Revealed! How YOU can recreate restaurant favourite pizzas at home

As restaurants start selling DIY pizza delivery kits, GBBO finalist reveals how YOU can create your chain favourites for a fraction of the price – with Franco Manca’s Margherita costing £1.45 and PizzaExpress American Hot just £2.11

  • Holly Bell, from Leicestershire, shared guide on how to recreate restaurant pizza 
  • £2.11 to make PizzaExpress American Hot and £1.45 for Franco Manca Margherita 
  • Comes after PizzaExpress launch DIY Kits for two, priced between £14 and £16 
  • Delivery boxes include ingredients needed to create two, 14-inch pizzas at home
  • Pizza Pilgrims and Franco Manca have also released do-it-yourself meal kits

With restaurants forced to shut down once again, chains have tried to cash in by selling do-it-yourself pizza kits which can be delivered in the post. 

PizzaExpress is the latest to follow in the footsteps of Pizza Pilgrims and Franco Manca, and is offering meal kits from January 11, priced £14 for a Margherita and £16 for an American Hot     

But with many of the high-street chains releasing the recipes for their much-loved pizzas throughout the first lockdown, is it really necessary to fork out for the DIY kits when you can just buy the ingredients yourself? 

Great British Bake Off 2011 finalist Holly Bell, from Leicestershire, has shared a simple step-by-step guide on how you can recreate your own restaurant favourites at a fraction of the cost.

And with a DIY version of the Franco Manca Margherita pizza costing as little as £1.45 and a PizzaExpress American Hot just £2.11 per person, there are big savings to be made…

Holly Bell, from Leicestershire, has shared a simple step-by-step guide on how you can recreate your own restaurant favourites at a fraction of the cost. Pictured, top row left to right: Pizza Pilgrims Margherita, Pizza Express American Hot and Franco Manca Sourdough Margherita pizza. Pictured bottom row, Holly’s DIY versions

HOW TO MAKE THE PIZZA PILGRIMS MARGHERITA FRYING PAN PIZZA

Price of Margherita frying pan pizza kit (for two people): £13.95 (£6.90 per person) 

Total cost of Holly’s pizza (per person): £3.82

Total saving compared to buying DIY kit: £3.08 

Pizza Pilgrims have launched Frying Pan Pizza Kits, so Brits can create top-notch, restaurant quality pizzas while at home. Pictured, Margherita frying pan pizza

Pizza kit ingredients: 

– 2 x Pizza Pilgrims Neapolitan 48 hour proved dough balls with Caputo Flour from Naples

– Marinara sauce for 2 pizzas

– Fresh Fior Di Latte for 2 pizzas

– Fresh Basil

– Parmesan

– Pesto Crust Dipper for dipping your crusts! 

Price of Margherita frying pan pizza kit (pictured) for two people will cost you £13.95

Breakdown of Holly’s supermarket ingredient costs: 

· ½ tsp fast action easy yeast (3p)

· 130mls cold water

· 145g 00 flour, plus 25g to work the dough into a pizza with (26p)

· 1 tsp table salt (1p)

· 2 tbsp olive oil (17p) 

· 2 tbsp Italian chopped tomatoes (3p)

· 150g Fresh Fior Di Latte Mozzarella, drained weight (or similar if you can’t get hold of this) (£3)

· 1 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese (22p)

· 5 fresh basil leaves (10p) 

Method:

1. Mix the yeast into the cold water until it dissolves.

2. Weigh the flour into a bowl, make a well in the middle and add the yeast mixture. 

Stir with a spoon until it comes together, then add the salt and stir again. It will be very wet, the Pizza Pilgrims say we are looking for the consistency of custard.

3. Lightly oil your work-surface and hands with 1 tbsp of the oil, then scrape the dough out onto the work surface. Knead the very wet dough by pushing it backwards and forwards for 10 minutes. 

Leave to rest for 10 minutes, then repeat the kneading for a further 10 minutes. Place back into the bowl, cover with clingfilm and set aside for a minimum of 8 hours, 24 if you have planned ahead.

4. To make the tomato sauce, take the tinned tomatoes and hand mill (push!) them through a wide sieve as the Pizza Pilgrims do. 

Don’t forget to place a bowl under the sieve to catch the tomato sauce and discard any skin or seeds left in the sieve. Drain your mozzarella well and cut roughly using scissors.

