Gino D'Acampio's Pizza Making Tips #BakeWithMe

We have two sacred weekly food traditions in our house. The first is Saturday morning pancakes, which means our weekend starts with two small boys jumping on us at 5.30am. The second is Friday pizza night where the boys are allowed to choose a movie and eat pizza on the sofa in their PJ's under a blanket.

When we started pizza night, I used to make dough in my breadmachine, roll it, make sauce and get the kids involved choosing the toppings. It was messy, but the pizza was good, and the kids loved it. Then my bread machine went into storage while we sort out the kitchen. I used those packet mixes for a while, but got lazy and started buying ready-made pizzas.

So I was particularly interested when I heard about a new product which seems like the perfect compromise between ready-made and home-made. Gino D'Acampio and the team at Highgrove foods have spent the past 18 months developing a range of ready-made chilled dough pizza bases. They work in the same way as ready-made pre-rolled pastry, but you can use them straight from the fridge.

The ready-made pre-rolled dough, which contains a live yeast extract, has a shelf life of two weeks. It simply needs to be unrolled, topped and baked. It already comes on a piece of baking paper which can be placed directly onto a baking sheet and placed in the oven. Like a ready-made pizza it's clean, easy and convenient, but the beauty of it is that the kids can still get involved choosing the toppings, and I really like that.

Last Tuesday, along with some other bloggers, I was invited to Gino's house to have a sneak preview of his new ready-made bases. Gino is warm and very funny. His kitchen is spectacular, huge and gleaming with five ovens plus an outdoor pizza oven!

Gino made simple tomato and mozzarella pizzas topped with basil and parma ham. He also shared lots of pizza making tips. The process certainly is easy, fuss-free and clean. Washing up was limited to a pastry brush, a bowl for the sauce and a spoon. The baking paper kept the baking tray completely clean.

When the pizza came out of the oven we had a taste. It was very good indeed - sure it's never going to taste like a pizza you had on holiday in Rome but I'd choose it over a ready-made pizza any day, especially when I heard the retail price is just Β£1.50 for the 200g round base. He also made nutella and banana rolls with the dough - but I'll save that recipe for another post!

Gino's Pizza Making Tips:

  • When spreading the sauce, leave a 1cm gap around the edge of your pizza. A good tip is to brush the edge of your pizza dough with olive oil to crisp it, but not so much that it fries.
  • Gino says passata seasoned with oregano is all you need to make pizza sauce. I have tried this in the past and my pizzas have ended up quite soggy! I make pizza sauce by simmering 1 part tomato puree with 5 parts passata seasoned with oregano. I expect Gino uses a better quality passata...
  • Fresh pizza should be baked in a hot oven, between 200 - 220 C. If your oven is too cool your pizza could turn out soggy.
  • Don't use buffalo mozzarella for pizza, it's too wet. Cows milk mozzarella is much better. Also don't use too much cheese (Gino says the Brits use too much cheese on their pizzas) or your pizza will turn into cheese on toast! 
  • This is a great tip for pizza toppings. Delicate ingredients such as rocket, basil and parma ham should be added to the pizza a minute before the cooking time ends or they will dry out. Robust toppings, such as peppers mushrooms, olives and pepperoni can be added with the mozzarella as they can withstand the heat.
  • What's Gino's favourite pizza? He keeps things simple. Plain mozzarella drizzled with extra virgin olive oil with a sprinkling of basil is his pizza of choice served with cold meats (on the side) and a glass of chilled prosecco.

Gino's 'Bake with Me' pizza base range is avalible from Asda this week. There's three products - 200g round base, 400g rectangle base and a 'kit' which is a base and jar of sauce. Try them now for the bargainous introductory price of just Β£1.

Thank you Gino for having us round and for sharing your pizza making tips!