Wood Fired Oven: Authentic Pizza

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Getting homemade pizza right can be surprisingly difficult – it is a fine balance of using the right kit, getting the right temperature, the right pizza recipe and confidence. But once mastered – you’ll be creating some amazing pizza recipes and you’ll never look back.

After trying pizzas on my ceramic barbecue, which works very well, I have now realised that for the best authentic pizza cooking – a pizza oven is a must.

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Now time to get your pizza dough right. Master the dough and the rest is easy – don’t skip a step or take short cuts. If the idea of making your own pizza dough is daunting, then cheat and buy pre-made. There are some very good authentic pre-made dough – my favourite is The Northern Dough Co.

After many years of trying all types of pizza dough recipes – this is my favourite for creating thin crust pizza.

Pizza dough recipe:

8 large bases ( too much?  just freeze the rest until next time)

1000g strong white flour
10g sea salt
14g dried yeast
570ml warm water
80ml olive oil

Pizza base sauce: 3 garlic cloves peeled and crushed, 2 tins chopped peeled plum tomatoes, salt & pepper for seasoning, 2 tbsp tomato puree, a pinch of salt and a large handful of fresh finely chopped basil

Topping: 100g grated cheddar cheese, 4 slices Bresaola ham, 4 salami, 3 smoked ham, 1/2 thinly sliced pepper, 4-5 sliced mushrooms, 1 sliced tomato, 1/2 a mozzarella ball roughly torn apart and 4 slices goats cheese

By hand:

Sieve the flour and salt onto a clean work surface and make a well in the middle. In a jug mix the yeast and olive oil with the water and leave for about 10 minutes, then pour into the well. Using your fingers gradually mix the flour from the sides into the liquid. Take your time, mix larger amounts of flour in and when it all starts to come together, work the rest of the flour in with your clean, flour-dusted hands. Knead until you have a smooth, springy dough.

Put the dough into a large olive oil rubbed bowl and flour the top of it. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and place in a warm room for about an hour or until the dough has doubled in size.

When the dough has risen, remove it from the bowl and on a lightly floured surface knock it back, then knead again until smooth, roll into a ball and set aside for 30 minutes to 1 hour until risen again.

Place your dough onto a lightly oiled surface. Cut the dough into about 8 equal sized chunks and roll each one into a ball.

For the best result, slowly stretch it out by hand into a regular shaped circle. This takes time and practice and gives the best result but you can use a rolling pin roll to put the dough into the shape if you want.

Using about 2 tbsps of pizza base sauce, cover the base of the pizza leaving a rim of about 2 cm. Spread a small amount of the grated cheese over the sauce. This will stop the toppings sliding off when you take the pizza out of the oven. Then evenly distribute the meats and vegetables. Liberally cover with the cheddar, mozzarella, goats cheese and tomatoes and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Cornelius Veakins Outdoor BBQ Woodfired Chef

Using your pizza tools (lightly floured with  semolina flour to stop the base sticking) place the pizza into your pizza oven, temperature 350 – 400 F and 2 minutes later you should have the perfectly cooked pizza.

Once you’ve mastered the pizza dough, the fun starts in creating your own favourite pizzas. Anything goes with homemade pizzas.

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