5. When you are ready to make your pizza, preheat the grill to the hottest setting and place a non stick frying pan onto the hob, again on the hottest setting.

6. Use half the extra 00 flour to sprinkle on your work surface, tip the dough out and sprinkle the rest of the flour onto the dough. 

Use your fingertips to push the dough into a circle about 10 inches across. Carefully transfer to the very hot frying pan.

7. Add a thin layer of the sieved tomatoes, leaving a couple of centimetres around the edges for the crust to puff up.

8. Add the Parmesan, basil leaves and mozzarella, in that order.

9. Drizzle with olive oil.

10. Return to the hob for 1 – 2 minutes, until the base has browned (you can lift it carefully to check).

11. Place the frying pan under the very hot grill until the crust has taken on some colour – this can take 1 minute or 5 depending on your grill – be careful the oil doesn’t catch fire! Then serve.

Verdict: This was a nightmare from start to finish. The dough was supposed to be the consistency of custard, but this is a really vague reference point. 

The dough I made was very wet; you really need a dough scraper to work with it. It also transferred badly to the pan. 

I couldn’t find the cheese in my local supermarket or their Caputo flour, so used their premium mozzarella which may have been a mistake as it pooled around the base once I put it under the grill. 

Then the oil on the pizza set on fire under the grill! I think this recipe is for experienced bakers only really who have a lot of time on their hands (I rarely anticipate I want pizza 24 hours in advance) and frankly it’s so messy and hard to source the ingredients I’d rather order the kit. 

Despite all this, taste wise it was pretty good, if a little salty.

Ease: 1/10

Sourcing ingredients: 0/10 (especially in lockdown)

Taste: 7/10 

Holly’s finished version of the Pizza Pilgrims Margherita frying pan pizza

HOW TO MAKE FRANCO MANCA (SOURDOUGH) MARGHERITA PIZZA 

Price of Franco Manca pizza kit (for two people): £12.50 (£6.25 per person) 

Total cost of Holly’s pizza (per person): £1.45

Total saving compared to buying DIY kit: £4.80

You can now make your own Franco Manca pizza at home with the help of our pizzaioli, using properly sourced, fresh ingredients directly from the pizzeria. Pictured, Margherita pizza

Pizza kit ingredients: 

– Sourdough

– British mozzarella 

– Organic tomato

– Type 0 flour

– Extra virgin olive oil  

The Franco Manca (sourdough) Margherita pizza kit (for two people), costs £12.50 and includes: Sourdough, British mozzarella, Organic tomato, Type 0 flour, Extra virgin olive oil (pictured)

Breakdown of Holly’s supermarket ingredient costs (per person):  

· 125mls warm water

· 15g sourdough starter (free from a friend)

· 1 tsp organic extra virgin olive oil (5p)

· 190g type 0 flour (or 00 if you can’t get it), plus 25g to work the dough into a pizza with (33p)

· 5g fine sea salt (you can buy flaked and crush in a pestle and mortar) (2p)

· 150g British mozzarella, drained weight (70p)

· 2 tbsp organic Italian passata (20p)

· 1 tbsp organic olive oil to drizzle with (15p) 

Holly provided a breakdown cost of each of her ingredients (pictured)

Method:

1. Stir together the water and sourdough starter until dissolved. Add 1 tsp of the oil and stir again.

2. Place the flour and salt into a large bowl, mix well and add 1/6th of the liquid. 

Mix with your fingertips. Repeat with another 1/6th of the liquid at a time, mixing as before after each addition. Rest the dough for 15 minutes to give the dough time to absorb ,the liquid.

3. Knead the dough in the bowl for 5 minutes using your knuckles. You can use extra flour to stop them from sticking. Cover the bowl and leave for 1 hour.

4. Knock back the dough gently by folding it over 4 times, form it into a ball and then recover with clingfilm, making sure it’s airtight. Leave at room temperature (20 – 23C) for 16 – 18 hours.

5. When you are ready to make the pizza, preheat the grill to the highest setting and place a non-stick frying pan onto the hob, on the highest setting. Drain the mozzarella and cut into slices.

6. Sprinkle your work surface with flour, tip the dough onto it, sprinkle a little more on the top and use your fingertips to pat the dough into a 10 inch pizza base.

