Every family has traditions, their little rituals and quirks. For us, it’s our beloved Pizza Fridays.
These started long before I met the Other Half; his family would get a Domino’s every Friday (and still do) and watch a movie together.
But when we moved in together, we couldn’t afford Domino’s every week (and still can’t) so we started getting Tesco Finest oven pizzas instead for half the price.
After a while we started customising them, adding our own meat selection to the pesto pizza or spinach, courgette and mascarpone to the Italian Meat Feast.
Given our love of cooking, it was inevitable we would eventually start making our own from scratch. This also meant Little Miss could join in – she’s lactose intolerant making store bought pizzas difficult.
Pizza Fridays is the night of the week I look forward to most. It’s a real joint family effort; I make the dough, the OH makes the passata and Little Miss helps put the toppings on, choosing her own for her mini lactose free pizza.
Now, once upon a time, many moons ago, before a miniature person ruled our every breath, the Other Half had a cooking blog and I had a baking blog. Finding Our Feet doesn’t really reflect our love of cooking, but given Pizza Fridays are so close to our hearts and such a key element to our week, we thought we’d don our food blogger hats one last time, just for you.
This really is a super easy dinner and so much fun. If you’re short on time (or energy) you could buy store bought passatta or pizza bases instead of homemade. (Though the rolling and kneading of the bases is all part of the fun.)
Quick and Easy Tomato Passata
This is a basic tomato passata sauce we’ve been making for years. Obviously, it’s great as a pizza sauce, but it’s also perfect with pasta as well. Because it’s so easy and versatile, we tend to make a big batch every once in a while then freeze for later use.
The OH’s top tip: an authentic Italian sauce will usually have a couple of finely chopped anchovy fillets to give the sauce it’s deep, savoury taste. It’s a really great alternative to adding salt, making it super baby and toddler friendly and gives the dish a deep, rich flavour (not fishy as you might expect). We haven’t added it here, but i you want to, just add a couple of small anchovy fillets, finely chopped, with the garlic at the start. They’ll dissolve into the sauce and turn it into something really special, trust me!
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 shallot finely chopped (optional)
- sprinkling of chilli flakes (optional)
- 400ml store bought tomato passata or a can of chopped tomatoes
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 small bunch fresh basil – leaves picked and stalks discarded
- sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- Heat a heavy saucepan on medium-low heat and add the olive oil and chopped garlic (along with the shallots and chilli, if using).
- Gently fry the garlic until it starts to soften turn golden, then add the tomatoes, oregano, basil leaves and season with salt and pepper.
- Cook gently, stirring often, for around 20 minutes or when you get a lovely medium-thick consistency.
- Taste and season again if necessary.
Pizza Base Dough (makes two large, thin pizzas)
When we started making pizzas, we went authentic Italian style and mixed all the ingredients on the kitchen side – no bowl. It’s great fun, especially for little ones, albeit a little messy. We started off using Jamie Oliver’s pizza dough recipe, which is a good place to start if you’re new to homemade pizza making.
These days, we have a bread maker, (a Panasonic SD2501) which we can’t recommend enough. It just makes the process all the easier with a little one running around. You simply bung the ingredients in the machine and leave it to do it’s thing for 40 minutes (while you make the passata / chop toppings / sit out side in the sun with a glass of wine…)
The recipe below has come out of dozens of experimentations to find the right dough for us. Of course, bread makers differ, so check your manual first.
- 1/2 tsp easy bake yeast
- 180g strong white bread flour
- 120g wholemeal bread flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 180ml warm water
- you’ll also need plain flour to sprinkle on the side when you’re working the dough
Amie’s top tip: we knead pizza dough to make it more elastic and harder to tear when you roll it out into the pizza shape. So make sure you give it a good work out before you start rolling. You’ll also get better results if you work with the dough while it’s warm.
- Pop the ingredients in the bread maker according to your brand’s instructions and leave it to do it’s thing (approx 45mins).
- Sprinkle the counter top with a healthy dose of plain flour and make sure your hands are warm and dry (also sprinkle your hands with plain flour if necessary).
- Take the finished dough out of the machine and split into two equal balls.
- Take one ball of dough and start kneading it in your hands. You don’t have to be too precious with it at this point, just gently squeeze it between your hands a few times. Place the dough on the worktop and press the heal of your hand into it, pushing forward slightly. Then gather the dough together and repeat again and again until the dough springs back when you gently press it with your finger tips.
- Grab your rolling pin and roll the dough out into a vaguely circular shape (again, don’t need to be precious here).\
- You need to work quickly but gently with light fingers for this bit.
Pick up your dough and gently stretch it out with your hands, then spin it and repeat, spin it and repeat. If you’re feeling brave, this is actually easier to do if your spin it by tossing it lightly into the air. You don’t have to toss it high, but it means you’re handling the dough less and keeps it’s circular shape. But obviously, you risk a pizza base hitting the floor and having to start again.. (If you get any minor tears in the dough, simply pinch it back together and continue.)
- Once your dough is looking more like a pizza base, place it on your pizza tray and stretch it to the edges, pinching it at the sides so it ‘sticks’ to the edges of the tray, forming the crust.
- Repeat with your second ball of dough.
Amie top tip: For best results, leave to prove on the trays for about 20 minutes. But you can just crack on with the sauce and toppings as soon as you put them on the trays if you prefer.
Get creative with your toppings, let the kids choose their favourites and encourage a mixture of flavours. Here’s our favourites to give you some ideas:
NB: if you too have a lactose intolerant child, some children might be able to have Buffalo Mozzarella or Goat’s cheese as these are very low in lactose, but we use Arla’s Lactofree Mature Cheddar Cheese for Little Miss’ pizzas.