Unf*ckupable wholemeal pizza dough, 5p [VG/V/DF]

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. 🙂

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 (£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.

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