7. Lay the pizza base flat in the hot frying pan, then reduce the hob to a medium heat. Spread a very thin layer of organic passata on the top.

8. Add the sliced mozzarella and olive oil.

9. Carefully check when the base has browned – this can take from 2 – 7 minutes.

10. Remove from the hob and place under the grill for about 2 minutes until the cheese has browned slightly. Serve.

Verdict: Despite the fact I had to beg a friend for some of her sourdough starter, and the wait time for this dough, it was actually really easy to work with. It was also delicious!

I think if you are the kind of person who likes to go the extra mile, then this recipe is excellent and it’s well priced too.

Ease: 4/10

Sourcing ingredients: 5/10

Taste: 10/10 

Price of American Hot kit (makes two 14-inch Romana pizzas):  £16 (£8 per person) 

Total cost of Holly’s pizza (per person): £2.11 

Total saving compared to buying DIY kit: £5.89

PizzaExpress has opted to follow in the footsteps of Pizza Pilgrims and Franco Manca to offer do-it-yourself meal kits. Pictured: An American Hot meal kit

Pizza kit ingredients: 

  • PizzaExpress dough
  • PizzaExpress passata tin
  • Mozzarella
  • Pepperoni
  • Hot green Roquito peppers
  • Herbs and spices 

The American Hot kit also includes pepperoni and green Roquito peppers. Pictured: The finished restaurant pizza

Pictured: How customers can use the American Hot kit to create their own PizzaExpress favourite at home

Breakdown costs of Holly’s supermarket ingredients (per person):   

· 150mls warm water (think baby bath temperature)

· 1 tsp white sugar (1p)

· 7g sachet fast action dried yeast (11p)

· 225g plain flour plus 50g for dusting and kneading (11p)

· 1 ½ tsp table salt (1p)

· 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for greasing (17p)

· 125g mozzarella, drained weight (£1.13)

· 1 heaped tablespoon of passata (10p)

· Black pepper (2p)

· 1 hot green pepper (20p)

· 8 slices pepperoni (25p) 

Holly provided a breakdown cost of each of the supermarket ingredients (pictured)

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 230C/gas mark 8. It might seem really early to put the oven on, but the secret to great pizza at home is a super-hot oven, properly preheated.

2. Measure the water into a jug, add the sugar and yeast, stir well and set aside for 10 minutes in a warm place until it starts to froth and bubble on the surface.

3. Weigh the flour and salt into a bowl and stir well, make a well in the middle and add the frothy yeast mixture and the olive oil.

4. Stir with a spoon until the dough comes together then tip it onto a well-floured work surface, flour your hands and start to knead the dough.

5. There’s no right or wrong way to knead – a stretching motion works well, but you can pick it up and throw it onto the work surface if you prefer. Kneading dough is a good stress reliever! 

After 10 minutes the dough should look silky and smooth. Transfer to an oiled bowl and cover with clingfilm to rest for 15 minutes. 

In the meantime drain your mozzarella in a sieve and squeeze to remove excess moisture. Slice the hot green pepper and add to the sieve to drain of vinegar.

6. Place the dough on a well-floured work surface and squash down into a circle shape using your fingertips. 

Add a little flour to the top and use a rolling pin to stretch the dough until ½ cm thin. If you don’t have a rolling pin, a clean wine bottle works very well!

7. Place the dough onto a lightly oiled baking tray. If you find it tricky to transfer you can fold it into quarters and unfold on the tray.

8. Spread the passata evenly over the dough, very thinly. Don’t be tempted to add more as the pizza will be soggy.

9. Cut the mozzarella onto the pizza using scissors. Be sure to evenly distribute the cheese.

10. Sprinkle the hot green pepper slices over the top, then add the pepperoni slices.

11. Add a little black pepper then bake in the oven for 10 – 12 minutes until the cheese is starting to brown and is bubbling. Add fresh basil to the top before serving if you like.

Verdict: Just as easy as the Margherita to make. The only issue would be sourcing the hot green peppers. Easy to find in my local supermarket, but smaller ones may not stock them. 

You could use regular chillies, finely chopped, or add dried chilli flakes to the pizza once baked instead.

