On Monday I woke up at 5am, sunshine blazing through the sides of my bedroom blinds and radiating a blistering heat throughout my room. Later at 8am, I peeked behind the blinds as I got ready for work and lo and behold a bright blue sky awaited – spring had finally sprung. I celebrated by not wearing a scarf to work.
The eventual delivery of spring has been tied up in ‘Sorry You Were Out!’ cards and Return to Sender stamps, each hinting that bright ball of sunshine was just around the corner. But instead all we’ve been given is sleet, snow, hail, rain and wind, alongside a healthy dose of duvet days. So when that crack of sunshine told me I might get to wear sandals this year, I immediately turned my thoughts to this spring-like pizza.
I’ve experimented with pizza dough’s in the past – packet mixes, self raising flour cheats and sneaks of baking powder. But none compare to a simple Sunday making fresh yeasted dough. At first this dough seems shaggy and unusable and looks like it would never rise. But hide next to the boiler, go watch a film and it will magically double into a pillow-soft pizza base in just two hours. Productive proving.
This pizza topping recipe is also adapted from Shutterbean, where I found the dough recipe, but with a few tweaks. In my mind a rocket salad needs balsamic and parmesan shavings and a fresh torn ball of mozzarella triumphs over goats cheese any day. But the base of this pizza is really lifted by a layer of fresh pesto, using this recipe here. Light and fresh, this pizza makes for the perfect springtime meal to share or to hoard. Personally, I’d stick a ‘Sorry You Were Out!’ through your dinner mate’s door and watch the last episode of Gossip Girl on repeat with this pizza. Sometimes spring comes with its own duvet days too.
Adapted slightly from Shutterbean
You Will Need
For the Pizza Dough
600g strong white bread flour
¾ tsp salt
¾ tsp caster sugar
335ml tepid water
7g sachet yeast
For the Toppings
2 tbsp fresh pesto (I used this recipe)
1 cup of cherry tomatoes, washed
1 ball of mozzarella, torn
2 handfuls rocket
A squeeze of lemon juice
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
A small handful of parmesan shavings
3 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt and sugar and yeast. Pour in all the water and bring together with your hands or a wooden spoon. Turn out onto a clean work surface and quickly knead until the dough is combined. Place dough back in the bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave to prove in a warm place for two hours until doubled in size.
After two hours, turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide into two. Leave to rest for a further 30 minutes.
If you want to use the other dough a different day, wrap tightly in clingfilm twice then refrigerate for a day or freeze for up to a month. I’ve frozen the second half and forgotten about it defrosting in the fridge for the day and it was fine. Be mindful to rest again before using as freezing can make the dough slightly sticky.
Preheat an oven to 240oc/220oc fan/ Gas Mark 7. Oil a large baking sheet with 2 tbsp of olive oil and carefully stretch the dough into a large rectangle. Smooth over the pesto and top with an even layer of mozzarella and tomatoes then bake for 15-18 minutes until crisp.
Meanwhile dress the leaves with the balsamic, lemon, remaining oil and parmesan shavings. Add salt and pepper to taste. Once the pizza has baked, scatter over the salad and serve immediately.