Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Daring Bakers, Say Cheeeese :) Delicious Home-made Pizza

This pizza is heartfelt. It is all about a salute to finding the balance between indulgence and healthy and along the making it as made from scratch as possible. A homemade thin crust pizza topped with shredded spiced chicken, caramelized onions, mozzarella and cheddar cheese and bell peppers is just the perfect, yummylicious weekend dinner or even breakfast, I say!

Who doesn’t love pizza! But, alas, things so good are hardly ever good for you. Now, exactly what about the pizza is bad? Oh, the gallons of grease, and piles of cheese, you say; all good tasting but sadly artery clogging stuff. But, what if you could actually control all that to the normal and acceptable levels? If you could with some extra effort ensure that a pizza slice is as good-for-you a meal as any other that you make at home, would you do it? Of course, without compromising on the flavor etc. etc....

If you are willing to go that extra bit, then you are in for a happy, happy surprise! I made pizza at home. Yes, from scratch. What else did you expect from me?! The base, the sauce, the toppings, the whole nine yards. I really would not have even considered making the pizza base at home if not for browsing some of my favorite food blogs, in particular Sanaa’s ‘Easy Pizza Dough’ recipe on Cucumbertown. She makes bread-making sound so easy that I decided to give it a chance. And it was worth it! Thanks a ton Sanaa. My other inspiration to try out this delish pizza was a fab baking tray gifted by our loving aunt, Mommy. Mommy is an excellent cook (though I haven’t tasted her food yet, maybe the next time you visit us Mommy?) and a beautiful person. The day she gave us the tray I was determined to cook up something interesting using the same. “Mommy, the tray was lovely, thanks to you the pizza turned out extremely well”.

I have not attempted to make any yeast-bread at home at all. Until now... Once I set about it, I was really surprised to see how easy it was. It’s quick to prepare and an excellent on-the-go-meal option and I assure you it is worth every minute. It made me wonder why I thought all this was a painful process in the first place. But, well, happily I have been corrected of my faulty notion. And, from this day forward, I swear to give any other yeast bread more than a passing shot in my kitchen!

So, once the dough was all set, I rolled it out into an oval shaped base, topped it up with some delicious stuff and used very less cheese and hence no grease making it healthy! Simple, rustic and absolutely divine…so what are you waiting for, go ahead and make this scrumptious pizza for your family.

Simple, clean flavors… that's the way I like it...

It was delicious! So, I can really have it more often than before and with my own choice of toppings! Yippee! :)

Ingredients for the Pizza Base

2 cups All Purpose Flour
2 1/4 teaspoon Dry Yeast (refer notes)
1 teaspoon Sugar
1 teaspoon Salt
1/4 cup Water
2 tablespoon Olive oil

Ingredients for the Pizza Sauce

4 large Tomatoes; diced
4 cloves of Garlic; finely chopped
1 small/medium size Big Onion; finely chopped
1 tablespoon Tomato paste
2 teaspoon Oregano; fresh or dried (I used dried)
1 teaspoon Basil; fresh or dried (I used dried)
1/2 teaspoon Pepper; freshly milled (adjust as per spice tolerance)
1 teaspoon Paprika
2 1/2 tablespoon Olive Oil
1/2 to 1 teaspoon Red Chilli flakes (optional)
Salt; to taste

Ingredients for Caramelized Onions

3 to 4 large size Big Onions
1 tablespoon Butter
1 teaspoon Sugar
Salt; to taste
Apple Cider Vinegar or Water; just enough to soften the onions (refer notes)

Ingredients for the Topping

I used 250 grams of shredded chicken sautéed with a few spices like paprika; freshly sliced bell peppers and of course cheese. (a mixture of mozzarella and cheddar) [Please refer notes for more ideas]

Method to prepare the Pizza Base

Dissolve the dry yeast in 1/4 cup lukewarm water. Let it rest till slight bubbles form. Now add sugar, stir and keep aside for 4 to 5 minutes or till the mixture turns frothy.

Take a wide mixing bowl and add all the ingredients (including the dissolved yeast) into it. Combine all the ingredients and gently knead with fingertips until a slightly sticky dough forms. You don’t have to work your arm by kneading too much. Just get the dough together. Transfer into an oiled bowl and turn the dough so the oil coats it. Cover with a damp kitchen towel and let it rise for about 25 to 30 minutes or until doubled in volume.

Method to prepare the Pizza Sauce

Heat the oil in wok and add chopped garlic and onion into it. Sauté till the onions turn light brown. Throw in the chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, herbs, salt, pepper, spice powders and chilli flakes (optional) and sauté till tomatoes turn soft. Cover and cook for a few minutes till tomatoes turn very soft and mushy and water has evaporated. Cool the mixture and blend to a smooth puree.

Method to prepare Caramelized Onions

Heat butter in a broad pan and when the butter melts add the onions into it. Add enough salt and sugar and sauté on high heat till onions turn a lovely golden brown. Stir continuously to avoid onions sticking to pan. At this time pour cider vinegar or water little by little to soften the onions. This process is called deglazing. Repeat this process till onions turn soft and water has completely dried up. (your onions must be a beautiful golden brown and should be soft and sticky)

Method to prepare the Pizza

Punch down the prepared dough and knead lightly until it forms a ball. Transfer to a floured surface.

Roll the dough into a circle, rectangle, oval or any desired shape, flouring it as you go. Once rolled out to desired shape, transfer the base to a greased baking tray lined with parchment/greaseproof paper (optional). Slather on some pizza sauce and throw in the shredded chicken, caramelized onions, bell peppers and grated cheese.

Preheat oven at 100 degree Celsius for 10 minutes. Bake the pizza in the preheated oven at 200 degree Celsius for about 15 minutes. The base will turn a lovely golden brown.

Sprinkle a pinch of chilli flakes and oregano on top and serve them hot or warm. Yum yum yum…


1. If you are using instant yeast in place of dry yeast, just throw it directly into the pizza dough while preparing it, so that makes the process easier. But please don’t go hunting for instant yeast because dry yeast works out just fine and is not difficult at all. Just takes a few extra minutes, that’s all.

2. You can always use cider vinegar to deglaze your caramelized onions but I used water and it worked out just fine.

3. You can use any topping of your choice. Some yummy options are sausage (chicken/pork/beef), pepperoni, chicken franks, beef mince, spinach, basil leaves, sundried tomatoes, mushrooms, jalapeno peppers, fresh onions and tomatoes, any kind of grilled or prepared leftover chicken from day before’s dinner or lunch…. Oh the options are too many! Of course cheese goes without a say, anything is ok I guess, mozzarella, cheddar, goat’s cheese, feta, anything really.

Here are a few links that helped me get going to prepare this tasty pizza:

How to Quickly Caramelize Onions: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yt_0e72fs9M

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