Ease: 10/10

Sourcing of ingredients: 9/10

Taste: 8/10 

HOW TO MAKE PIZZA EXPRESS MARGHERITA PIZZA 

Price of Pizza Express Margherita kit (makes two 14-inch Romana pizzas): £14 (£7 per person) 

Total cost of Holly’s pizza (per person): £1.69

Total saving compared to buying DIY kit: £5.31 

Pizza Express also shared a clip of one of their staff members attempt of making the pizza at home

Pizza kit ingredients: 

– PizzaExpress dough

– PizzaExpress passata tin

– Mozzarella

– Herbs and spices

Breakdown of Holly’s supermarket ingredient costs (per person):

· 150mls warm water (think baby bath temperature)

· 1 tsp white sugar (1p)

· 7g sachet fast action dried yeast (11p)

· 225g plain flour plus 50g for dusting and kneading (11p)

· 1 ½ tsp table salt (1p)

· 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for greasing (17p)

· 125g mozzarella, drained weight (£1.13) (NB: recipe states 70g but this isn’t enough)

· 1 heaped tablespoon of passata (10p)

· Pinch of dried oregano (1p)

· Black pepper (2p)

· 1 fresh basil leaf (2p) 

Holly broke down the cost of each of the supermarket ingredients (pictured)

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 230C/gas mark 8. It might seem really early to put the oven on, but the secret to great pizza at home is a super-hot oven, properly preheated.

2. Measure the water into a jug, add the sugar and yeast, stir well and set aside for 10 minutes in a warm place until it starts to froth and bubble on the surface.

3. Weigh the flour and salt into a bowl and stir well, make a well in the middle and add the frothy yeast mixture and the olive oil.

4. Stir with a spoon until the dough comes together then tip it onto a well-floured work surface, flour your hands and start to knead the dough.

5. There’s no right or wrong way to knead – a stretching motion works well, but you can pick it up and throw it onto the work surface if you prefer. 

Kneading dough is a good stress reliever! After 10 minutes the dough should look silky and smooth. 

Transfer to an oiled bowl and cover with clingfilm to rest for 15 minutes. In the meantime drain your mozzarella in a sieve and squeeze to remove excess moisture.

6. Place the dough on a well-floured work surface and squash down into a circle shape using your fingertips. 

Add a little flour to the top and use a rolling pin to stretch the dough until ½ cm thin. If you don’t have a rolling pin, a clean wine bottle works very well!

7. Place the dough onto a lightly oiled baking tray. If you find it tricky to transfer you can fold it into quarters and unfold on the tray.

8. Spread the passata evenly over the dough, very thinly. Don’t be tempted to add more as the pizza will be soggy.

9. Cut the mozzarella onto the pizza using scissors. Be sure to evenly distribute the cheese.

10. Add a little dried oregano and black pepper then bake in the oven for 10 – 12 minutes until the cheese is starting to brown and is bubbling. Add fresh basil to the top before serving if you like.

Verdict: Simple and easy to make with minimum wait time for the dough. The plain flour makes it cheaper and easier to source the ingredients. 

The oil trick on the baking tray makes for a crisp crust, which is a good hack for making pizza at home given most domestic ovens don’t get hot enough to make truly crisp pizza. 

Oh and the Pizza Express pizzas were by far the largest, which for my greedy heart, is a win.

Ease: 10/10

Sourcing of ingredients: 10/10

Taste: 8/10 

Holly’s Top 5 Tips for Making Pizza At Home 

1. Preheat your oven to its hottest setting 30 minutes before you plan to bake your first pizza.

2. If your oven doesn’t get very hot, roll your dough in polenta or fine semolina – it’s much easier to roll and ensures the base is dry and crisp.

Holly (pictured) has revealed her top 5 tips for making pizza at home

3. Don’t add loads of toppings; the more you add the more likely you’ll end up with a soggy pizza base.

4. Drain, and even squeeze your mozzarella before adding it to the top.

5. Make your own delicious pizza sauce; simmer a tin of shopped tomatoes, 1 tbsp tomato puree, 1 tsp sugar, a knob of salted butter and some black pepper in a saucepan for half an hour. Leave to cool and blend until smooth. 

Freeze in ice cube trays and defrost as and when you want to make pizza.

Frying Pan or Oven?

I’ll admit I was pretty skeptical about the frying pan method, but it really does result in a superior base… almost food fired in taste and appearance. 

However, this method is only really worth doing if you’re baking one pizza to share or just for yourself. If you need to make more than one pizza, the oven is the best way to make sure you get to enjoy your efforts together.

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