Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Everybody loves pizza!

The other week photographer Jesse Seaward and myself took to the studio to take some food shots and below are the results!

I love pizza! Who doesn’t love pizza? And what more would you want to accompany them than a massive pot of mayonnaise? [My mouth's watering as I write!] Once you start making your own you’ll realise just how rubbish supermarket pizzas are and even some great takeaway pizza places will start to seem dull in comparison with the crisp-based beauties that’ll be coming out of your oven.

I started making pizzas because I enjoyed making bread, simple. However pizza dough is so simple that anyone can do it, even on a work night. Simply throw it all together and then leave it until you start getting hungry, they only take about 10 minutes so arrive home, chuck ingredients together, shower, change, have a beer and then the dough will be ready! Easy.

In answer to the 2 questions everybody asks when making homemade pizzas:
1.     Can you actually make great pizas in a normal home oven? – Yes you can, a proper pizza oven is way hotter than a normal home oven but you can get truly outstanding results from any domestic oven.
2.     Does a pizza stone make any difference? – Yes it does, the bottom will be crispier and less chance of a soggy base. If you want to spend extra money then get one but it’s not essential.

(For the tomato sauce I simply get a good can of chopped tomatoes, put it in a pan with loads of salt and pepper and simmer for around 30 mins until reduced and thick)

Ingredients (Makes 3 pizzas):

Pizza Dough –

14g dried yeast
250g strong bread flour
250g ‘00’ flour
10g salt
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp olive oil

Topping –

1 can chopped tomatoes (reduced until thick)
2 Mozzarella balls
200g good sun dried tomatoes or oven dried tomatoes
1 pack of basil
Olive oil


-       Put the yeast with 100ml water and 100g bread flour and whisk until it becomes a smooth thick paste
-       Leave this mixture for 15 minutes until it begins to bubble (this is to get  the yeast started a bit, it’s called a sponge)
-       Add the rest of the flours, olive oil, salt and water and mix in a bowl until the mixture comes together to a soft and slightly sticky ball
-       Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and kneed for 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and the dough pushs back when you poke your finger in.
-       Leave the dough for around an hour or until the mixture has doubled in size (you can leave it for longer so the best thing to do is forget about it and then make the pizzas when you’re hungry!)
-       Preheat your oven as hot as it will go, 250 degrees with most ovens
-       Spread a small amount of tomato sauce onto the base, rip up some mozzarella and place on the pizza along with the tomatoes
-       Put in the oven for 10-15 minutes depending on how good your oven is
-       Garnish with ripped basil and a splash of olive oil

Who needs a take away pizza when you’ve got these?!

Genoise Sponge

A slice of genoise sponge with a good cup of coffee is one of my favourite mid-morning snacks! If made properly the cake is light and delicate and won’t leave you with that heavy post-cake lull that so many heavy over-produced cakes do. I originally started to make this cake as I wanted to go to chef school but couldn’t afford the full 3 terms, so to bypass the first term I started learning what was needed – whisked sponges being one of them!

The lightness of this cake makes it ideal for layering. It can last for a few days and if cutting in half is best made the day before. It can also be frozen very well.

This is the cake I made on the first episode of The Great British Bake Off and yes it’s the one I dropped on the floor. The cake was demolished by everyone so quickly that even the bit dropped on the floor was wolfed-down by passers by outside the tent much to the amusement of us all! The cake from the programme was filled with dark chocolate mousse, whisked cream and then topped with a chocolate ganache. I'll post the mousse recipe and ganache shortly!

Genoise Sponge:


4 eggs
55g melted butter
125g caster sugar
125g seived plain flour
A pich of salt


- Prepare moule a manque in a 9in cake tin*
- Put 4 eggs with 125g sugar in a clean bowl over a pan of simmering water (not boiling)
- Using an electric whisk whisk over the heat until thick, creamy, and until you can make ribbons in the mixture that last for a few seconds
- Whisk off the heat for a further few minutes to cool the mixture slightly
- Add 55g of melted butter around the side of the mixture and fold in a few times but won’t incorporate it fully
- Seive over half the flour and give the mixture another few folds
- Add the last of the flour and salt then carefully fold until all incorporated
- Carefully pour into the prepared cake tin
- Bake for around 30-35 minutes
- To make a chocolate genoise substitute 15g of flour with 15g good quality cocoa

* put baking parchment on the bottom of the tin, brush the whole tin with butter, put 2 tbsp sugar in and shake around the buttered tin, pour of any excess and repeat with 2 tbsp flour