Unf*ckupable wholemeal pizza dough, 5p

I made a pizza tonight, and dolloped some of last night’s leftover baba ghanoush on top – although minus the tomatoes, as it is traditionally made. The baba recipe in my first book is based on a baba/imam-bayildi cross that a friend of mine used to make, and I long believed that baba ghanoush is always made with tomatoes. A few years in the culinary world (and some rather scathing comments) showed me that that was in fact rather unusual, but still, I like it. I digress; last night’s baba was made without tomatoes. Just good old aubergines, roasted until blackened on the outside and soft and smoky on the inside, mashed with some minced garlic, oil, salt and lots of lemon juice. I passed over the tahini, for which my dear Ottolenghi would raise his eyebrows, but I didn’t have any in. A tablespoon of peanut butter is a good enough substitution for Nigella, but I won’t start a war over here. Just, I made some baba ghanoush, I somehow managed not to eat the lot, and tonight I made a pizza to dollop it on top of.

I uploaded a picture to my Instagram account and several people asked for the recipe for the pizza dough, so here it is. It was going to go in Cooking On A Bootstrap but I’m not precious, and I like to make people happy, and besides, I doubt anyone will cancel their orders because I’ve snuck a couple of recipes on my blog. πŸ™‚

As ever, prices are based at Sainsburys because that’s where I shop, and if you find any super excellent bargains elsewhere then be sure to comment below and let us all know.

Makes one very large pizza for 4 people at 5p each

120g wholemeal flour, 8p (95p/1.5kg)

120g plain flour, 5p (Basics, 55p/1.5kg)

5g dried active yeast, 2p (65p/125g)

1/2 tsp salt (optional), <1p (Basics table salt, 25p/750g)

1 tbsp oil, 2p (Β£3/3l sunflower or vegetable oil)

200-220ml warm water, depending on flour – not all wholemeals are created equal
First pop your flours in a mixing bowl and add the yeast and salt. Mix well to combine. Some people like to soft their flour and other ingredients together; go ahead by all means if you have a sieve and like to do things properly, but I’ve never noticed the difference. I am a neanderthal in some respects though, and the subtle nuances of a crumb structure often evade me as I ram a pizza in my gob, so such delicate additional steps are wasted on me.

Make a well (a sort of hole) in the middle of the dry ingredients and add the oil, followed by most of the water. Make sure the water isn’t too hot, else it will kill the yeast, it is a living organism and doesn’t take too kindly to being boiled alive!

Mix well from the soggy centre, ourwards, to form a supple dough. I use the handle of a fork or spoon for mixing bread these days, as it stops the dough from gathering in the bowl of the spoon. Grab a wooden spoon and lube it up with cooking oil a few inches from the end and up (I demonstrated this to someone once and was met with open mouthed horror, safe to say if I ever do accept any of those telly offers, I won’t be practically demonstrating this one…) ANYWAY, use this to stir your dough and it will form fats and smooth and shouldn’t stick too much. The usual dough rules apply; if it’s too wet and tacky, add a handful of dough. If it’s too dry and cracking, add a splash more water.

Flour your worktop, and while you’re at it, a light dusting on the baking tray too. Tip your dough out, leaving the mixing bowl to one side because you’ll need that in a moment. Knead well for a few minutes, you’ll feel it beoming soft and supple and springy in your hands. I like to oil my palms to knead, it stops them getting crusty and makes for a rather enjoyable experience. Here’s me kneading. It’s essentially pushing the dough out with your palm, folding it in half, turning it a little, and repeating. There are many ways up the mountain, you just need to stretch it out and work it a little, to activate the gluten. Oily hands seem to keep it all warm, which is another reason why I do it.

When you have kneaded your bread, pop it back in the mixing bowl and cover with clingfilm or a tea towel. Leave in a warm place for 90 minutes, or if no suitably warm place is available, 2 hours. If your home is bloody cold, like mine is, wrap the covered bowl in 2 thick bath towels or fleecy blankets/jumpers/dressing gown to insulate it. It works. Don’t clean the flour off your worktop, you’ll need it again in a bit. Unless it’s really going to bother you, in which case, go right ahead.

Come back to it 90 mins to an hour later. Tip out onto the floury worktop and roll it out. If you don’t have a rolling pin, a wine bottle works just fine. Carefully lift it and drop it onto your floured baking tray. Turn the oven on to 180C. Top with desired toppings and leave to prove for 15 minutes to get one last rise out of it – then cook for 15-18 minutes in the centre of the oven, depending on how much you loaded the top!

