We’ve all been to a pizzeria at some point in our lives but few can say they made their pizzas in a traditional Italian pizza oven and in the South of Italy! Wood burning pizza ovens are mainly found in older stone built properties such as trulli or lamia, as part of the bricks and mortar. Habitually these ovens were inside homes and provided more than just a place to cook food but also the oven warmed the rooms in winter times. The inside of the oven would need to raise to temperatures internally of around 250°C to cook a pizza. In the summer, an outside temperature of 35°C would seem relatively cool by comparison.
Of course, the ovens are not exclusive for making pizzas; breads, focaccia, meats, fish can also be cooked in the embers of the oven, waste not want not! You need to be a pretty good judge of cooking times to know when to pull it out at the right time, however practice makes perfect.
Pizza cooking in the oven can be great fun and entertainment for the family; making the doughs, preparing the toppings is something everyone can get involved in. We offer an assisted Pizza Evening with our resident Chef Lucrezia and Fabia. Alternatively, follow the following instructions below to create your own Pizza Night in-house.
Instructions for Making Pizzas
Firstly, you will need to buy some pizza dough or make it yourselves. The best place to buy this is at a bakery. You need to ask for ‘Pasta per Pizza’ and one kilo will make about 6 pizzas. Please keep it in the fridge until you are ready to use it otherwise it will expand!
You will also need to buy some passata tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella cheese, these can be found in any supermarket, as well as any toppings you may wish to use such as salami, ham, other cheese, fresh tomatoes, mushrooms, basil, chilli etc.
Light a fire inside the pizza oven, at the front, by using branches and logs. You need to build this up over a period of 15-20 mins until it is burning bright and hot. Unless you have a temperature gauge or the oven is quite modern, you will need to hazard a guess as to whether the temperature is right or not!
After the fire has been burning for about an hour, topping up as necessary, you need to push the burning embers to the back of the oven using the curved tool (utensils are found with our pizza ovens). Leave the embers burning for another 20 minutes or so until the walls of the oven go white, you are now ready to cook! Clean the ash away from the front of the pizza oven by using the wire brush on the long handle, push the ash to the edges.
Using a marble table or similar, cover with flour and tear off a tennis ball sized piece of pasta dough. Roll this out using a rolling pin until it is thin, practice makes perfect. Moving the dough between your fingers will aerate it and make it rise better. Make sure the dough is well floured.
Add the passata, mozzarella pieces and toppings (not too thick otherwise the pizza will go soggy) and drizzle with olive oil. Using the pizza tool that looks like a flat shovel) push this under the pizza. This takes practice and short, jerking actions will help. You then need to slide the pizza off the shovel into the oven midway between the front and the embers, not too close or else it will burn. The pizza will take between 2 and 5 minutes to cook depending on the heat of the oven, it is best to occasionally turn the pizza round (not over unless a calzone) and to keep checking how it is cooking.
Remove from oven, cut using pizza wheel, eat and enjoy!