Like most things in life, every thing is easy once you know how. For some reason chefs like to create mystery around food production. So here are some of my easy basic recipes … and trust me once you’ve used them a couple of times you won’t need them. So easy basic recipes from scratch.
Easy Basic Recipes
The 1st one I’m going to share with you is so simple, and yet the very thought of it used to break me out in a sweat.
Short Crust Pastry
If you have ever mixed up a batch of cement then you basically know how to make this pastry. Let me explain, it’s all about the ratio of 2:1:-
2 parts Sand 2 parts flour
1 part cement 1 part fat
and in both cases just enough water to bind the ingredients together.
So to make perfect short crust pastry take:-
8oz of plain flour
4oz butter/ margerine
1/2 teaspoon of salt or 1 teaspoon of sugar for sweet pastry
Place these ingredients into a mixing bowl and rub the butter / margerine into the flour (this sounds complicated but trust me its not) until the flour has all changed colour and gone slightly yellow. Then add cold water a little drop at a time whilst mixing in until a smooth dough is formed.
Use one hand for mixing and the other for pouring this way you have a clean hand to do any other things that crop up (like answer the phone or let the dog out etc…)
Once the dough is formed wrap it in cling film and place in the ‘fridge for 1/2 hour and then its ready to use.
Basic Bread Dough
Another one of those oh so simple recipes that always seem to be wrapped in mystery.
- 500 gms strong flour
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 300 mls cold water
- 1 teaspoon of quick activating yeast
Place all dry ingredients into a mixing bowl add olive oil and honey and roughly half the water and mix together by hand (using the one hand technique). You are aiming for an elastic like dough so add water sparingly (you might not need it all ).
Once dough has formed knead on a floured board.
How To Knead
Complicated term for an easy task. Just push the air out of the dough by working it with your hands backwards and forwards for at least 5 minutes, until when you spread it out it slightly resembles the bubble you can blow with chewing gum. (Not bubble shaped but the texture).
Proving The Dough
Leave the dough somewhere warm for up to 90 minutes but at least an hour. During this time it will roughly double in size this is called proving.
Oil an oven tray, preheat the oven gas mark 6. Turn the dough out onto a floured board and just knead for a minute or so. Then shape loaf (your preference) place loaf onto the oiled oven tray and bake for about 40 minutes until golden.
To check if the loaf is done tap it on the bottom, if it sounds hollow it’s done.
Adapting The Above Recipe
Using the same recipe as above you can make rolls. When you get to the 2nd knead just divde the dough into equal size parts, roll into balls and bake for 20 minutes.
Using 1/2 the flour and water and omitting the honey, mix in the same way , prove and then divide into 2. Take 1 piece and roll out with a pastry roller then add toppings of your choice (I don’t think pizza is pizza without tomatoes but that’s just me) and cook in the oven on full power for about 12 minutes (maybe longer). Enjoy. The other 1/2 can be wrapped in cling film and kept in the fridge for 2 or 3 days before using.
Once you’ve rolled out the dough to get that authentic pizza flavour spread with tomato puree and sprinkle with oregano then add other toppings (including mozzarella cheese).