• Autumnal pizzas

    Scrolling through my Instagram account a couple or so weeks back I came across an OoniHQ post about an autumnal pizza using spiced pumpkin puree instead of tomato sauce, which was topped with zucchini, pine nuts and fresh chilli.

    Scrolling down even further I came across another autumnal pizza topped with butternut squash, chilli, mascarpone, mozzarella and basil.

    Inspired and intrigued by these more unconventional toppings and with a couple of butternut squashes in my fridge from our neighbour who has a very productive vegetable garden, I decided that I would give both of the pizzas a go.

    Not put off by the autumnal weather and the dark (it only added to the theme), my husband, Jo, fired up our UuniPro.  Okay, he didn’t fire up our UuniPro immediately as I had quite a few preparations to do (if you own an UuniPro, you will know that it doesn’t take very long to get to the required temperature) but he did when he knew that I was nearly ready for the pizzas to be cooked.

    When I say that I had a few preparations, I mean the making of the pizza dough and in this case, the making of the pumpkin puree.  If I can say so myself (although they do say that pride comes before a fall), I have got my tried and tested pizza dough down to a fine art.  In the early days, I used to knead the dough by hand but one day when I was pressed for time I decided to use my trusty Kenwood instead.  Releasing 10 minutes of my time to do other preparations, the dough was kneaded just as well with my Kenwood dough hook than by hand.  That being said, I always finish the dough off with a bit of hand kneading before proving, just to ensure that the dough is beautifully smooth and elastic.

    The pumpkin puree was made by simply roasting and pureeing the pumpkin and then adding olive oil, garlic and seasoning.  Once the dough was proven, divided and shaped, the only thing left to do was to top both varieties of the pizza with the pumpkin puree, add the respective toppings and bake them in my UuniPro.  I should possibly mention that Ooni’s recipe for one of the pizzas was for a vegan pizza i.e. pumpkin puree, courgette and chilli.  I added a bit of mozzarella as I am a bit of a cheese fiend.  I am sure that it was not necessary, but I personally loved the addition of a bit of melted mozarella.

    The result of my husband and my toil was two vibrant and delicious varieties of pizza.  Warming to look at and warming to eat (aided of course by the hint of chilli on both) – perfect for an autumnal evening.

    Inspired by my autumnal pizza experimentation, I used the remaining two portions of pizza dough the following night to make another non-tomato based pizza.  This time, I topped my pizza dough with a mound of mushrooms, sauteed in olive oil and garlic.  To this, I added a generous sprinkle of freshly ground pepper, mascarpone and Parmesan before baking.  With the final addition of fresh parsley before serving, Jo and I tucked into another delicious pizza.  I have to say that this concoction was a treat for the taste buds and definitely one to be repeated.

    Having bought our UuniPro this year, I have definitely been stretching myself (and a lot of pizza dough) when it comes to pizza toppings.  With the ideas on Ooni’s Instagram and Facebook pages, as well as their website, I don’t think I will ever be short of ideas.

  • 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