Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Cook in a Book: Pizza by Lotta Nieminen (Phaidon Publishing)

Pizza is a subject that causes much discussion at home. Charlotte considers herself to be something of an expert all things pizza-shaped...
"Cook in a Book: Pizza" by Lotta Nieminen is another one of those genius "books as playthings" titles from Phaidon, who are fast establishing themselves as the 'go to' for brilliantly fun and interactive 'play' books.

Lotta has dished up a fabulous recipe for a book containing tons of interactive elements, making sure that your little ones can get to work creating a pizza par excellence without completely trashing your kitchen!

There are so many fantastic elements to this book, like 'kneading the dough' - a nice squishy tactile page perfect for little ones to go to town on with their pudgy little fingers.

I think the only bit I had any concerns about was the last page where you can pick out a slice of your perfect pizza pie. Was a bit worried that it would either get lost, or get eaten / swallowed by little ones so it's best to keep that in mind if you do have very young kids around that might get hold of this (and considering it's a board book, that's definitely possible).

Loved it though, both of us thought this was so good that we thought we'd share our own perfect pizza recipe you can make from scratch.

You will need: 

For the base: 

250g of strong plain flour (breadmaking flour is great but surprisingly, OO flour also works or if you're a healthy type, you can opt for wholemeal flour too

½ teaspoon of dried yeast

150m of hand-warm water (not boiled, just warm!)

Splash of olive oil

For the topping: 

½ tin of plum tomatoes (or around 75ml of passatta if you prefer)

Good squeeze of tomato puree

Mozarella cheese (go for the pre-grated stuff for quick and easy pizzas, or get some proper buffalo mozzarela and slice thickly if you really want to be posh!)

Any other toppings you like (sweetcorn, pineapple, chorizo, maltesers, twixes - OK we're kidding about the maltesers)


Put the dry base ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Slowly stir in the hand-warm water and mix until you start to get a firm dough. Add a splash of olive oil to the dough until it starts to become elastic and squishy (some folk prefer to add the yeast to the water and then add that to the flour but it's up to you really, both methods seem to work fine for us).

Once the base dough is ready, cover your bowl with cling film or a teatowel and leave somewhere warm for 2-3 hours until it doubles in size or starts to rise.

Mix the passatta / tomatoes with the tomato puree - if you have a blender, whizz them together to get a nice thick tomato paste.

Once your dough has risen, knead it a little more into a nice flat shape (if you have a round pizza dish or shallow round tin, form your base around that, as it makes it a whole lot easier than trying to hand-roll out a base shape and risk dropping it on the floor!)

Spread your dough out on the tin or baking sheet, and use a tablespoon to cover the base with the tomato mix.

Sprinkle on the mozzarella and decorate with your other toppings.

Bake in a hot oven (at least 200 C) for around 14-16 minutes or until the cheese starts to bubble and brown!


"Cook in a Book: Pizza" by Lotta Nieminen is out now, published by Phaidon (kindly supplied for review).