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We had wonderful homemade pizza when I was a child, with beautiful crisp chewy crusts, but I always saw it as something that couldn’t be duplicated in a normal oven, as mum and dad baked it in the wood burning stove that would be fired up with ironbark logs until the firebox glowed! Fast forward about 30 years, and we make our version, with a different crust to allow for slightly more normal temperatures, all the time (like every other week at least). This is another where Mr GP is the base expert, while i focus on toppings. Some recipes take a while to get posted here, but this is probably the most frequently used and longstanding recipe I haven’t yet posted.

You can actually see our progression in the photographs over the years, from the photo above with the Bunnykins plate (my youngest is now almost an adult!), to the one below showing the first meal we made in our new kitchen post renovation 8 years ago (you can see the unfinished floor in the background), to the one at the top with fresh artichokes from my new plants that first flowered this spring.

I’ve outlined a range of possible toppings in the recipe, and you can see some of our favourites pictured below, but you can certainly adapt to whatever you prefer (I’ll even overlook if you hate anchovies :)). The main thing to note is that we make a mostly traditional style that keeps both the number and amount of toppings relatively restrained as you can see. To get the best results I recommend you don’t load them up super supreme style, not because I prefer it, but because they will take significantly longer to cook, and the crust is likely to be dry by the time the toppings are done.

If you’re interested, some of our absolute favourites, apart from the classic anchovy/olive, or salami/mushroom, are caramelised onion/olive/feta/oregano, prosciutto/dressed rocket after cooking, pumpkin/sage/feta, asparagus/bacon, grilled eggplant/olive/caper/Pecorino, and ricotta/mixed sauteed mushrooms/thyme/Fontina or Gruyere. As you can see from those combinations, two things we love to use are a range of fresh herbs, and small amounts of more strongly flavoured cheeses along with the mozzarella. So, over to you, what are your favourite pizza toppings?

Our family pizza

  • 500ml water
  • 120ml olive oil
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 1.5 tsp sugar
  • 900g bakers flour
  • 2 tsp dried yeast

To top

  • tomato passata
  • mozzarella
  • any or all of:
    • salami
    • mushrooms
    • anchovies
    • olives
    • capers
    • prosciutto
    • rocket
    • tinned or fresh artichokes
    • asparagus
    • grilled slices of eggplant, capsicum or zucchini
    • baked cubes of pumpkin
    • caramelised onion
    • feta
    • fresh herbs

Measure water into the bowl of a stand mixer. Add oil, salt and sugar, followed by flour and yeast. Use the dough hook to combine at low speed, then mix at medium for five minutes until smooth and the dough has come cleanly away from the bowl. If you don’t have a mixer, combine with a wooden spoon in a large bowl, then knead on a chopping board or clean bench top with a very small amount of flour until smooth. The oil should mean it isn’t too sticky. Cover bowl and leave in a warm place (sunny windowsill/heating vent/back of the stove) to rise for a couple of hours until doubled.

Preheat oven to 250C. If you have one, put a pizza tile or griddle in the oven. If not, put the heaviest baking tray you have into the oven to preheat.

Somewhere with a bit of space like a table, lay out 8 squares of baking paper. Punch down dough, then pull off eight roughly even balls of dough. Press each one out to a roughly 25cm circle using your knuckles or the side of your hand. You can toss it in the air if you like, but we don’t usually get fancy!

Use the back of a spoon to spread each circle with tomato passata. Top with your preferred toppings, and scatter with mozzarella.

Use a cooling rack or flat baking tray to transfer each pizza, still on its baking paper, to the preheated stone or tray in turn. We have two stones so bake two at a time. Bake for 6-8 minutes until the base is brown in patches on the bottom, and the mozzarella is blistered. Top with fresh herbs or rocket after removing.

For calzone

Divide dough into six rather than eight. Fillings need to be more substantial than those above, and you need to remember that they won’t brown, so I would recommend against raw vegetables for example. Some of our favourites are ricotta with a range of wilted greens and parmesan, a chunky tomato sauce (something like this with tomato paste but without water/passata) with diced chicken and olives with mozzarella, or ricotta with mixed roasted vegetables like those listed above, plus parmesan and/or mozzarella. Put fillings on one half of the dough, leaving a filling free space around the edge, then fold over the other half and crimp (pinch and fold, or press with a fork) the edge. Poke a couple of holes with a sharp knife, and bake at 200C for about 15 minutes until well browned.

Makes 8 pizzas or 6 calzone