Proper pizza

Homemade pizza is a weekend staple at Modern Family Food HQ. Don't skip making your own roasted tomato passata which is as easy as bunging some tomatoes in the oven but really makes the final pizza. Invest in a wooden paddle, a decent pizza stone and be sure to get the stone really hot in the oven to start with. If you have any unused dough, you can use it to make a calzone another day. If you want to get ahead on pizza night, you can make the dough ahead of time, roll out the bases and keep between layers of greaseproof paper in your fridge until it's time to fire up the oven.


Makes 4 pizzas

2 tsp dried instant yeast
½ tbsp honey
1 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for greasing
375g strong white bread flour
2 tsp salt

Takes 60 minutes

1. Boil the kettle while you get out your ingredients. After about 5 minutes, measure 300ml water (you want it warm, not boiling) into a plastic jug. The kids can sprinkle in the yeast, drizzle in the honey and add the olive oil then whisk with a fork until dissolved.

2. Mix the flour and salt together in a large mixing bowl placed on top of a folded tea towel to stop it spinning. Make a well in the centre and get the kids to pour in the yeast mixture. Bring it together with floured hands to form a soft dough then flour your worktop and turn the dough out. Take turns to knead for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic.

3. Brush olive oil over the base and sides of a large bowl, put the dough in and cover with a piece of cling film that you've also brushed with oil on the underside. Leave somewhere warm for 45 minutes. Put the kids on dough watch to check on it until it's doubled in size.

Margarita pizza (plus toppings)

Makes 4

flourfor dusting
pizza dough, as above
4 tbsp passata (or use shop-bought, keep in fridge until needed)
2 x balls of mozzarella
50g cheddar
extra toppings (see below)
salt and pepper
extra-virgin olive oil

polenta, for dusting

1. Preheat the oven to its highest setting and put your pizza stone in the oven. Dust your worktop with flour, turn out the dough and knead for another minute then divide into four with a sharp knife. Pop back in the mixing bowl and cover in the cling film again for a final 15 minutes while you get everything else together.

2. Get the kids to grate the cheddar (they find this easiest using a grater with a bowl like this one) and to rip the mozzarella into pieces and put in a little bowl. Prep any other toppings (see below) and put in bowls within easy reach of where you're going to be rolling out the pizzas.

3. For each of the four pizzas you make: get a wooden pizza paddle (or peel) like this one. Sprinkle a little polenta on your pizza stone but keep it in the oven. Flatten the dough with the palm of your hand then roll it to a circle or rectangle to fit the shape of your paddle (you want the pizza to glide easily from paddle to pizza stone). Ease the pizza base onto the paddle, get the passata out of the fridge and spoon on 1 tbsp passata per pizza. Let the kids spread it out evenly with the back of a spoon. Top with a quarter of the mozzarella and any other toppings per pizza, finishing with a little grated cheddar, salt and pepper and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.

4. Keeping little kids well away, open the hot oven and slide the pizza as quickly as possible onto the pizza stone. The hotter you keep the oven in there, the crispier your base.

5. Bake for 8-10 minutes, slice and serve on a rolling prepare---cook---serve---prepare---cook---serve basis. 

Extra toppings

* sliced pepperoni
(tip: put on last so it crisps up)

* flaked ham & sliced mushroom

* jarred red roasted peppers, capers and rocket

* flaked tuna, anchovies, basil & capers