A wood-fired pizza with a soft base and topped with a rich tomato sauce and toppings of your choice.
On our recent holiday to Portugal, we discovered the villa had a woodfired oven in the garden. I know that most people’s view of holidaying in a villa all to yourselves is basking uninterrupted in the glorious sunshine with book in hand but I’m not much of a sun seeker. Don’t get me wrong, I love the sunshine but I don’t want to sit in it for long. I like a shady spot and I also like to do, you know like cooking, exploring, playing and eating. So finding the outside oven was a thrill and a great distraction.
I’ve never cooked in one before which maybe evident from our photos but after watching various videos online it all seemed perfectly do-able. So we made our dough, had a snooze while it proved and then set to making our toppings. Meanwhile we lit the wood oven, ensured it was super hot (husband shinged the front of his hair so we knew it was at optimum heat), then put our pizzas in, and just watched them cook.
Cooking at fierce temperatures in 30°C Portugese heat wasn’t entirely comfortable but was great fun. We had the pool so we could run and cool our feet then run back to check on the pizzas. Crazy but something I will always remember and they tasted delicious. We did a second batch a few days later and these looked much better. Tasted the same but looked better.
Update: Husband’s hair is growing back nicely, thank you.
And for dessert then I couldn’t think anything better and as easy as my Affogato recipe which is just ice cream with a coffee poured over. So so simple.
Wood-Fired Pizza (serves 4)
2 packets of dry yeast
1 ½ cups of warm water
¼ cup olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups plain flour
4 tablespoons olive oil with 1 clove crush garlic
1 jar pasta sauce (thick type not runny)
2 balls mozzarella, ripped into pieces
Black olives Selection of sliced meats, such as chorizo, pepperoni – whichever you like
In a small bowl, mix the packet yeast with the warm water, allow to react and start to become slightly foamy. It won’t go mega frothy. Add the oil and salt. Mix together.
In a large bowl add the flour then pour in the yeast mix and start stirring. Once it starts to come together then do in with floured hands and bring to a ball. Cover with cling film or a cloth and place in a warm place for about 45 minutes but 1 hour 30 minutes if you’ve fallen asleep like I did will do no harm.
Preheat your oven to either 220°C/Gas Mark 7 or 430°F or if a woodfired oven to seriously hot. So hot you can’t put your hand in for more than a few seconds. That hot. Which is about 350 degrees/650 Fahrenheit Turn out on to a floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes until smooth then place back in the same bowl and allow to rest for about 15 minutes.
You can use this time to prep the toppings. Turn back out again on to a floured surface and cut into 4 pieces. Push each piece into a small circle allowing a nice big crust, then move around with your fingertips or knuckles as I did because my nails were too sharp, and keep moving around in a big circle so it stretches out into a larger circle.
Set down on a well-floured surface ready for the topping. Smear a small amount of the garlic oil over the base and then a spoonful of the tomato sauce. Go easy is the best way so the final pizza isn’t too soggy. Add the topping of your choice and place in the preheated oven for about 8-10 minutes – regular oven and 5-8 minutes for a woodfired oven but do keep checking for each method.