14 ways to make the ultimate homemade pizza


Photo by Roberto Valdivia

A pizza made at home should be better than a commercial pizza. You get it fresh from the oven, made with the freshest ingredients In the combination you desire. Adding these ingredients to a homemade base that has been made with  a level of care that is not possible commercially will create the perfect pizza.

But there are tricks to the technique that will make that pizza truly wonderful.

A great pizza must have a great crust. A soggy crust will never do. Instead of piling the goodies on the uncooked dough, partially bake it first. Usually about eight minutes will do. Then pull it out of the oven, put the toppings on, and finish baking.

Don’t under bake the crust. The crust is done when the bottom is partially browned. Use a spatula or tongs to lift one edge and peek at the crust.

Never use a light coloured pan for baking a pizza. It will reflect the heat and you will have a hard time baking the crust thoroughly.

A baking stone will help bake the crust. Put the baking stone in the oven at least fifteen minutes ahead of the pizza. We like to bake our pizzas on a dark baking pan placed on top of the hot stone.

Photo by Julian Rojas Dättwyler

Place the pizza low in the oven where radiant heat from the heating elements will help bake the crust.

If you have trouble forming the pizza crust, the gluten may be the problem. Gluten gives the dough elasticity and a tight dough wants to spring back into shape. Partially shape the crust and then walk away for five to ten minutes. When you get back, the dough will have relaxed and you can finish the crust.

A pizza crust of uniform thickness is a better crust. If you are not adept at spinning the crust, roll it to a uniform thickness of about 1/4 inch with a rolling pin. You can do that on a peel dusted with cornmeal or semolina flour so that the crust will slip off easily onto the stone or pan. If you don’t have a peel, a sheet of heavy cardboard or even a wooden cutting board will do. You can also form the crust in your pan. The lips on the pan will preclude a rolling pin, but you can purchase a little rolling pin meant for the task (and for rolling pasta) that will work within the rims. If all else fails, grab a small jar and use it as a rolling pin.

If you don’t have time to make or buy your favourite sauce, a jar of spaghetti sauce will do. Homemade is better but a good commercial sauce is okay.

Photo by Victoria Shes

Some people prefer tender crusts; we prefer chewy. For a tender crust, use all-purpose flour. Our favourite crusts are made with bread flour tempered just a bit with whole wheat, rye, or all-purpose flours.


For a really great pizza crust, once the dough is kneaded, cover it and place it in the refrigerator over night. The next day, remove the dough and let it rise on the counter. Allow plenty of time for the dough to come to room temperature and rise. At lower temperatures, the yeast produces a complex yeasty flavour that is very good.

Pizza dough that is just a bit on the wet side is easier to work with and makes a nicer crust.


Toppings can be anything you want them to be. Measurements don’t count though less is usually better. Experiment with some of your favourite foods.

Olive oil makes a much nicer pizza crust than vegetable oil.

If you are having trouble cutting your pizza with a knife or pizza wheel, grab the kitchen shears.

7 Tips To Achieve The Ultimate Christmas Table Setting

You’ll be slaving over a hot stove for hours, preparing a feast fit for kings this Christmas. From the turkey to the desserts, you put love into every recipe, and your family digs in with gusto. Why not add some festive touches to the table as well, and make the presentation as breath-taking as the dishes you’ll be serving? It doesn’t take much time or money to transform your table from humbug to very merry.


Choosing a Theme


The easiest way to coordinate your decor is to choose a theme. Your theme can be as specific as a single Christmas carol, or as broad as a certain style or colour. For example, you could choose “Jingle Bells” as your theme, making the centrepiece a miniature one-horse open sleigh, and attaching bells to anything that doesn’t voluntarily move. Or, choose a “Country Christmas” theme and add lots of country touches to your table, like felt cut-outs and cross-stitched napkins.




If you’re planning on selecting colours for your table, stick with one main colour and a maximum of two accent colours. Holiday colours of green, red, and white look very festive, or accent with silver or gold for a more elegant touch. Blue and white work nicely together for a winter theme.


Table Coverings


You may have your expensive tablecloth stowed away, ready to use for your Christmas dinner. There’s nothing wrong with this, of course, but if spillage and possible staining are a major worry for you, pick up some inexpensive cotton or other fabric to cover your table with, or use clean sheets in various colours. You can even use two contrasting colours of fabric, and use the second, smaller piece to hang at an angle over the larger one. Christmas prints are cute and charming, but try to steer clear of anything too busy or bright, as the fabric will overshadow any other accents you add.


For the children’s table, cover the surface with brown paper or inverted wrapping paper and provide crayons at each setting. Christmas crackers are also great fun for kids, and look cute sitting on each dinner plate.