Enjoy. I’d love to hear what you topped yours with in the comments below.

Jack Monroe. I’m on Twitter and Instagram and Facebook. If you like my recipes then I have a couple of cookbooks on Hive, who support independent bookshops and also deliver.

29 Comments »

  1. Fabulous !!! I took your idea of only using normal flour and never looked back – never had it not rise and saved loads on strong flour.will try the pizza with whole meal. The baba sounds lush

  2. I’m happy for the sneak peaks. I am always amazed that people get so rude over things like food. If everything was just one recipe and no deviations, what a dull paate we would all have. Nothing beats a good pizza crust as a vessel for leftover bits of great food.

  3. Vegan cheese is the pits. Check out the Oh She Glows Cookbook by Angela Liddon for vegan recipes that use real food that hasn’t been mucked about with. Every one of the 100 recipes is a winner.

    • Yup, Oh She Glows is great but very rarely can I afford to make any of her recipes. And basically, this is a completely different blog written by a completely different person offering completely different things.

      Also, vegan cheese doesn’t have to be the pits – yes there are some feral brands, but there are also a couple of commercially available ones that are great (BioCheese for example!)… but they’re pricey. There are loads of plant based melty cheese recipes online that are wonderful on pizza (see moxarella) and are unprocessed and made with goodness.

  4. Lol I would SO lube you up! Is it just me or was anyone else getting turned on with all the subtle(and not so subtle) sensual references?
    I bet you love gettin down and dirty in the kitchen! πŸ˜‰

  5. once had to roll out using a beans can, but it worked, (put a plastic bag on it to stop it from getting sticky and messy.) Love your easy pizza base but I need to change to a wheat free alternative. Loving your changes to vegan, allows me to choose if I add meat and which meat.
    πŸ™‚

  6. I love how you make things sound easy and not scary. I made a pizza base once and it felt like a mission for some reason. But I am excited to try this recipe! ! P.S; just had a slice of your banana bread for breakfast, again you are god among mortals.

  7. P.s: I noticed a couple of typos, Ctrl+F “soft” and “fats” to find them. And feel free to delete this message if you want.

  8. This is going to be such a help to my occasional but not always successful wholemeal bread-making. Thanks, Jack!
    American cooks favour whisking their dry ingredients together to get rid of lumps and introduce air – much faster and less mess-making than sieving, although that’s a hard habit to break!
    Lightly oiling not just one’s hands but the mixing-bowl before returning the dough to it to prove, can also help.

  9. Love your blog Jack!

    Do you know what the equivalent to wholemeal flour is in South Africa? Brown bread flour?

    Anyone else know?

  10. Do you buy yeast in those small packets or do you get a tub? Although the tub seems more expensive, it works out much cheaper than the sachets. Just compare the pricing on the supermarket shelves and see how much the yeast is being sold by the gram. The yeast keeps forever in the fridge so, as long as you have a fridge, there is no problem about storage. Also, many years ago when I was younger, poorer and had way more hair, I used to prove bread dough by filling a washing up bowl with a mixture of boiled water and water from the hot tap and then letting the bread bowl, covered with a tea towel, float on the water. Just boiling water would make the bottom of the dough hard but the combination of the two worked a treat. Sometimes, I would add extra boiling water to keep the temperature up. I always used a ceramic bowl – might not work with a metal one. Nowadays, I have gone up in the world and have an airing cupboard.

  11. Never thought of oiling my hands before kneading!!! So simple and so clever!! Thank you – Your recipes and your books are an inspiration – thank you so much

  12. I still use your ‘penny pizzas’ recipe from your 1st book, i just replace a little white flour with wholemeal flour. I am a carer for my disabled son, and money is very tight, so am really looking forward to your new book Jack!

  13. I have problems with finding a warm spot for raising dough – I bought a cheap electric plant propagator, uses minimal power and creates a warm spot – with a high enough lid for the basin.

  14. I’ve been taught to mix the salt with the flour. Pile it on to a clean surface and make a well in the centre. Add the yeast to some lukewarm water and mix with a fork. Leave for a few minutes, then pour into the well. We were told we could use a bowl, but not mix salt with the yeast. However, if your recipe works, (and it obviously does), then fine. I’m only a beginner and you are more experienced.

  15. Pizza was lush. My daughter did the toppings. I had loads of pizza base left so I whipped up your penny pizza.Thankyou
    My kitchen looked like a bomb site tho!

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