• Video debut in my quest at becoming an Uuni Pro

    As you already know, I am the proud owner of an Uuni Pro and have been for a fair few months.  We have had a Summer of eating wood-fired pizzas cooked in our Uuni Pro shared with family and friends, as well as with the residents of Coln St Alwyns and the surrounding villages at the the Coln St Aldwyns fete in early September.

    As you will also know, I have an Instagram account called ‘bakebybuffy’ and being a proud owner of an Uuni Pro, I follow Ooni on Instagram.   While scrolling through my Instagram feed on the 14 September 2018, as I do every morning as a means of keeping awake after my alarm goes off, I came across the following on oonihq:

    ‘Attention all pizza lovers!  We’re searching for Pizza Taste Testers – these are paid roles combining working on and tasting new recipes, being the first to give our new products a whirl, and showcasing Ooni to the world through your social media profiles.  Sound like you?  Click the link in our bio to read the full job description’.

    Reading through the post, I felt that the job had my name written all over it.  Since reading the post and seeing the 927 likes and 232 comments, I have realised that many people feel the same way.  As they say though ‘you have to be in it to win it’ so over the last few weeks I have been working on my 1 minute video application, which Ooni want instead of a traditional CV application.

    Filled with excitement, my friend Colin from Design and Code and I came up with an idea for a video – my Uuni Pro and I on the road.  Initially we planned to take our Uuni Pro on the road down to Devon where Jo and I were spending the weekend, so that he could finally pick up the surfboard that he had painstakingly handcrafted out of poplar for his 50 Birthday in June.  We had offered to cook pizzas for all the surfers on the Saturday night, but the owner of Otter Surfboards had already made arrangements for Canteen to provide the evening meal.  We had also thought of making pizzas on the beach on Sunday as the sun went down, but none of this happened as the weather over the weekend was some of the worst weather we had for a while – torrential downpours.  Not deterred, we decided on plan B.   Not quite as exotic as Plan A but a plan nevertheless.

    Late on the Friday afternoon, we decided to stop overnight at our in-laws in Bath en route to Devon.  As we had imposed ourselves on them at a late stage, we offered to take our Uuni Pro with us and cook pizzas for the family.  I started the dough at home, trusting that it would prove on our 1.5 hour journey to Bath.  It did – by the time we got to Bath, the dough had proved well.  As soon as we arrived, Jo unloaded the Uuni Pro and set it up for lighting.  At the same time, I got on to making the tomato sauce and caramelised onions and prepping the toppings and the pizza bases.  The whole process took 3 hours (starting at 17.45 pm and finishing at 20.45 pm with us sitting down to eat a range of four pizzas), including a 1.5 hour trip from Coln St Aldwyns to Bath.  Not bad, even if I say so myself and certainly helped by the efficiency of my Uuni Pro – transporting, setting up and lighting and cooking (60 seconds).  I should possibly mention the most important part i.e. that we were shooting footage of all the stages as we went so that I could put together the 1 minute video required for the application.  Although there is always room for improvement, the evening resulted in us having enough video footage for my application.  We also had delicious pizzas for dinner – an added bonus.

    Since our pizza making evening in Bath we have been working on editing the footage into a 1 minute video fit for submission.  After quite a bit of tweaking, I finally submitted my application on Tuesday.  The closing date for applications is the 14 October so I will have to be patient for a few days.  I am crossing all appendages until then.  If successful, I will definitely share my video with you.

  • Coln St Aldwyns doughgirl

    The mid to end of the last week in August was a challenging one with a number of new experiences.  The time had finally come to prepare for the Coln St Aldwyns fete.  When we agreed to make 80 pizzas for the Coln St Aldwyns fete in our OoniPro Professional outdoor pizza oven some months ago it seemed like months away.  However, there I was mid week the week before last ensuring that my ingredients for the pizzas would be delivered as scheduled.  I should add at this point that although the original plan was just to make 80 pizzas for the fete, I was asked by the owner of Lynwood & Co to make the guess the weight of the cake, cake so in addition to checking ingredients mid week there I was making sugar craft coffee berries, leaves and letters, spelling Lynwood.

    Thursday was final shopping day for the remaining ingredients before prep day on Friday.  Friday had a slow start as I had scheduled in my pre-holiday manicure and pedicure and required waxing a while back so my first stop of the day was to Purely Divine in Fairford.  Although I find manicures and pedicures decidedly boring, I wasn’t worried about the time as our dog walker/sitter wasn’t arriving until 1 pm to pick up the hound and I didn’t want to start cooking until my dog and its fur were well away.  I was also waiting for my Blue Seal Turbofan Compact Convection Oven to arrive at 2pm to do my baking as I had a four layer cake to make.  Talk about Just in Time Philosophy.

    Still not perturbed as I had my list and knew what I needed to do when, all should have gone to plan had my underlying stomach issues not started to play up.  Bad eating and lack of hydration on Wednesday and Thursday (because of my shifts at the Coln Community Stores) had caused my stomach to niggle and because I had to be on my feet all day Friday, rather than resting, by 9 o’clock even pain killers could not keep the pain at bay.  I had no option but to forge ahead as I had both the Coln St Aldwyns Fete Committee and Lynwood & Co relying on me to deliver.

