My children’s love of Nuddy Ned can be blamed squarely on my parents.
When EldestGirl was about three years old, she went to stay with Grandma and Grandad, and they took her to the library and brought back a copy of Nuddy Ned. My parents – clearly with the same sense of humour as an average three year-old, declared it an instant classic, and bought EldestGirl her very own copy to keep. Over time, it has been handed down to YoungestGirl and it remains a family favourite.
The story of Nuddy Ned, a rhyming book written by Kes Gray and Garry Parsons, is quite simple; a cheeky little boy has just had his bath and has decided that instead of putting his clothes on, he’d rather be naked. He then goes on a mad dash around town, pursued by his parents, who are desperately trying to get him dressed. The hilarity for grown ups are the lift-the-flaps on each page, where you have to look under a bumble bee, or a shopping bag, right where Ned is standing, presumably to see his private parts (I did warn you my parents have a juvenile sense of humour). The joke is that each time, there is something else in the way – a flower behind the bee etc. that means – of course – the book remains completely innocent.
EldestGirl’s favourite part of the book was always when naughty Ned rushes into the pizza parlour. “The pizza topping counter is precisely where Ned sat…” – both children love to join in and shout along with Ned, “Good evening ladies and gentlemen, I’m Nuddy Ned. TOP THAT!”
Ned’s mum and dad eventually relent and join him in his quest for nudism. I’m not sure what message it gives to small children, but I rather suspect it’s along the lines of, “If you are persistent enough in your dick-headery, your parents will probably just give up.” I don’t think that’s necessarily inaccurate.
Bonus suggestion: Nuddy Ned is the easiest World Book Day costume ever. But might possibly get you involved with Social Services.
For this month’s Let’s Cook the Books, we made pizzas from Nuddy Ned.
I have made my own pizzas for years – for so long that in fact, I can’t actually remember where I originally got my pizza dough recipe from. I think it’s tweaked from a couple of different places, but this one has been reliable for me for a while.
- 250g plain flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 7g sachet yeast (or a teaspoon and a bit)
- 1/2 tsp caster sugar
- 150ml warm water N.B. if you have never made dough before, be sure the water is warm, NOT hot, or it will kill your yeast and your dough won’t rise. You’re aiming for body temperature water.
So long as you’re sure your yeast is OK (i.e. it hasn’t been sitting in the back of the cupboard for months and months), just bung all the ingredients together in your stand mixer, or by hand if you’re a purist.
If you are worried about your yeast, first, chill, it’s only yeast. Secondly, you’ll need to “prove” it. Pop it in a glass with a splash of warm water and leave it for five minutes. If it bubbles, you’re good to go! If it doesn’t, buy more yeast!
Knead the dough (or let the machine knead it) for about ten minutes, then cover with a clean tea towel. I have always wondered why recipe writers specify it needs to be a clean tea towel. It’s sort as if they distrust their readers and imagine everyone is using filthy old dishrags unless specifically instructed otherwise. Let it rise for an hour or more, then knock it back down.
Shaping the dough is the hard part, as it will tend to stick to any surface, including a rolling pin. Scatter loads of flour down and just make it an approximate circle. I tend to stretch the dough by hand, as that seems to work best. You’re aiming to get it as thin as possible – ideally less than half a centimetre thick. Mine’s always a bit uneven in places. The good thing about getting the children involved is that you can pretend that the “rustic” look is their fault.
Repeat this process for all of your children, as obviously they will refuse to eat the same toppings as each other, so you will need to make at least three different pizzas.
Any leftover dough can be made into dough balls, like the ones they serve at Pizza Express, and garlic butter is a piece of piss to make (just mix some chopped garlic with some butter, then leave in the fridge for half an hour to firm up again after you’ve smooshed it all around). If you don’t fancy this, dough freezes really well, so you can stick it in the freezer to defrost and use another day.
Heat your oven to about 200 degrees for a fan oven, maybe slightly more if it’s not a fan oven. Put a splash of olive oil onto your baking tray, pop the pizzas carefully on the tray. I always put the pizzas on the tray before topping them, as it’s less to end up on the floor.
I make my own pizza sauce with about half a tube of tomato puree, a good squirt of tomato ketchup, and some frozen basil. I buy frozen basil from Waitrose in little packets because I can’t even keep a basil plant alive. It doesn’t bode well for the children, does it?
Once you’ve made your pizza sauce, then it’s simply a case of TOP THAT, with whatever toppings your children will tolerate. We went for cheese, ham and sweetcorn, in varying combinations. Then just bung the pizzas in the oven for about 15 minutes. Listen to your children complain about how they don’t like the homemade ones as much as the ones from Aldi.
Cry. Eat pizza. Feel slightly better.