Rachel Allen was brought up in Dublin and left home at eighteen to study at the world-famous Ballymaloe Cookery School. Rachel is now a busy ...
For the dough
250 ml (9fl oz) warm water
1/2 tsp caster sugar
11/2 tsp dried yeast or 15g (1/2oz) fresh yeast or 1 x 7g sachet fast-action yeast
350 g (12oz) strong white flour, plus extra for dusting
1 tsp salt
2 tblsp olive oil, plus extra for greasing
75g (3oz) semolina, for dusting
For the sun-blushed tomato sauce
50 ml (2fl oz) olive oil
4 onions, peeled and finely chopped
8 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed or finely grated
400 g (14oz) sun-blushed (semi-sun-dried) tomatoes
1 tblsp sugar
4 tblsp tomato purée
salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the topping
2 red onions, peeled and each cut into 8 or 10 wedges
4 sprigs of thyme
6 tblsp olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
400 g (14oz) goat’s cheese, cut or broken into 1–2cm (1/2–3/4in) chunks
12 slices of parma or serrano ham, torn into slightly smaller pieces
First make the dough. In a measuring jug, mix the warm water with the sugar and yeast and leave to stand in a warm place for 5 minutes or until the mixture is creamy looking. If using fast-action yeast, there is no need to let the mixture stand.
Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl, or the bowl of an electric food mixer fitted with a dough hook, and make a well in the centre. Add the olive oil to the yeast mixture, then pour into the well and mix together by hand or using the food mixer until the dough has come together and is slightly wet and sticky (add a little more water if it seems too dry). Knead with your hands on a floured worktop for about 10 minutes (about 5 minutes in the food mixer) or until smooth and slightly springy to the touch.
Grease the bowl with olive oil and place the dough back in it, then cover with cling film and leave to rise for 1–2 hours or until doubled in size. If you gently press the dough with a floured fingertip and it does not spring back – that is, the dent made by your finger stays in the dough – then it is ready.
While the dough is rising, make the tomato sauce. Place a saucepan on a medium heat and add the oil. When the oil is hot, tip in the onion and garlic, season with salt and pepper and fry for 10 minutes, stirring regularly, or until the onion is softened and a little golden. Add the tomatoes, sugar, tomato purée and 100ml (31/2fl oz) of water, then season with salt and pepper and cook, uncovered, for 10–15 minutes or until the tomatoes are tender.
Remove the sauce from the heat and transfer to a food processor, pulsing a few times until you have an almost smooth purée, then set aside while you make the pizza bases.
Preheat the oven to 240°C (472°F), Gas mark 9, or its highest setting.
Tip the dough onto a floured work surface and divide into four portions, then roll out each piece into a disc about 25cm (10in) in diameter and 3mm (1/8in) thick. (Keep the dough that you’re not working with covered with an upturned bowl or a clean tea towel.)
Place the red onion wedges in a roasting tin and add the thyme. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, season with salt and pepper and roast for 10–15 minutes until the onion is tender and browned around the edges. Remove from the oven and set aside.
Spread the tomato sauce over the pizza bases, then add 4–5 roasted onion wedges to each pizza. Dot with the goat’s cheese and pieces of ham, then drizzle with the remaining olive oil and season with a little pepper.
Place a pizza on a pizza tray sprinkled generously with semolina to stop the pizza base sticking, bake for 2–12 minutes (the cooking time can vary hugely, depending on the oven you’re using) or until golden brown and melted on top and crisp around the edges. Repeat with the remaining pizzas, cooking them one at a time.