Pizza Buns

I love creating these pizza buns; not only do they taste amazing but they’re great fun to make and a good way of using up odds and ends from the fridge. If you have children they are a really fun project to make together, they can help weigh out the ingredients, scatter on the toppings and even roll up the dough. Once baked they freeze really well, I often freeze half the batch then simply defrost at room temperature and warm through for a few minutes in a hot oven. They’re a great savory snack, light lunch or my favourite – perfect for dunking into a bowl of piping hot tomato soup, just delicious!

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I’ve touched on the therapeutic benefits of making bread before and I can’t say enough how relaxing I find it. It’s slow paced, methodical and takes time and patience, which is ideal for calming down a frantic mind. The end result fills you with such a sense of achievement, a real pride that you have created so much from a few basic ingredients. The delicious smell of freshly baked bread, sizzling hot tomatoes and gooey, stringy cheese is just divine. When I’m going through a period of extreme anxiety, time can take on a new meaning. The thought of getting through a whole day can seem like a lifetime and fill me with panic and dread. The lack of peace in my mind means that minutes stretch out like hours. Having a recipe like this to focus on helps me to find structure without putting pressure on myself, it might sound silly but it really does work.

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It’s a good way to reach out if that’s something you struggle with. Often I want some companionship but I don’t feel I’m going to be good enough company to warrant suggesting a meeting to a friend. Making a recipe together can bridge that gap, you don’t need to talk much beyond whose job it is to cut the cheese or knock back the dough, but you wont be alone. After a while you might even find you’re enjoying yourself, often a diversion from the negative path our mind wants to take us down is enough to re-route us back to safety. If you do have a go at this recipe remember to use the #bakingyoubetter, I’d love to see your efforts!

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Pizza Buns

Makes 8 buns

FOR THE DOUGH

400g strong white bread flour

20g fresh yeast or a 7g sachet fast action dried yeast

About 240ml lukewarm water

2 tsp honey

10g sea salt plus extra for sprinkling

FOR THE FILLING

About 200g tomato sauce, make your own or use ready made pasta sauce or passata if you like.

200g Mozzarella cheese don’t use the fresh mozzarella for these as it can make the buns a little wet and soggy. I use the one that comes in a lump, think it’s called mozzarella pizza cheese.

2 tbsp grated Parmesan

Fresh basil, oregano, chilli flakes, sea salt and pepper

Semolina, for dusting

Toppings:

You can leave them as they are or add whatever toppings you like, try diced ham, sliced cooked sausage, sweetcorn, tuna, olives, anchovies, capers, sundried tomatoes, fresh chilli, spinach, pepperoni. Anything you need to use up in the fridge. Don’t overfill though or they wont roll up…

Tip the flour and salt into a stand mixer or large bowl. Mix the yeast with the water and honey and stir to combine. Leave for 5 mins if using fresh. Tip into the flour and allow the mixer to run for 8-10 mins. Give the dough a touch, it should be soft but not sticky. Add a tiny bit more flour if it’s too sticky. You can also make this by hand mix all the ingredients until you have a soft dough. Knead on a oiled surface (oil your hands too) for 10 minutes.

Oil a bowl and shape the dough into a ball by pulling the sides back into each other. Leave to rest in the bowl, covered with oiled cling film or use a clean shower cap, for about an hour, or until doubled in size.

Get all your toppings ready while the dough is rising now, I grate half of the mozzarella and cut the other half into cubes, so you get the odd pocket of melted cheese.

Roll out the dough on a surface lightly dusted with semolina flour until you have a rectangle shape, roughly 40 x 30 cm, or as large as you can get it without it becoming too thin. Spread on the sauce then scatter on toppings, cheese first. Roll up from the longest side upwards, use the paper to help you get it really tight, seal the ends with some oil to help them stick.

Using a sharp oiled knife trim the very ends then cut into about 8. Oil a round baking tray or sandwich tin and arrange the rolls in a circle, with one In the middle. Cover with oiled cling and leave in a warm place, until the have grown about ½ as big again, about 45 minutes to an hour.

Heat oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. Cook for 15-20 mins, until puffed up and golden. Allow to cool a little on a wire rack before eating.

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