Deep pan pizza

A pizza tray is useful for this recipe, they're about 99p from Tesco. If you don't have one, you can divide the dough into half and make two smaller pizzas on baking sheets. Apparently using a pizza stone is best, but I've never tried it myself.

Pizza base

350g bread flour
175-200ml lukewarm water
1 x 6g sachet fast action yeast
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp dried herbs (optional)

Sift the flour into a bowl and add the yeast, salt, olive oil and herbs if using. Make a well in the middle of the flour and gradually stir in the water. If the dough starts to get sticky, stop adding water. Knead the dough for about 10 minutes, adding more flour if it gets too sticky and more water if it's too dry. Sprinkle some flour onto the base and sides of the bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave somewhere warm for an hour for the dough to rise.

Preheat the oven to 220°c. When the dough has risen, knock the air out of it and knead for another few minutes. Roll out onto the pizza tray. Add toppings of your choice and bake for about 15-20 minutes or until the base and toppings are cooked.

Pizza sauce

Tomato sauce is the standard sauce to spread over a pizza base, you can make your own from fresh or tinned tomatoes, or use a tomato-based pasta sauce or some tomato puree.

As an alternative to tomato sauce you could spread vegan pesto or houmous over the base.

Vegan pizza toppings

A few suggested combinations:

Asparagus spears (sliced in half lengthways), artichoke hearts, sliced flat mushrooms and pine nuts, with vegan pesto and a thin layer of tomato sauce spread onto the base. My favourite impressive pizza topping combination for serving to guests.

Pineapple, vegan ham, Cheezly, mushrooms and red or green peppers

Hot and spicy
Black olives, vegan pepperoni, red chillies and red peppers

Spicy Mexican
Jalapenos, pre-cooked vegemince, chilli powder, onion, sweetcorn and red peppers

Spinaci e ricotta
Cooked spinach leaves and crumbled tofu (see spinach and tofu pasta shells for recipe ideas)

Sweet savoury
Sweet red peppers, pineapple, sundried tomatoes, onion, green olives and ground chilli flakes

Vegetariana (the standard vegetarian pizza topping in restaurants in Verona)
Tomato slices, cooked spinach leaves, crumbled tofu (ok, so the original was ricotta, but that's not vegan) and artichoke hearts

Or make your own combinations from:

artichoke hearts
vegan cheese (see note below)
vegan ham
dried herbs
chestnut or button mushrooms
flat mushrooms
vegan pepperoni
vegan pesto
red or white onion
peppers (red, orange, yellow, green or sweet pointy ones)
pine nuts
pumpkin seeds
vegan sausage slices
sauce (e.g. BBQ sauce, sweet chilli sauce)
sundried tomatoes
crumbled tofu
tofu slices or chunks

Vegan cheese as a pizza topping

First of all, let me say that cheese, vegan or otherwise, is not a compulsory ingredient for a tasty pizza. It may be what we're used to, but if the Italians don't need it then neither do we.

The best vegan pizza cheese I've found is super-melting Cheezly (I usually go for the mozzarella-style for pizzas). It does the best job of melting out of the cheeses I've tried and does look pretty good on pizza - a lot of vegan cheeses will go soft when heated but don't spread out and melt in the same way as dairy cheese. It melts best if you put fairly thin slices of it onto the pizza rather than grating it. I don't know for certain but it seems to me like they changed the recipe some time in 2008 to make it more melty than before, so if you've used it in the past but haven't tried it recently it's worth giving it another go.