Everybody loves pizza. It’s unpretentious, simple, honest food. It also comes in many guises: from the incredibly thin, crisp pizza base found in Italy, spread lightly with intense tomato sauce and strewn with slices of mozzarella, to the thick, stuffed crust of the commercial English version; there is a pizza type out there to suit everyone. Everyone, perhaps, except for the food intolerants of this world. I’ve long been working on a gluten, egg, dairy and yeast free pizza crust that would remind me of my 6 months spent in Italy, where, on a student budget, we ate slices of pizza, cut fresh from a giant, baking hot base that was lifted from the clay oven set in the wall before our eyes. The price was the equivalent to about a pound a slice and your choice was between the much loved (and in my eyes, the best) margarita or whatever the vendor felt like creating that day: sometimes mushrooms, sometimes pepperoni, once, on a heady day, anchovies and olives. We ate there every single day and never, ever grew tired of it. So I understand the importance of a good pizza, but I also understand the sometime need for a quick and simple fix.
This pizza is not the traditional affair but a cheating little number that can be whipped up in minutes. The base is made from a light dough that can be rolled out to any thickness you like, and the topping is quite literally, anything you want it to be. For me, I want an intense tomato sauce and then a selection of what can only be described as antipasti, to decorate the top. I also like to scatter over toasted pine nuts to give a savoury flavour that mimics that of parmesan or pecorino cheese and add a bit of rocket for a peppery kick. Whatever your choice, this base can be built on to satisfy any pizza craving you might have and makes a brilliant midweek supper when served with a large green salad.
This makes one 8 inch pizza which is a good meal for one or serves two if served with accompaniments. If you want to make two pizzas simply double the recipe quantities and then divide the dough into two balls, rolling them out and pan frying them separately, before transferring to the oven to cook together.
QUICK PAN PIZZA
Makes 1 eight inch pizza
For the pizza base
110g/4oz Doves Farm Gluten Free Self Raising Flour
¼ tsp xantham gum
1 tbsp olive oil
4 – 6 tbsp warm water
A good pinch of sea salt
For the pizza sauce
1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 tsp garlic oil or good olive oil
½ tsp lemon juice
½ tsp soft brown sugar
½ tsp dried oregano
A few basil leaves, torn up
For the topping
A selection of antipasti: chargrilled artichokes, olives, roasted peppers
A handful of rocket
A small handful of pine nuts
Drain the juice from the tomatoes, discarding the liquid and placing the remaining tomatoes in a small saucepan. Add the tomato puree, oil, lemon juice, sugar and oregano the tomatoes, season well and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and leave to simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in the torn basil leaves, season to taste and set aside to cool down slightly.
Preheat the oven to 200c. Using a large mixing bowl, mix together the flour, water, xantham gum, sea salt and oil until you have a stiff dough – add a little more water if the mixture is not coming together but remember that you don’t want it to become sticky. Pull the dough together with your hands and knead lightly, just stretching the dough a little to allow the xanthan gum to bind, for a few minutes. Roll the dough into a smoo
Roll the dough into a smooth ball and lay it between two pieces of clingfilm. Roll it out into a circle, approximately 8 inches in diameter and 5mm thick, shaping the edges with your fingers. Heat a large frying pan or flat griddle until very hot. Once rolled, lay the pizza base into the pan and cook until browned on one side – about 3 minutes. Transfer the pizza to a flat baking sheet, cooked side down, and then lightly spread over the tomato sauce and layer over your chosen toppings. Place in the oven and bake for 12 - 15 minutes or until the base is crisp and slightly coloured. Serve immediately.