Many holiday parties aren’t actually dinner parties – they are an invitation for drinks (of whatever description), and canapes (snacks, hors d’oeuvres, whatever you want to call them).
Tiny canapes are well and good, and I actually love eating them, and even making them (though perhaps not for a very large number of people at a time!), but for me, it goes against the grain to not give my guests (and myself!) something substantial to munch on, however, and these, found and adapted from my now-much-used holiday edition of a Swedish baking magazine, are one of the better solutions. First, who doesn’t love pizza? Ok, I’ve met one person who doesn’t, but she’s an exception – most people love pizza. Second, they aren’t difficult (or expensive) to make, and third, they are delicious, with just the right combo of crunch and chewiness to the crust, and a savory bite of the toppings.
The dough is yeasted, but it only (really!) does take about an hour to rise, and it’s made with plain (non-high-protein) flour, which makes it very easy to work with. And think of it this way – even if the dough rounds look a bit clumsy before raising and baking, they all puff up deliciously and look great afterwards!
What you need (makes ~20 palm-sized pizzas):
- 1/4 packet dry yeast (about 1 heaping teaspoon)
- 2.5 dl (1 cup+ 2 teaspoons) finger-warm water
- A pinch of sea salt
- 1-2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 7dl (3 cups) plain flour
Toppings (what I’ve used):
- Extra-virgin olive oil and a pastry brush to brush it on
- A handful of oil-packed sundried tomatoes, cut into thin strips crosswise
- ~10 slices of spicy cured chorizo sausage (the large-cross-section salami sort – if you have a thinner cured one, slice it thinly and use as much as you need)
- A couple of handfuls of shredded hard cheese (parmesan, romano, asiago, gran moravia or grana padano or whatever you like)
- Dried oregano to sprinkle
- Black pepper or chili flakes to taste
- Other suggestions include:
- Some pitted and halved olives of your favorite sort
- Pine nuts
- Chopped parsley leaves
What you do:
- Mix all dry ingredients of dough together (including dry yeast) in a bowl.
- Add the water and then the oil, and mix together.
- Allow to stand 10 minutes, then knead (I use a handheld mixer with dough hooks but a stand mixer or your own hands would do) until smooth and elastic. The dough will become “friendly” (stick to itself more than everything else) but will be quite soft. If you must add flour, do so sparingly, you do not want to make the dough hard.
- Place in an oiled bowl, turn, cover with cling film (plastic wrap), and a towel and place in a warm place to rise for 30 min to an hour or until doubled in size.
- Preheat oven to 200°C (Ovens vary. Mine has the no-fan option which is what I use). Cover two baking sheets with baking parchment.
- Prepare your toppings – shred cheese, cut tomatoes, scizzor slices of chorizo or salami into 1cm square-ish bits. Put in the fridge (mostly for sake of cheese here, so that it doesn’t get warm and soggy).
- Punch down the dough, knead it lightly, and roll into a sausage. Cut into halves, then again and then into ~5 pieces each to make 20.
- Roll the bits into balls and allow to sit under a slightly-damp kitchen towel while you work (to prevent drying).
- Take balls of dough one by one, and gently flatten them with your hands, then pull the edges gently to enlarge the circle until they are about 10cm on a side. Place them on the baking sheets a few cm apart.
- (This step is entirely optional – but helped me.) After you have finished all the rounds, it helps to start with the ones you did first as they had some resting time, and pick them up and stretch them a bit more if it looks they could use it. The dough will be easier to handle at this point – do not tear.
- Place the re-stretched pizza bases on the sheets (still spacing them out to allow for expansion), cover with cloth kitchen towels, and allow to rise for about 20 minutes. They will puff up visibly.
- Brush each round with a little bit of olive oil, leaving approximately 1-cm margin (this is roughly, if you splat oil around it’s not a problem of any sort), and then top with a few squares of salami or chorizo, and a couple of strips of sundried tomato. Or whatever else you like.
- Sprinkle with dried oregano and grind a little bit of black pepper on top. Add a small heap of shredded hard cheese onto the middle of each pizza.
- Place sheets in the oven. I did this sequentially, but you could also up the temperature to 210°C and put both sheets in, and swap them top to bottom halfway through baking. Bake for about 10 minutes, but watch the pizzas the entire time – as I’ve mentioned many times, ovens vary and I do not know yours! The cheese can burn really quickly if you leave them in.
- When pizzas are puffed up more, crust is golden and the cheese is melted and golden as well, take out and cool on a rack. These are fine to serve warm or at room temperature – they get a wonderfully crunchy crust when they cool down just a little.
Enjoy! And if a stray guest wanders in having not had dinner, then just hand him or her a few of these, and problem solved!