Happy Bastille Day!

I created this pizza in honour of France’s nation holiday Bastille Day.

No… no… I can’t lie. It hadn’t occurred to me to couple the two. It was a complete fluke.  But I did fancy doing something a little bit different.

I love French food, and regularly buy French products. However, apart from a bit of Crème Fraiche in white sauces, I rarely incorporate them into pizza.

The chicken was marinated for 24 hours in French white wine, garlic, herbs, pepper and oil.

I decided to fore-go the water and use French lager in the place of water (@ around 63% hydration). Those tiny 25cl bottles, I’ve not bought them as an adult – but my parents used to let me drink them occasionally at family meals when I was in my mid-teens. They’re cheap and usually low alcohol (about 2-3% abv) but these were ‘continental strength’ at 4.8%.

For the toppings – I didn’t want to lose the sauce, but I thought I’d make add a dollop of Dijon mustard to the tomato sauce. The cheese is ‘Boursin’. I’ve got some brie, but opted for the garlicky, herbiness of Bousin.

Here are the obligatory before and after shots:

The first bite was near heaven – I make one of those groaning noises that I previously thought only existed in TV food adverts, TV shampoo adverts… and er, sex. Mind you – by the last slice it was getting rather heavy, it was very rich – so maybe in the future I might have to learn how to share. Sharing pizza doesn’t come naturally to me. No way.

First Attempt At ‘White’ Pizza

Tonight’s pizza very much came from one of the many benefits of it – its ability to help when using up leftover food.  I had some pastrami, I had some soft cheese. Both needed to be eaten. Pizza time!


Soft cheese (Approx. 140 grammes)

French mustard (1 tablespoon)

Milk (just to ensure the mixture doesn’t become too thick)

Garlic Purée, Black pepper & mixed herbs – just a dash of each.

Heated for only a few minutes on a low heat hob for 5 minutes to make the soft cheese easier to work onto the dough.

Here are some more pictures of the finished article! :)

Yesterday’s Pizza

Just posting a couple of pictures from yesterday’s pizzas.

It was a 48-hr cold ferment – with mozzarella & chorizo. Thought it turned out alright… so here it is!

New flat, new oven (again), new pizza

1st shot at pizza making in a few weeks. Wow, that felt good. I left the pub to tend to my dough,  this now feels like something I need to do.

Similar type of dough structure as previously – 63% water,  0.5% Dry Active yeast, 1.8% salt, 2% sunflower oil. One slight difference, maple syrup replaced suger – I didn’t have any sugar, I don’t take sugar in tea or coffee so I’d never thought to buy any. Never-the-less, you couldn’t tell. I might try leaving the ‘sugar’ out of the equation next time – see how that works too!

The second part of this dough will stay in the fridge until Monday. We’ll see how that one goes – I’ve never previously left dough more than 48hrs before… I’m just not that patient.

Very busy ( not making pizza :( )

I’ve been away ‘back home’ for a short holiday & to attend a dear friend’s wedding. I’m spending this weekend and Easter weekend with my girlfriend. I’ve got my birthday parties coming up, evening work things, and a variety of other social things on at the moment.

And it’s all great – I’m anti-social (or, not very anti-social)…

…But I’m really looking forward to kicking back as soon as possible and making some (ok, loads) of pizza. Watch this space.

Sunday Lunch

Still reeling after my stricken calzone on Tuesday, I prepared pizza for my girlfriend for Sunday lunch. I didn’t really feel too adventurous so I stuck to the same dough recipe I’ve been using recently. It’s one I’m beginning to feel really comfortable using – and whilst I’m sure I’ll experiment with other dough I’m glad I’ve got a recipe that I know I can create a half decent pizza from.

Type 00 flour 100% Water 63%, Active Dry Yeast 0.5%, Salt 2%, Oil (sunflower) 2%, Sugar 1%

In keeping with the above – I kept the toppings simple too – mozzarella, tomato & chorizo (although, I’m determined to call it ‘Spanish Sausage’ from now on – because I can never say the word ‘chorizo’ without sounding daft & the temptation to purposely mispronounce it ‘Chore-Itso’  is too great.)

Here are some pictures – I was rather please with the turn out.

And thankfully, the weather kindly allowed us to eat out in the garden – summer is on its way!

Disaster Calzone

Made calzone on Tuesday…

Oh dear.

Tough call 1: Choosing the right toppings. You want the inside to not be dry, but not be so wet/greasy that the filling makes a bid for freedom. Unfortunately, I wasn’t lucky.  I took the easy option by choosing what was already in my fridge and needed to be eaten up – chicken, chillies, peppers and a little bit of chorizo.

I cooked the chicken and the veg first, adding a dash of passata, herbs and spices to make a sauce.

Then the mixture was left to cool before being added to the dough and sprinkled with dry, shredded mozzarella.

