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Family Bread-Machine Pizza

The standard Thursday-night pizza recipe, for four 180g bases. 5 minutes prep plus 1½ hours machine-mixing and proving for the bases, followed by 15 minutes rolling, 30 minutes additional proving in a warm oven, 5 minutes decorating and 10 minutes cooking. It might seem like a lot of processes, but our eldest has been making pizzas this way since the age of ten or so, so it's easy enough to do. This is made in a bread machine, so ingredients (including water, which is 1 gram per millilitre anyway) are weighed directly into the mixing bowl, with the scales set to zero after each ingredient. Note that flours differ in their absorption of water - this recipe assumes a roughly 3:2 flour/liquid ratio, but some flours (especially if you go for wholemeal) may require less water, so you may need to adjust (simply add a bit more flour and knead if the dough is too sticky). You should end up with a dough that's easy to roll and stretch, but not so loose that it gets holes in all the time. 12g easy-bake yeast 430g strong white bread flour 250g water 25g olive oil 25g golden syrup or sugar 5g salt 4 oiled pizza trays Tomato and basil passata, or pizza sauce, e.g. Cirio, or Mutti if you've got money to burn Other toppings of choice - mozarella (grated or fresh), red onion, olives, peperoni, etc
  1. Add the first six ingredients, in the order above, to the bread machine's mixing bowl
  2. Set to the "pizza" or a quick dough setting, for an approximately 45 minute mix, and start the programme. Alternatively, mix and knead by hand for at least 10 minutes, then prove in a warm place for an hour
  3. Once finished, allow the dough to prove in the bread machine for an additional 45 minutes. Some machines will keep a warming heat on after the end of the programe, which is ideal
  4. Preheat a fan oven to around 50°C. Most aren't marked this low, but you can still find somewhere inbetween "off" and its minimum setting, which is warm but not hot
  5. Remove the dough from the machine and split into 4 portions, of about 180 grams each
  6. Sprinkle plenty of flour over your rolling area
  7. Shape each blob into as round a ball as you can - tuck the edges under as you turn the dough blob quickly around with a circlular motion
  8. Roll out to a disc about two thirds the diameter of the pizza tray - keep turning by eights of a turn as you roll, to ensure a round shape of even thickness
  9. Pick up the dough disc, lay it in the palm of an upturned hand with the fingers held up slightly, then twist quickly as you fling the disc up in the air. Catch with your hand flat and repeat a few times until the dough has stretched out
  10. If you don't fancy doing the "pizzaola spin" - it is a bit tricky at first - simply continue rolling until the dough is the same size as the pizza tray. You won't get quite the same crusts, as the spinning pushes the dough out to the edges much more than rolling, but it still works
  11. Transfer the base to a pizza tray, stretching where required to fill the tray up the the edges (or to maintain a circular shape if you want a smaller and/or thicker pizza). Work quickly and don't aim for total perfection - any small holes can be filled with a little left-over dough
  12. Tip some passata or pizza sauce in the middle of each base and spread out with a small ladle or the back of a spoon until 1 or 2 centimetres away from the edge of the pizza
  13. Place the tomato-covered pizza bases into the warm oven for around 15 to 20 minutes until the crusts have visibly risen (the tomato sauce keeps the rest of the base from rising too much)
  14. Remove the pizzas from the oven and turn it up as hot as it will go (a fan oven is best if you're doing four at once, otherwise the top one burns before the bottom one has even had its cheese melted)
  15. Whilst the oven is heating up, decorate with pizzas with whatever toppings you fancy, but don't overload as it means the bases don't cook very well. Also, if using fresh mozarella, squeeze it and ensure it's well drained, otherwise it can be too wet
  16. When the oven is up to temperature, put the pizzas in quickly and set a timer for 7 minutes. At the end of the 7 minutes, check the top pizza and add more time if required. Note that even in a fan oven, the top one will still cook slightly quicker than the others, so as each top pizza is removed, add a minute or two for those remaining and move them up the shelves
For two pizzas, use 300g flour with 180g water, with the other ingredients reduced slightly. You'll end up with a bit of left-over dough, but bread machines can't reliably knead too much less dough than this. There's also an improved recipe which uses some quick-start fake sourdough: simply mix 3g yeast, 200g flour and 200g water in a bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave in a warm place for at least 6 hours (so make it on the morning of pizza day). Add this to the rest of the bread-machine recipe as above, but with 200g less flour and 200g less water.