We gathered at my cousins last night for a family pizza making session and to use the cousins new earthfire ceramic pizza oven. What a win!
I made the dough and decided on JO’s basic version out of his book ‘Italy’ as I had eaten it before at another pizza making party.
- 1kg bread flour (he recommends 800gm bread flour and 200gms semolina flour..but since this ingredient can’t just be acquired at Pick n Pay on a Sunday afternoon – we had to settle on just bread flour)
- 14 gms instant yeast
- 1 level Tbs fine salt
- 1 Tbs sugar (caramel)
- 650ml tepid / luke warm water
Dissolve the yeast and sugar in the water and let it stand for a few minutes. Pile the flour and salt on a clean work surface and make a large well in the middle (18cm wide). Add the liquid into the well. Be carefull not to break the banks of the flour wall (as I did- and then it spewed all over the place) and gently using a fork work the flour into the liquid until it comes together as a sticky pile.
When its integrated start kneading it on the work surface for about 10 minutes — pushing and pulling until you get a smooth and soft dough. I think I’m going to do this in a bowl next time and take it out when its time to do the kneading. It’s just way too messy and I’m not sure if its necessary. On the bread making course we made the dough in bowls. I am also going to add some mixed herbs and perhaps some sesame or poppy seeds to give the base a bit of crunch.
Place the dough into a bowl and cover with cling film and leave for about 15 minutes. I also think it will be a good idea to lightly grease the top of the dough with olive oil — or a light spray of olive oil as when it rises and hits the cling film it really does cling (or use a tea towel)
Divide the dough into balls to make the pizza bases – about 6 – 8 is good depending on how big you want to make the pizza’s, then roll. The smaller pizza’s are a bit easier to manage.
JO then recommends leaving the bases for 10 – 15 mins before topping…not sure why.
I didn’t follow any of the steps after the kneading stage. It ‘proved’ for at least an hour and a half and doubled in size before we started making the pizza’s. Next time I am going to make the mix closer to the pizza making time and allow the bases to stand a bit.
I don’t mind that the bases were not perfectly round — some of them resembled the shape of africa. Rustic is good.
We had great fun making the pizzas and my nephew’s came up with an exceptional one: tomato sauce, garlic, smoked salmon, fresh basil, mushrooms and mozzarella. Yum!
The ceramic pizza oven works incredibly well and each pizza takes 5 minutes to cook and you can happily pause in between shovelling the next one in as the oven stays hot for up to 2 hours provided you have sufficient coals. The paddle thing that comes with the oven is apparently called a ‘pizza peel’ which was a new one for me…very effective and necessary.
I didn’t get a shot of the cooked pizza as I got very carried away with all the rolling and making….next time. I have a little Cobb (BBQ) and think this will work perfectly as ‘my’ pizza oven in the future. I may just need to rush out and get a peel though.
top tip: my cousin has one of these steel hot coal making gadgets which is very effective in making coal very easily and quickly, just light paper underneath.