“But what about pizza? How can you live without pizza?!” I’m sure you’ve all heard something of that ilk before. Pizza has become more than just a food, it’s a social event. But what do you do when the main ingredient of pizza – the cheese – is something you don’t eat?
Well there’s several things you can do. You can just forgo cheese altogether and use something else tasty – I particularly like hummus on pizza, like this one from Budget Bytes, or this curried hummus pizza from Vegan Richa – both of these pizzas are wonderful! But if you like you can go down the route of vegan cheese. Oh what a touchy subject. If you give it to non-vegans, most of them will probably go ick and refuse it – it’s an unfortunate truth that most vegan cheese doesn’t taste like dairy cheese – although I’ve heard good things about Daiya in the US and Violife here in the UK, both are pretty expensive! Vegan cheese can be good though, despite it not being a perfect copy. Today I decided to use Tesco’s Soya Cheese – apparently this is repackaged Sheese, but I’m not sure I’ve ever had Sheese so I can’t compare. I like the taste and it melts well, so it’s good with me!
As you may have noticed from the photo, my crust is perhaps not the most elegant. Why is this? It’s because I made it from scratch! Now there isn’t anything wrong with using a store bought crust and it’s really handy if you want a quick pizza, but I find there something very satisfying in making and baking your own bread dough. Mine is nothing simple and based off my mum’s recipe, which she got from an American friend of hers when she was younger.
First, you mix flour, salt, sugar, dried yeast, and olive oil in a bow, and then slowly add “hand hot” water. Hand hot water is water that you can just bear. I make it by boiling water, putting some in a jug, and then putting cold water into that. Test it by putting your little finger in the water. If you can hold your finger in for ten seconds without going ouch, but you still find it pretty hot, it’s good to go. You don’t want it to be too hot, otherwise it’ll kill the yeast, but you don’t want it too cold otherwise the yeast will never activate. Gradually stir this water into the flour mixture until it forms a rough dough. You don’t want it to be too sloppy, and you can always add more water later if needed.
The next step is the kneading. This part can get kinda tedious. If you have a stand mixer with a dough attachment, well just use that, it’s easy, but if not, you have to punch the life outta this thing. Pretend it is somebody you really don’t like, and knock it again and again. Keep doing this for about 8 minutes until the dough comes together and looks like, well, dough.
Put this dough back in the mixing bowl, cover the bowl with cling film, and a towel or some other cover. Now, if you’ve been watching the Great British Bake Off, you’ll have seen them putting their dough in a “proving drawer”. If you have a proving drawer then I am jealous of your kitchen, but go ahead and use it, but if you don’t (like most of us), you need to find a warm place to put it. In the winter that may be nearby a radiator, in the summer perhaps in the sunlight from a window. I decided to put mine in the airing cupboard.
Now comes the patience part. Forget about it for at least an hour, up to two hours is a good time to leave it. Once the time is up, take the dough out, flour a surface, and roll it out to your desired shape. The crust will rise again when baking so make it quite thin – no more than 5mm.
Now it’s time to put the dough aside whilst you make…
There are many ways to make pizza sauce. Some people like red sauce, some people like white, some people like pesto, and some like no sauce! But I’ll stick with the classic red, tomato sauce. If you want to be super posh you can cook down fresh tomatoes and make a lovely rich pizza sauce, but mine is nice and simple and easy to make.
Simply combine tomato puree, salt, pepper, sugar, dried basil, a chopped garlic clove, a splash of vinegar, and enough boiling water to make it into a spreadable sauce. That’s it, that’s all there is to it, and you have a tasty pizza sauce!
Spread this on the bases you’ve already rolled out. Next it’s time for….
The important thing with pizza toppings is that they don’t make the crust all soggy. A lot of pizza toppings are vegetables, which contain lots of water, which, when cooked, seeps out into the crust and stops it crisping properly.
Today I decided to put mushrooms and tomatoes on my pizza. After washing my mushrooms, I sliced them and put them in a preheated saucepan – with nothing else in it – and let them cook for a bit.
The mushrooms will leech a surprising amount of water – what you want is this water to evaporate, leaving the mushrooms much dryer, so that it doesn’t all leech out onto your pizza!
Tomatoes are harder because you can’t really pre-cook them, so I slice them first, then remove the wet seedy areas, and I place them on top of the cheese, so the cheese acts as a barrier between the tomato water and the crust.
So once your mushrooms are done, add these on the pizza, grate cheese on top, add your tomatoes…and there you have it! A pizza ready to go in the oven!
Put the pizza in a preheated oven, and bake for 10-12 minutes until the crust is brown and crispy, and the cheese is lovely and melted.
And there you have it, one vegan pizza!
- 400g white flour
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 large pinch salt
- 1 tsp instant dried yeast
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 250-300 ml hand hot water
- In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar, salt, yeast and olive oil together.
- Gradually pour in the water, stirring constantly, until you reach a dough like consistency.
- Turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead for 8 minutes until it forms a stretchy ball of dough.
- Put the dough in a bowl, cover, and leave in a warm place for at least an hour to rise.
- Remove the dough and roll into pizza base shapes.
- 4 tbsp tomato puree
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1 tsp vinegar (I used cider vinegar)
- 1 clove garlic, very finely chopped
- Salt & Pepper to season
- Boiling water
- Combine all the ingredients in a bowl. Slowly add in the boiling water until the paste becomes a spreadable consistency.
- Pizza dough (above)
- Pizza sauce (above)
- Pizza toppings – eg tomatoes, mushrooms, whatever you like
- Vegan cheese of your choice
- Preheat the oven to 200C (400F)
- Spread the sauce evenly on your pizzas, leaving a gap of approximately 1 cm around the edge.
- Add on all your toppings except fresh tomatoes.
- Grate the cheese over the pizza. Be generous!
- If using fresh tomatoes, add on top of the cheese.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 10-12 minutes until the crust is golden brown and firm to the touch.
- Eat and enjoy your pizza!