A couple of years ago, I found myself in a kitchen in Florence, being taught how to make pizza by a spectacularly passionate Italian.
The perfect pizza, it turns out, requires the very best Italian olive oil, flour, water and just a dash of salt. Oh, and about an hour of kneading, two hours of proving, and some fairly heavy-duty rolling out.
Or you know, you could just head to the High Street and have someone make your pizza for you.
Pizza Express is our pick of the high street pizza chains. It’s comfort food, but freshly cooked, and reasonably priced. It’s also a solid bet for families, with a fab children’s menu and open kitchens that provide free entertainment, with stripy-shirted men throwing around pizza dough. What’s not to love?
Our local branch of Pizza Express is bright and modern, all white walls and marble tables.
But some things haven’t changed. The pizza here is still cooked to order, and there are still dough balls. I pretty much worship Pizza Express dough balls – crispy on the outside, warm on the inside, and sinfully good when dunked into garlic butter. Mmmm….
How to Make Pizza Express Dough Balls
If you don’t love Pizza Express dough balls, then I’m honestly not sure we can be friends. But if you DO love dough balls, then prepare to be very happy because today I’m sharing the recipe for Pizza Express dough balls. And garlic butter to go alongside. Because I’m not a savage, and you can’t eat dough balls without garlic butter. Although the Pizza Express pesto and harissa dips come a very close second for dipping dough balls.
Pizza Express Dough Balls – Ingredients:
- 150ml warm water – roughly 27 degrees
- 1 teaspoon of sugar
- 15g fresh yeast (or 2 level teaspoons of dry yeast)
- 225g of plain flour (plus extra for working)
- 1.5 teaspoons of salt
- Extra virgin olive oil
How to Make the Dough Balls:
1. Preheat the oven to 230°C / 210°C fan assisted.
2. Add the sugar and crumble the fresh yeast into the warm water. Allow the mixture to stand for 10–15 minutes in a warm place until froth develops on the surface.
3. Sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the middle and pour the yeast mixture in.
4. Lightly flour your hands and slowly mix the ingredients together until they bind.
5. Generously dust your surface with flour, throw down the dough and begin kneading for 10 minutes until smooth, silky and soft. Leave dough to rest until soft to the touch but not too springy.
6. Roll dough into a 1.2m long tube. Chop into 16 chunks and place in an oven proof pan. Leave the dough balls to rest in the pan for 30 mins.
7. Make sure the oven has reached temperature and bake for 6 minutes until golden.
How to Make the Garlic Butter
Want garlic butter on the side? Simply blend 0.5 teaspoons of chopped garlic with 10ml of extra virgin olive oil. Add to 4 teaspoons of butter.
Are you a Pizza Express fan? I hope you’re happy now you know how to make Pizza Express dough balls! Enjoy!
The new autumn menu at Pizza Express is available now. We were provided with a free meal for the purposes of this review. For more information see www.pizzaexpress.com. And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter for a chance to win Pizza Express vouchers!