These truly are Mendip pizzas as all the ingredients are sourced on or around the hills. Somerset has excellent flavours: cheese, pork and apples and these pizzas, funnily enough go really well with cider. With a few bits picked up from the local shop, or grown in the garden you can produce a pizza feast.
It’s good to support local producers and reduce the food miles if possible, but it’s not always that simple. I’m not suggesting you get too precious about where the ingredients come from. Tomatoes just don’t grow on the Mendips in winter so just use a regular bought Italian style pomodoro sauce or can of tomatoes and don’t sweat about it. Some times it is just not easy to buy local, you have to have the time to go to the farm shop (on top of that trip to buy the washing powder), or the cahonas to ask the supermarket to buy in more local produce. But if more of us do it, the easier it will become.
I started cooking with spelt a few years ago and now use it in place of regular wheat flour. It’s easy to handle and I feel better using spelt flour than the normal stuff. I use Sharpham Park, as it’s a lovely local product, which you can pick up at Kilver court in Shepton Mallet, Waitrose have sold it for a few years. I prefer to order it in big sacks from Kilver Court so I know I always have some in the house.
Pizzas without tomatoes are fab too and I have given a suggestion below of a meaty one, a garden pizza to show off our lovely veg and a strong cheesey one. But regard them very much as suggestions, and find some of your own favourite local flavours.
For toppings there are some fantastic small cheese makers in the Mendips and some really major producers like Yeo Valley and Lye Cross so we’re really spoilt for choice.
Somerset Charcuterie, based in Wrington Vale produce some fantastic salamis and chorizos which pack a flavourful punch. You can find them at Axbridge, Frome, Wells and Bath farmers’ markets.
Gardens are a great source of food that is more flavourful than shop-bought and free to boot, and if you don’t grow veg it’s easy enough to plant sage, chives and rosemary. I had some tomatoes in the garden, and I roasted them with some red onions instead of making a pomodoro sauce. And in fact, gardens are a great place to find pizza toppings. If you have any courgette, chard, asparagus, broccoli, sweetcorn or green beans in season then you can wilt them first with a rapeseed oil over a high heat then add them to the pizza after you add the cheese.
Makes 3 large pizzas – you can make three different pizzas or do whatt I did and put the three flavours on each of the three bases (see main pic).
1 kg white spelt flour
2 tsp dried yeast
2 tsp salt
2 large glugs of local rapeseed oil
600 ml cold water
On the morning of the day you want to cook the pizzas mix all the ingrdients together in a large bowl with a spatula until all the flour is incorporated. Using the spatula, squish the dough for five minutes or so then cover.
You can speed up the prove by using lukewarm water if you want to prove in 2-3 hours, or get ahead the night before by using cold water and putting it in the fridge to prove instead.
When the dough has risen, heat the oven to its hottest setting. Take a third of the dough and stretch it thinly using your hands (or roll it out on a worksurface) and lay it on an oiled baking sheet, and cover it with oiled clingfilm. While you prepare the toppings let it prove.
I just used halved cherry tomatoes, roasted for 20 minutes, with some roasted red onions (you could add a couple of whole garlic cloves but feel free to make your own using a can of tomatoes or a jar of tomato pasta sauce… For three pizzas you need a whole big oven tray of cherry tomatoes so at least 500g of tomatoes and two red onions
Garden pizza: top the sauce with grated Lye Cross cheddar, charred green beans, courgettes and seasonal herbs, drizzle with garlic oil
Meat feast: top with cherry tomatoes, onions or pomodoro, grated Lye Cross cheddar & Somerset Charcuterie coppa, chorizo or salami
Cheese and onion: these are powerful flavours and you don’t need the tomatoes here. I like red onion, Draycott Blue and sliced mushroom, then when the pizza is cooked a little fresh pesto or basil oil.
Top the pizzas and put in to the oven, reducing heat to 220 degrees centigrade. After 10 minutes open the oven dorr and move them around. They will take anything up to 15-20 minutes and you can tell they are cooked when the dough is a golden brown and the cheese is melted. Drizzle with the oils and freshly ground black pepper and serve with a green salad.