Even before the world as we know it ground to a halt, Pizza Express was in trouble. A new generation of up-and-coming independent eateries was challenging the supremacy of established highstreet stalwarts everywhere. Competitors like Carluccio’s and Jamie’s Italian had already fallen by the wayside. It seemed only a matter of time before Pizza Express followed suit.
But, unlike other struggling businesses, Pizza Express had an ace in the hole. For 55 years, Brits have flocked to the honorary Italian empire, all obsessed with their uniquely chewy, razor-thin bases. Even if you prefer Pizza Hut or Dominos, there just isn’t another dough like Pizza Express'. Now, the brand has decided to throw caution to the wind and make the recipe for their much-loved pizza available to the world.
Featured on the company’s new “Homemade Favourites” webpage, fans can now recreate Pizza Express’ much-loved Margherita pizza from scratch with a recipe featuring everything from dough kneading to sauce-making.
The dish, which has been a staple of the menu for as long as the restaurant has been open, takes around 50 minutes to prepare and cook, and requires:
“150ml warm water – around 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 (and a little for drizzling); 80g of tomato passata; 70g mozzarella (or any cheese you have); Pinch of oregano; 1 Basil leaf (if you have one); Black pepper.”
Check out the Mac 'N' Cheese Pizza we made for singer Lewis Capaldi:
According to the method, cooks should:
“Preheat the oven to 230 degrees. Add the sugar and crumble the fresh yeast into warm water. Allow the mixture to stand for 10-15 minutes in a warm place (we find a windowsill on a sunny day works best) until froth develops on the surface. Sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl, make a well in the middle and pour in the yeast mixture and olive oil. Lightly flour your hands, and slowly mix the ingredients together until they bind. Generously dust your surface with flour.
“Throw down the dough and begin kneading for 10 minutes until smooth, silky and soft. Place in a lightly oiled, non-stick baking tray (any shape will do) Spread the passata on top making sure you go to the edge. Evenly place the mozzarella (or other cheese) on top, season with the oregano and black pepper, then drizzle with a little olive oil. Cook in the oven for 10 – 12 minutes until the cheese slightly colours.”
The entire recipe can be downloaded as a file from the Pizza Express website. If you’re feeling nostalgic for your favourite highstreet lunch, this could be the perfect tonic.