Centrepieces can be as simple as a small grouping of different sized candles. You needn’t go overboard and spend hundreds of pounds on fresh flowers and a beautiful decorator’s vase to hold them in.  Kilner Bottles with single flower’s add a rustic farm house feel to the table. Small baskets filled with pine sprigs and pinecones, or clear glass bowls full of bright Christmas baubles and fairy lights can transform the smallest of tables.


Keeping your chosen theme in mind, choose a centrepiece that will stand out among your dishes of food, and become a conversation piece for guests.





You don’t have to limit yourself to simple linen napkins, although this works perfectly well. Use facecloths, small hand towels, or handkerchiefs instead if you prefer. Roll your napkins and fold the roll in half, securing with a pretty bow, or fold them origami style into an interesting shape.


Napkin rings can be made from pipe cleaners, mini wreaths, liquorice strings, ribbons, artificial flower stems, or anything else you can think of that will look festive and do the job. Tie bells, small ornaments, pinecones, silk flowers, or even small toys onto each napkin ring for added decoration.


Serving Dishes and Platters


Your serving dishes don’t need to match each other to look pretty. A mixture of different styles and colours add a whimsy, country feel to your presentation. If you don’t have enough trivets for all of your dishes, cover pre-cut pieces of thick cardboard with aluminium foil and use these as shiny mats that will protect your table and still look nice.



Place Cards


If you want to use place cards to prearrange the seating at your table, use your theme to come up with imaginative ways to create or display them. Gift tags are an easy idea, and they can be attached to each napkin or wine glass with ribbon or pipe cleaners.



Pinecones can hold name cards as well, if you manoeuvre the cards so that the ‘teeth’ of the cones hold them in place. Create shapes out of clay or dough, thread the cards through candy cane sticks, or simply place your cards on the top of each dinner plate. The possibilities here are endless.


Extras and Finishing Touches


Adding candles of varying heights and colours will add warmth to your table setting. Scatter tea lights, votives, pillars, and tapers around the centre of the table, making sure that they are secure and not interfering with anything that could be flammable.


You can also decorate the stems on wine glasses with purchased wine charms or pipe cleaners, or tie small bells to each one with ribbon. Tie cutlery together in a similar fashion if you wish, or tuck utensils securely inside rolled napkins.

Mulled Gin Recipe

Our mulled gin recipe is truly delicious and is extremely simple to make.


Why not have a go.

We love it and think it makes a great personal gift when presented in our Kilner bottles. Add the Ravenhead Gin Balloons to make the gift that keeps on giving.


Easy recipe

In a large pan add the following and warm over a low heat for 5 minutes.

750ml good quality gin
8-star anise
3 cinnamon sticks
20 cloves
Zest of 2 oranges
100g caster sugar
100g cranberries

Allow the gin to cool before  pouring into a bottle to show off this delicious drink in its full glory.


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Traditional Bonfire Parkin

Traditional Parkin is a sponge cake originating from the Leeds area of Yorkshire and can be traced back to 1728. Parkin is flavoured with syrupy Molasses (treacle), Oatmeal and Ginger. This delicious treat usually dished up in the winter months around Bonfire Night becomes softer and stickier over time.





200g Butter

1 Large Egg

4 Tbsp Milk

200g Golden Syrup

85g Treacle

85g Light Brown Sugar

100g Medium Oatmeal

250g Self Raising Flour

1-1.5Tbsp Ginger (to taste)



Pre heat oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 3. Butter and line a deep 20-25cm square cake tin with baking paper. In a mixing bowl beat the egg and milk with a whisk or fork.



Over low heat melt the syrup, treacle, sugar and butter, ensuring the sugar has dissolved completely. Using a large bowl mix together the oatmeal, flour and ginger. Slowly stir in the syrup mixture, followed by the egg and milk, ensuring the ingredients are mixed together thoroughly.



Place the mixture into the baking tin and cook for 50-60 minutes. The cake should feel firm to the touch and be golden brown in colour. Once cooked remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin. Removing the Parkin too soon will lead to the parkin becoming crumbly and prevent the sponge from holding together.


Eat and enjoy!

Halloween Gingerbread Men


Halloween is a great time to get the kids dressed up, outside and having fun with their friends. It’s also a great time to get their hands dirty in the kitchen making treats with their parents.


Recently at remgent.co.uk, we challenged our two children to bake some delicious Halloween gingerbread figures. Our eight and five-year-olds were occupied for hours cooking the gingerbread figures before decorating them in their own spooky styles.


Here’s our recipe for the perfect gingerbread figures.




