Pizza joy

A pizza is very easy to get hold of. One can head to the local takeaway, or to a restaurant, be it a chain or single business, or pick up a slice from a street vendor, depending on which country one is in. Some may be disappointing, others may be delicious, but they're all just there in easy reach, a short distance from your home.

This pizza's availability is a little closer (in your own kitchen) and dare I say it, cheaper too. It's from Jamie's Italy by Jamie Oliver, a cook book I am working my way through in what is turning out to be a year of mainly Italian food. You should be able to make a batch of pizzas from this recipe.

Firstly, you make your pizza dough: get a kilo of strong white bread flour, one level tablespoon of salt (a tablespoon? [Really, you don't need to use that much if you don't feel like it]), two 7 gram sachets of dried yeast, a table spoon of golden caster sugar (ditto as per the salt. [I really haven't noticed the difference in the two attempts I've made at this recipe]) and a pint of tepid water.

Add the sugar and yeast to the water and leave for a few moments, while you place the sugar, salt and flour into a large bowl. Once the yeast and sugar have bubbled up, add this to the flour and get to mixing and kneading for a little over ten minutes. Roll this dough into a ball, cover with clingfilm or a tea towel and leave for at least 15 minutes, during which time you can make some tomato sauce.

Heat a saucepan, add a little olive oil and fry a finely sliced clove of garlic for a few moments. To this by now golden garlic, add a handful of basil leaves, two tins of plum tomatoes and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook on a low heat for about twenty minutes, mashing the tomatoes as you go, after which, let it cool.

Now get back to your dough. Divide the slightly risen ball into six smaller batches. Take one of these, lightly dust your work surface with flour and roll the ball out until you have a vague circle of dough that is about half a centimetre or a quarter inch thick. Now, it's topping time; while you do this next step, turn your oven onto 200ÂșC.

Regarding toppings, the world is your oyster. You have the tomato sauce. You will have acquired some mozzarella cheese. Really, you could stop there, add both and make a lovely margherita pizza, but let's not stop there this time: this is a variation I could never quite trust in any establishment until now, as it involves an egg on the surface.

You will need: six table spoons of tomato sauce; two baby artichokes from a jar; three slices of prosciutto; a handful of stoned olives; one egg, 85 grams of mozzarella, extra virgin olive oil and salt and pepper.

Spread the tomato sauce over the pizza base. Onto this, scatter the torn artichoke pieces, over which you lay the prosciutto slices and the olives. Crack over the egg. Place torn pieces of mozzarella everywhere you see a gap. Drizzle with a little oil then season with the salt and pepper. The oven should be hot by now; place it in and cook until crisp and golden.


After! And lots of it, too...

You will have one delicious pizza. But then you'll look in your dough bowl and remember that you have five balls to go. No matter; continue cooking. You may feel that the first pizza didn't quite go as it should and you'd like another attempt. You may find that you are with others who may just want a pizza of their own. Or you may realise, like me, that you'd like to eat this all week. (This is how I tend to eat: one dish cooked in bulk, to reheat during the coming week, at home or work with little fuss.) While you're doing this, consider the may other toppings that you could try later.

In any case, you can set up a pizza production line, to be consumed right there and then, or to cool and be frozen, for defrosting and heating up at a later time. In any case, you now have your pizza; easy to get hold of, in your own kitchen.


  1. Coincidentally, and I think inspired by a comment you made recently, I made my own pizza from scratch for the first time a few weeks ago. So much fun! You lose the convenience and speed factor by making your own dough, but then you also miss out on the pleasure of constructing it from scratch (and playing with it as you go - kneading is a delightful experience!). Love the toppings you chose for yours. I'd nix the olives, but that's just my own taste.

    Will definitely be trying this recipe out sometime soon - I definitely want to experiment further with breads and pizzas.

    1. Splendid stuff, Alex. More bread will be on the way...

  2. Dear Jonathan,

    I am Alex's aunt in Canada, and I wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed your post about pizza. Not just because the food sounds delicious, but because of your writing style. (I'm an editor and writer, and these things are important.) You write like my all-time favourite food writer, Edouard de Pomiane. There is something about the use of the second person, and the attitude towards work at the stove and in the kitchen. I look forward to your future musings about food.


    1. Hello Philippa,

      I'm really touched by your response. (I hadn't heard of de Pomaine, but I just looked at his words on Hollandaise sauce; he's right up my street!) I too look forward to your blogs and sharing more words on food with you.

      - Jonathan

    2. Next time you visit London I really must introduce you - now that I think of it, you would probably get on like a house on fire! Not least for your shared interested in food and good writing (and your capacity to execute both!).

      Jonathan - my aunt and her husband co-author a blog on Paris that I think you would greatly enjoy - here's the link: http://parisianfields.wordpress.com/