Soppressata

I was really starting to crave pizza yesterday having not had any for a good couple of days, so I decided to make some. I did my favourite skillet-broiler method (first time with my cast iron pan) and it was all so lovely and easy. I used loads of semolina flour on the outside of the crust so it really crisped up and was glorious.

But of course the real exciting addition this time was the soppressata I topped it with. Soppressata is an Italian salami that makes a pretty great pepperoni alternative, and I’ve been looking for it for aaages so I was super excited to see it in Waitrose.

Here are all the recipes I used:

Weber

Since the sun was out, my brother and I got out the barbecue to make some pizza for what turned out to be an incredibly long lunch. The Weber has an insert to turn it into a pizza oven which gets sandwiched between the grill and the lid. I put a pizza stone on the bottom, and a big piece of circular steel (and a load of tin foil to make sure there were no gaps) on the shelf above to help the pizza cook on the top. We struggled to get the fire hot enough at first but once we started throwing in wood chips the temperature gauge on the front quickly maxed out (and in fact totally burnt so we couldn’t even see it eventually). We did have to constantly throw in wood chips to keep it hot – and by we, I mean Theo, who spent a long time crouching by the barbecue with smoke in his eyes trying to throw handfuls of wood chips through the fairly small hole in the front while being rained on (the sun did not stay out).

As far as the pizza itself goes, I used a Neapolitan dough that rose overnight (recipe here) and topped it with some passata, mozzarella and some strange overpriced Hungarian sausage which was the closest thing to pepperoni Waitrose had (but was delicious). The stone was so hot for some of the pizzas that the bottom cooked in about 30 seconds meaning I had to spent quite a while in front of the Weber holding the pizzas right near the roof to brown, also being attacked by an onslaught of smoke to the eyes.

Despite a couple of burnt bottoms, this turned out to be some of the best pizza I’ve ever made at home, so once I’ve bought myself some goggles to stave off the smoke from my eyes, I’ll be getting this out a whole lot more.

Nduja

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We’re waiting for the rain to hold off for long enough to get the BBQ out and start making some pizza outside, but in the meantime we kicked off pizza season with some skillet-broiler pizza. Big bro made some dough a couple of days in advance and we got ourselves a jar of nduja – a spreadable Italian spicy sausage which you can put on in dollops – and it made a pretty great alternative to pepperoni. If you want to get yourself some (and you should), it’s sold at Carluccio’s.

Wood Fired Oven

Although the sun and the scenery was all very nice, the most exciting part of my holiday this year was that THERE WAS A WOOD FIRED OVEN AT THE HOLIDAY HOUSE!!

This ranks in top ten most exciting things in the world for me, so I started to prepare a few days before the night we had set for pizza night by making some dough. The odds were against us from the beginning, since we speak zero Portuguese and had a fairly hard time working out the different types of flour in the supermarket. Then we couldn’t find any yeast (partly because we didn’t know the word for yeast), so in a controversial move, I went for a bread mix. This came back to bite me a bit later because when I was making the pizzas, I didn’t have any flour to dust the surface with, only bread mix.

Then I was a bit ambitious and decided I’d make a wet dough so it would be nice and bubbly, and ended up making a dough that was probably closer to being a liquid than a solid.

In the end it was a bit of a disaster really since forming the liquid dough into anything resembling a pizza was pretty hard, and I didn’t exactly know what to do with the fire, but several hours later we had made six pizzas, and even disastrous pizzas are still pizzas, so I was happy.

PIZZA TIME – attempt 4

Last night was attempt 4 of pizza making, this time with a new pizza peel and semolina flour. These were the results:

Pizza tossing: Han and I both mastered the two handed pizza toss after several near misses, one landing dangerously close to the open bin.

Pizza base: ten out of ten for the semolina flour but it only had about 40 minutes to rise so not the bubbliest crust I’ve ever made. Put the left over dough in the fridge and it grew into a monster over night and has taken over most of the fridge. Fingers crossed it will make an incredible pizza.

Cheese: co-op don’t sell buffalo mozzarella, bit of a downside. Will definitely go to Sainsbury’s for future pizza ingredients (was going to start doing all my food shopping at Cadbury World after recently realising that it is closer to my house than Sainsbury’s, but am fairly certain that Cadbury World don’t stock buffalo mozzarella…)

Pizza peel: nearly destroyed the first pizza trying to get it on to the peel. Was convinced that if I did it in one swift movement it would send the pizza flying in to the wall, so I went for the gently edging it on approach, which was of course a disaster, and took a good ten minutes. Luckily getting it into the oven was a bit easier (and the first time in weeks I’ve used the oven without burning my hands- got five separate burns on my hand from this term!)

 

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 A pretty alright looking pizza toss- not sure if I caught it…

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 Tomato spreading- made about ten times too much so if anyone wants any leftover pizza sauce….

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The now much easier task of getting the pizza in the oven- had some nightmares doing this without the peel (see aforementioned hand burns)

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 Hanny got a bit floury

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 THE RESULTS!

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p.s. Got my semolina flour from Shipton Mill (http://www.shipton-mill.com/), definitely recommend it! They sell billions of types of organic flour online and it arrived a couple of days after I ordered it.

PIZZA PARTY

 

We invited a couple of friends over for a make-your-own-pizza party. We used an idea from The Fabulous Baker Brothers book to part-bake all the pizza bases before and then when people arrive they can top their own pizza and put them under the grill for a minute or two, and it worked like a dream. The dough tossing went a lot better than the first attempt, when I threw the dough too high and it got stuck to the light on the ceiling and I fell backwards into the sink. One of the guests was allergic to cheese so it was the first time she had ever eaten pizza, so we had fun thinking of ideas for cheeseless pizzas and also I got the honour of being the first person to ever serve her pizza- it was a very proud day.