I have a few favourite things in the world. Somerset County Cricket club is one. Indie music from the late 80s/early 90s is another. The landscape of South-West England. Post-war British fiction. Cats.
Pizza is up there. Very close to the top actually. It was what weekends in Italy were all about, whether at the beach in summer, snacking on pizzette on white plastic tables, or else the Sunday night takeaway on the sofa with friends, watching Serie A. It is my takeaway staple, my not-so secret crush and my totally innocent pleasure.
I’m not exactly a purist either. I’ve been known to consume frozen varietes of many brands and drunkenly ordered it from the menus of the most scabrous eating establishments. I’ve eaten it when there were better things on offer, when I couldn’t be bothered to cook; I’ve had it for supper when I already had it for lunch.
I do however generally like to keep it simple and I am consistent in my ordering. Either a plain margherita, perhaps with added anchovies, or, when I was more of a meat eater, al piccante with spicy salame. One can gild the lily too much with those meat feasts and four cheeses. Like a good sandwich I believe a maximum of three key ingredients is all that’s needed.
Having said that I’m going away tomorrow for a couple of weeks so I took the opportunity of using up a few things in my fridge which would otherwise not keep to put on my homemade pizza.
A pizza, moreover, made without yeast. I told you I wasn’t exactly a purist. I didn’t have any yeast anyway, only baking powder. The combination of flour, salt and baking powder doesn’t make a totally authentic pizza dough, but for a home cook – especially one pushed for time – it’s close enough. No need for any proving time as once the dough is made it’s ready to be rolled and topped.
The ingredients I felt would sit better on a ‘white’ pizza rather than a tomato sauce-based one. It ended up as more like cauliflower cheese on bread, but what’s not to like about that?
For the dough-making recipe I followed this link, but adapted the quantities to make one single pizza. So:
- 200g flour
- 1 and a half tsp baking powder
- half a tsp of salt
- 100ml water
- 20ml olive oil
For the topping:
- half a head of cauliflower, florets only (stalks retained for future use, they freeze)
- one leek, sliced
- 100g mozzarella
- 25g blue cheese
- 25g parmesan
- a few spinach leaves, torn
- palmful of fresh thyme leaves, chopped
- olive oil
- dried oregano, enough to sprinkle
- salt and pepper
- smoked paprika, half a tsp.
Method to make the topping:
Blanch the cauliflower and leek in salted boiling water for a minute or two. Remove and leave to drain well and cool. Once the pizza dough is rolled, brush with olive oil and then arrange the vegetable mixture on top, leaving some space at the sides. Add the thyme, oregano, salt, pepper and grated parmesan, then the other cheeses. Sprinkle over the paprika, if using. Drizzle over a little more oil. Bake in a preheated oven at 200 degrees celsius for about 40 minutes. Add the spinach leaves after about 30 minutes.