  • 225g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 heaped tsp ground ginger
  • 500g unsalted butter
  • 100g soft brown sugar
  • 100g golden syrup
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp salt



1. Preheat the oven to 190c/170c fan gas 5 then line a baking tray with greaseproof paper

2. Sieve the salt, flour, ginger, bicarbonate of soda and cinnamon into a large bowl.

3. In a pan heat the syrup, sugar and butter on a low heat until dissolved.

4. Leave the sugar mixture to cool slightly before stirring into the dry ingredients.

5. Once the liquid has been taken up by the dry mixture, remove from the bowl and work into a dough.

6. Place the dough in the fridge for around 15-20 minutes


Making The Gingerbread Figures

Lightly dust your work surface with flour and roll out your dough to approximately ¼ inch (6mm) thickness.

Using a gingerbread cookie cutter or our Halloween pumpkin cutter set, cut out the Halloween figures and place on the lined baking tray.

Cook for around 10-15 minutes before removing and allowing to cool on a cooling rack.




The options for decorating your Halloween Gingerbread Figures are endless. We opted for ready-made icing along with icing pens. However, you could make your own icing or use other treats to accessories your figures.



Hints and Tips

Check your dough in the fridge at regular intervals. The dough should be cool but not cold as this will help when rolling flat

Don’t be afraid to dust the dough and surface you are working on before rolling. This will prevent the dough from sticking to the surface and rolling pin.

Keep turning the dough when rolling out. This will add a smooth surface and help prevent cracking.

Cut your figures as close as possible, gather the leftover dough and re-roll to get as many figures as possible.

Leave a gap between your figures on the tray as they will expand.

The cooking times given are an estimate due to the size of cookie cutter and thickness of the dough used. A good way to know your cookies are ready is to watch the edges. As the edges begin to turn a darker shade of brown you know they are ready.

I prefer my gingerbread slightly chewy, so remove the figures from the oven as soon as I see the edges turning a darker brown.

Ensure your figures are cooled sufficiently before removing from the baking tray. This will prevent your figures from breaking.


Five Ways to Celebrate National Baking Week

National Baking Week, which is from 14th – 20th October, is at the perfect time of year. It’s when the weather cools down and everyone is getting excited about the upcoming holidays. Those holidays couldn’t possibly be complete without plenty of baking!


Whether you need an excuse to bake up some goodies or not, baking has a variety of benefits:

  • It makes your home smell delightful.
  • Baking brings out your creativity.
  • It makes others happy to receive delicious homemade baked goods.
  • You get to eat all those wonderful treats!


Need some ideas of what to bake at home? The possibilities are endless!


– Pies

Why not get busy perfecting your holiday pies now? Whether you’re going for apple, mincemeat, or something savoury like steak & ale, a proper pie dish is in order! The humble pie can be as simple or complex as you want. In a rush? Princes produce a range of tinned pie fillings from stewed steak to apple and blackberry. Simply pour into the pie dish, cover with ready-made pastry, brush with egg wash and place in the oven. Ideal for those busy work days or as an impressive addition at parties.




– Cakes

Then there are all the cakes you can make for National Baking Week too. Lemon drizzle, chocolate fudge cake, carrot cake, Victoria sponge, and red velvet are all stunning options. You can’t bake any of them though without a good cake pan. Have you tried baking your cakes in a springform pan? If not, you should! It makes creating beautiful layer cakes a snap, pardon the pun!





– Cupcakes

Cupcakes are an easy treat for everyone because they’re already in a perfect portion so there’s no cutting and serving. Plus, they’re easier to make than larger cakes. You only need cupcake liners and a 12-cup muffin tray to take any cake recipe and turn it into cupcakes. With Halloween coming up, you can make them into witches, spooky ghosts, and goblins all with frosting and toppings! They are also a brilliant way to keep the kids entertained on those wet winter days.


– Cookies

Another trick you can use to make awesome treats for Halloween is to bake cookies! Whether you choose store-bought dough if you’re in a hurry or you make it yourself, cookies will bake up their best when you choose a quality cookie sheet. If yours is warped or old, get a new one so you get that perfect ratio of softness and crispness with every bite. Looking for that soft chewy cookie? Try forming your dough into mounds instead of flattening them out and under cook for 1-2 minutes for that perfect soft chewy cookie.


– Breads

Baking your own loaf of bread for the perfect family dinner isn’t as difficult as it seems. With a loaf pan, you’ll get the right shape and a beautiful crust. Having guests around for tea? They’ll be bowled over buy the smell of warm bread as they sit down to the table. As a desert, try baking banana bread as your bananas turn brown and your children turn aghast at the sight of them.



With all those heavenly things you can bake up in your own kitchen for National Baking Week you’re going to have a lovely time. Make sure you follow the recipes and use the right baking accessories, trays, tins, and dishes. Missing something you need? remgent.co.uk has it all for professional and novice bakers alike to get into the mix!


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