    With the help of Jo (who had to spend time helping me rather than doing all the other tasks he needed to do as part of the Fete Committee) by the time we went to bed all the pizza prep was done and the Lynwood & Co cake was baked.  All that remained was for me to roll out the pizza dough on Saturday morning and to ice and decorate the Lynwood & Co cake.  I should add that I also made 40 cookies on Friday for good measure, cookies which remained largely uneaten as there was no cake stall as I was lead to believe, just a coffee/tea and cake stall, which seemed to be inundated with cakes anyway.  I should possibly add that I also made an additional cake on Saturday morning (again for the imaginary cake stall), which although being displayed at the coffee/tea/cake stall late in the day went very quickly despite the mishap that happened to it shortly after we arrived at the fete on Saturday morning (more of this later).

    With all the preparations on Saturday morning and with Jo rushing between the fete site and home, trying to set up the stalls and take what we needed for the pizza stall, my sister, Gilly and I only arrived at the fete site for 12 pm.  The fete started at 12.30 pm.  With the other food provider (burgers and sausages in a roll) looking mighty fine and up and running when we arrived, we were really on the back foot.   The pizza oven had not even been lit as Jo had been too busy organising other things at the fete, albeit not to the satisfaction of some of the volunteers.

    My sister and I did the best we could to set up as quickly as possible, but if it had not been for Rob, the owner of Lynwood & Co, who started the pizza oven, we would have been even further behind than we were.  The only saving grace (although it didn’t feel like it at the time) was that the interest in the pizzas was very slow at the start so we had a bit of time to start things up.

    Although Rob saved the day by starting the pizza oven, in searching for the pellets to light the pizza oven, Rob turned my Orla Kiely cake tin upside down (thinking it had pellets in it) so the icing and chocolate shavings on top of my chocolate cake were left a little dishevelled as the cake was turned on its head – I managed to neaten it up enough to serve at the coffee/tea/cake stall.

    Despite a slow start, things soon picked up and we were preparing and baking pizzas almost solidly until the fete started to wind down.  Although the feedback on the pizzas was very positive (they were described as excellent) and we have been invited to offer them again at next year’s fete, there are a number of lessons to learn:

    • Don’t over-order ingredients as you will end up with a lot of wastage and unnecessary cost
    • Ensure that you have enough time to set things up so that your stall looks like it was in your mind’s eye
    • Ensure that you hide the containers for transporting goods to the fete under the gingham table cloth so that your stall looks professional (in our rush to set up, this was an oversight, which was unfortunately evidenced in the photos)
    • Don’t panic if sales start out slow – have confidence in your product (we reduced the price of our pizzas by £0.50 at the outset to get things started, which we then had to stick with for the rest of the day)
    • Ensure that you have prices on display (including something about an introductory offer or first 10 pizzas at reduced price) so that potential customers know what they are paying (especially when the burger stall has their prices well displayed) – customers are less likely to be tentative if they know what they are paying upfront
    • Have appropriate containers for serving what you are selling (serviettes may be okay for burgers and sausages in a roll, but not for pizzas) – thank goodness for Rob again for coming to the rescue with some containers (they certainly saved the day)

    Despite the many lessons to be learnt, all in all the day went very well (I couldn’t have done it without the help of Jo, Rob and Gilly).  We finished off with a quick clean up, a drink or two at friends up the road and a meal at the New Inn before doing our final packing for our holiday which was due to start at 3.15 am on Sunday morning – the time our alarm was set to ensure that we would get to Heathrow on time for our early morning flight to Geneva en route to Chamonix for five days of trail running and relaxation.

  • Best pizza dough and tomato sauce recipes

    Okay, so I am a bit hooked on my new Uuni Pro pizza oven.  I have now had two pizza evenings with my family.  My younger sister, Gillian, was so taken by the pizzas that she asked me to give her my pizza dough and tomato sauce recipes.  As I was writing them up for her, I thought I would share them with you too.  Happy pizza making!

    Pizza Dough (makes 3-4 decent sized, thin based pizzas)

    Ingredients:

    • 7 g sachet fast-action yeast
    • 300 ml tepid water
    • 500 g strong white flour (Italian 00 is best)
    • 2 tsp fine salt
    • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

    Method:

    • In a large bowl, mix the flour, salt and dried yeast with the olive oil and water and form the mixture into a ball.
    • Knead the dough on a floured work surface for 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes of kneading the dough should be springy.  Form the kneaded dough into a ball; flour the top; place in a bowl and cover with oiled clingfilm.  Leave to rise in a warm place.
    • After at least 30 minutes, but ideally when doubled in size, your dough is ready.
    • Divide the dough into 3-4 pieces and then roll them into round discs (pizza bases).
    • Top with toppings of your choice and cook in domestic oven/pizza oven as required.  It is best to place pizzas directly onto a hot baking sheet or pizza stone within a preheated oven.

    Source: Polpo

    Tomato sauce

    Ingredients:

    • 2 x 400 g tinned tomatoes (blended)
    • 2 tsp salt
    • 1 tsp sugar
    • Large pinch of coarsely ground black pepper
    • 1 crushed garlic clove
    • 3 tbsp olive oil
    • 2 sprigs of basil
    • 1 onion – quartered.

    Method:

    • Over a medium heat, cook the garlic in the olive oil.
    • Add the blended tomatoes when the garlic starts to sizzle.  Don’t allow the garlic to brown.
    • Add the quartered onion and basil.  Season (to taste)  with the sugar, salt and pepper.
    • Simmer for 20 minutes, until thickened.
    • Remove the onion and the basil and allow to cool to room temperature before using.

    Source: Uuni Pro