Wednesday, 13 February 2013

(Recipe) Love heart pizza, the Italian ASK way

Here's an easy recipe, which is perfect for Valentine's Day.  Nothing says "I love you" than a love heart pizza (yes, OK, there are a lot of other things that say "I love you" better, but this is pretty nice...and very yummy!).

The pizza base recipe is inspired by one from the new ASK Italian cookbook, which I was sent to review.  Filled full of tasty looking Italian meal ideas (some of which are easy to get your children involved with), it's also raising money for Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH).

This pizza recipe makes enough dough for four individual pizzas (which turn out really soft and light).  I got Sophia and Dexter to help me make the pizza bases and they loved getting involved (as well as throwing the flour all around the kitchen!).  It's also a great way to try and get children interested in what they will be eating because they can choose their favourite toppings.

Here's what you will need to make these individual love heart pizzas.

For the pizza base

  • 450g of plain white flour 
  • 7g of dried yeast (I used one sachet of easy-bake yeast) 
  • 250g lukewarm water 
  • 1 teaspoon of brown sugar 
  • 1 teaspoon of fine sea salt 
  • 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil (plus extra to oil your pizza tray) 

For the toppings

  • Tomato puree 
  • Grated cheese (we used grated mozzarella) 
  • Anything else you like! 

What you need to do 

  • Preheat your oven to 240 degrees C or gas mark 9 
  • Mix the yeast into the water, stir well to ensure it all dissolves and then stir in the sugar and oil. Put to one side 
  • Sieve the salt and about two thirds of the flour into a large mixing bowl.  Make a well in the middle of the flour 
  • Pour the yeast, water, sugar and oil into the well in the middle of the mixing bowl 
  • Mix all of the ingredients together well, making sure to mix in any flour around the sides of the bowl 
  • Continue to mix until the ingredients form a dough 

  • Grab a handful of the remaining flour and sprinkle over your kitchen worktop 
  • Remove the dough from the bowl and place on your newly floured worktop and then sprinkle more flour over the top of it 
  • Knead the dough for as long you think it needs (although it shouldn't take longer than 10 minutes).  The dough should be elastic and smooth. 
  • Divide the dough into four pieces and knead into smooth balls 
  • Flatten the dough with the your hands into rough circles.  Then, you can either use a rolling pin to stretch the dough even further or continue to use your hands to flatten the dough until it reaches the right thickness for you (we choose to do the latter because it was more fun). 
  • Once the dough is ready, use a plastic spatula (or baby knife - I found that this worked perfectly) to score a heart shape into the dough.  Then, again using the spatula or baby knife, press down hard along the scored lines so that the excess dough can be easily removed.  You could use a sharp knife to do this but remember to place the dough onto a chopping board first! 

  • Grease a baking tray and place the four heart-shaped pizza bases onto it. 

Now it's time for the toppings!

  • With your tomato puree, squeeze directly onto the pizza bases and spread to your desired consistency 
  • Next, cover your pizzas with the toppings you like the best!  For the pizza in my top photograph, I used mushrooms, sausage, chicken, ham, cheese and tomato. 
  • When you have covered your pizzas in toppings, cook them for between 15 and 20 minutes. 

You can also use any leftover dough to knead together and make small dough balls, which you could use with some garlic butter (available from most supermarkets I believe) to accompany your pizza.  These doughballs should be baked for roughly the same amount of time as the pizzas. 

To serve:

Why not accompany your pizza with a fresh, crisp garden salad and some fries?  And don't forget those home-made dough balls of course!

Please note: As I've already mentioned, I was sent the ASK Italian Cookbook to review.  As well as the recipe for their pizza base (which I used in my post but you will need to buy the cookbook to find out some of their secret methods for making a perfect pizza base!), it has over 100 other recipes to get you cooking some tasty Italian food.   Plus, it's also in aid of a vey good cause. 

The book is available from ASK restaurants for £10, with £4 going to the Great Ormond Street Hospital's Children's Charity.  The money will help fund the dining rooms, play areas and kitchen in the hospital’s new Surgery Centre, due to open in 2016.  It can also be bought at other retailers, where a minimum of £1 will go to the charity.

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