I decided earlier I’d like to try and make Dough Balls, the kind you get at Pizza Express with the Garlic Butter. Then I decided I may as well go the whole hog & try to make some Pizza as well. I say try as my previous attempts at making Pizza or Bread haven’t gone very well. I think I am impatient and I suppose this isn’t a good trait when you are kneading dough!
The last (and first) thing I tried to bake here was Hot Cross Buns, as they don’t seem to be available here. They turned out like rocks, you could have smashed a whole green house with the tray of them, I think my Yeast was past its use by date!
The plan was to take the Dogs out for an afternoon walk & then start making the dough but we now have to do an airport run so I am leaving the whole dough experiment till tomorrow.
One thing has annoyed me, I found this link (below) ‘Exclusive Pizza Express Recipe’. I am going to use their dough recipe, maybe with a couple of tweaks and also the advice for shaping the pizza sounds useful, however, their Tomato Sauce recipe is totally wrong.. You only have to compare it to the ingredients you can find online for one of their Pizza Express At Home Pizzas and you can see for yourself! I don’t know why they bother to give a recipe and call it exclusive, as though they are telling you a secret and then deliberately give you a recipe that isn’t like what they use on their own pizza..
Rant over! I have made their Tomato Sauce just to be fair, and I won’t be using it on my Pizza, I will be saving it to put on a pasta one day for lunch and using my own recipe for the Tomato Base Sauce.. PS They don’t tell you to blend it, but since when did their sauce have huge chunks of onion, tomato & garlic in? Hmmm..
Ingredients (Serves 2)
For Pizza Dough
See link below
For Tomato Pizza Base Sauce
- 250g Tomato Passata (Sieved Tomatoes)
- 1 Plum Tomato (From a Can) plus 2 Tbs of its Juice
- 2 Tbs Tomato Puree
- 5 Fresh Basil Leaves, Chopped Finely or 1 tsp Dried Basil
- 1 Tsp Sugar
- Salt & Pepper to Taste
For Tomato Base Sauce
- Place all ingredients in a pan
- Mash up the Plum Tomato & stir well
- Bring to the boil and then simmer for approx 25 mins until you have a very thick sauce
- Leave to one side to cool
So assuming you have your dough ready after following the recipe link- you can now get it ready for baking! Personally I turned my oven up as high as it would go (gas Mark 9) and left it to preheat for over 30 minutes.. I actually found it quite easy to roll the dough out & to keep it thin. I have noticed a lot of people saying on line that their Pizza Base springs back and won’t stay stretched out, if this happens you should leave the dough to rest again for 20 minutes and then have another go! One thing I could NOT do was get the edge to curl in the way the Pizza Express ones do, annoying but I suppose practise makes perfect..
- Then you need to spoon some Tomato Sauce on, you need to put a decent amount on as some will dry out during cooking, but not so much that it will be soggy.
- Then you need to put your cubes of Mozarella Cheese over the top. What toppings you choose is up to you! I used a Pepperoni, Jalapeno (from a jar), some White Onion and some Green Bell Pepper.
- Finally a sprinkle of Oregano, Black Pepper & a drizzle of Olive Oil.
- Place it directly onto your oven rack & cook for 10 minutes (or until it looks nice & brown!)
For the Dough Balls
- The Pizza Dough recipe makes 2 Pizzas or 1 Pizza & 6 Dough Balls..
- Follow the recipe for Pizza Dough but instead of shaping into two balls which will become Pizza, shape into 6 balls which become Dough Balls!
- Once again I put my oven at its highest setting & baked the Dough Balls on a tray for just over 5 minutes (until turning golden)
- Serve with Garlic Bread
Problems I had!
I have now made this dough 3 times- the first time I started making it when I noticed the Flour looked a bit off colour, it wasn’t PURE white so I made that batch but also opened some other Flour (remember I am in a foreign country and I tend to go by the pictures for purchases!) this was Snow White so I made a second batch with that. The first batch barely rose at all, the second (really white) batch rose lots. So I think if you are a novice baker use a White Flour, don’t try to experiment with other flours until you understand the dough a bit better. I used the White dough to make the Pizza & the Off White (pictured top Dough Ball) to make Dough Balls and they both turned out well- if anything the Pizza was too thin! I don’t have pictures as I was otherwise occupied (having a strop).
So third time lucky & I used my White Flour to make up a batch today, it didn’t rise as well as last time I don’t know why (any suggestions?) I think maybe I didn’t knead it long enough, despite doing it for the same length of time (2 songs on my IPod) somehow it didn’t feel the same (hindsight, a great thing). The rolling went just as well, the dough didn’t shrink back etc, my issue is the Oven.. The racks in my oven have huge gaps in between, so I had to start the Pizza off on a tray till it firmed up a bit & then place it directly onto the rack (for some reason this pizza was smaller than the last one which was fine on the rack!) This meant it wasn’t AS crispy as last time but it was thin & crispy so I can’t complain.
I need work on getting the edge bit right.. But overall it went well & if nothing else I think I will make Dough Balls quite often 🙂