How to cheat at pizza
There are endless cheat’s or quick and easy pizza recipes – most versions use breads as bases (pitta, flat bread, baguette etc.) This is a good ploy, because the foundation of a good pizza is thin flat bread, nevertheless, no matter how hard one tries to cheat one’s way around alternative ideas, most fall someway short of matching a proper pizza. To get a good cheat’s pizza it is necessary to analyse the real thing in a little more detail.
The one distinctive feature of a real pizza is the way it is cooked. A pizza is cooked raw bread dough with a topping. Both are baked at the same time, and this is where most homemade efforts fail; our normal domestic ovens are no match for blistering hot commercial stone ovens. My cheat incorporates an uncooked base and topping, but eliminates the need for hot ovens by starting the base on the hob in a pan and then finishing under a hot grill. The base and topping mostly cook together so the texture is similar to a normal pizza.
Another reason pizza is irresistible is timing. The preparation and cooking achieved in minutes (leaving aside the production of dough). Just enough time to whet the appetite and build expectations, but not long enough to tests one’s patience… This cheat is based on a quick to make batter, so the time frame is similar to a commercial pizza – ideal for making to order.
The hardest part to replicate is the pizza base; it has crunchy crusts but is soft in the middle (without being soggy). Most importantly, it has an integral strength and resilience, which holds it shape and makes it possible to eat pieces with the hands. And herein lie the big secret of this cheat – mixing breadcrumbs into the batter gives the base a strength and a taste that is very similar to pizza dough.
Finally, re-creating the experience of eating pizza requires the fulfilment of all the senses. Therefore, tick the easy boxes first and make sure the pizza is round! Then get the aromas right: use the best tomato pulp, plenty of oregano, fresh basil, olives – and stringy cheese.