Tough call 2: making sure that a) the dough is the right thickness and won’t be too heavy or too thin. As you can see from the 1st picture – the calzone on the left my dough was stretched too thinly so that when the cheese & sauce bubbled up, it managed to escape through the crust. Very bad! Point b) is to crimp the calzone thoroughly. The calzone on the right wasn’t in as poor condition as it’s brother but by the end of baking some sauce had just started to make its way through the seam.

This is a close-up of the calzone on the left and it’s injuries. Any wetter and it would have collapsed entirely – it required emergency eating before it was a soggy mess.

If you look past the visual aspect, they tasted pretty great. If you see below – the filling was lovely; moist and flavourful.

Made up for any errors with todays pizza – next update soon!

Last night’s pie.

Pretty impressed with this one.

Changes from the pizza last week:

I’ve added an autolyse stage (adding the proved yeast + water to the other dough ingredients and being left for 20 odd minutes)

I also rested the dough after 5 minutes hand kneading (so 5 + 5 rest + another 5 minute knead)

Reduce the amount of salt from 3% to 2%

I blitzed the salami for around 20-30 seconds in the microwave, using several sheets of kitchen towel to soak up the grease. By the time the pizza was dress the salami did appear somewhat dry but didn’t have any noticeable detrimental effect to the finished article.

Wet mozzarella over low-moisture mozzarella.

Next time out I’m going to pretty much repeat this with a few tweaks – but I think I’ll forget the meat for once and get some fresh basil. Tradizione. I would say “like nonna used to make” but she was Scottish and  probably never made pizza dough in her life.

After that – I’ve got some fancy ideas for some less traditional toppings (including things I’ve never seen anywhere near a pizza). So, as such I’ve no idea how they might work – there’s a good chance they won’t!

The oven awaits

Cross section action

"Come here, you..."

New World

Here it is – the much anticipated (well, by me anyway) new oven made by New World – whom I had never heard of until getting in from work at 6.30pm.

(Waiting for the main oven to warm up, I inspect the top one – in this picture it seems to be almost speaking to me “feed me pizza”)

It’s going to take a bit of a ‘getting to know you’ period to bond with my oven, but after 1 run:

Massive plus:

It looks like it might achieve higher temperatures – I read the manual whilst I waited for the oven to preheat and it’s by far more efficient than the previous oven (according to the book). However, the dials do read the same as the previous oven – 240c – eventually I’ll invest in a thermal gun and find out the actual specs of the oven.

Slight minus:

It’s shallower – I’ve a 15 inch pizza stone which was pretty much hitting the back of the oven – when I slid the pizza from the peel to the stone the front end of the pizza was nearly on the door.

This pizza:

Toppings – Danish Salami, Shredded Mozzarella (Morrison’s), powdered Cayenne pepper and a dash of other spices.

Spent 48hrs cold fermenting. It wasn’t quite as supple as doughs I’ve previously made – I attempted the ‘window pane’ test and it didn’t hold up as well as I’d hoped. As you can see here – the centre of the finished does look slightly thicker, largely as I didn’t want to over-stretch it.

Finished pizza was pretty greasy – which is not unusual for salami/peperoni pizza – but I could have done with blasting the salami in the microwave for a mo’ to remove some of the grease. You can see evidence of the grease seepage in the above picture.

The tomato and cheese bonded excellently together in places – the sections of pizza that were untouched by the meat tasted the best.

Total cook time: 11 minutes, with the stone rotated after about 5 minutes to move the front end away from the door.

(The slightly darker crust on the bottom end of this photo I’m taking as a positive. I do love the charred bits on coal oven pizzas! I don’t have any photos of it, but the bottom of the pizza came out pretty well too.)

I use the dough calculator quite often @ http://www.pizzamaking.com/dough_calculator.html and used their guides to come up with:

Flour 100%  Water 63%  DAY 0.5% Salt 3% Oil 2% Sugar 1%. Next time out – I reckon I’ll try Less salt? Less oil? No sugar? I don’t know. Every time I do this – I’m never entirely happy: dough ingredients, dough storage, toppings etc.  But I will get there, I promise.


Goodbye Old Friend

My oven sadly passed away earlier in January. I’ve only just come to terms with the grief, so that explains my delay in posting anything about it.

It was, by most accounts, a crap oven. It would overcook anything – so something with a 20 minute cook time was effectively a 15 minute cook time – unless you like your food blackened. I don’t particually, so I’d watch it like a hawk. It did however enable me to cook pizza. And cooking pizza has become one of the constants in my life.

In happier times (Max’d out in pizza mode)

This is the oven’s last pizza (taken around 14th January 2011)

It would have wanted me to move on. Which is just as well, a new oven arrives in 10 days.

RIP Oven (no idea – 2011)

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