Are You Planning to Build a DIY Pizza Oven?
I recall that not so many years ago if you wanted a wood fired pizza oven you had to know someone who knew someone who knew an Italian girl whose elderly grandfather could build it for you.
Now, pizza ovens are everywhere! From the massive commercial wood fired pizza ovens in restaurants, to the homely looking outdoor kitchen style pizza oven, to the smaller DIY variety that you can order over the Internet and have delivered to your door.
If you can’t afford one, don’t despair – you can hire one! And if you don’t have room for one because you already have a giant BBQ , then you can do the next best thing – buy a ceramic pizza tile and cook pizzas in your BBQ!
1. They can take up a lot of room.
2. You’ll probably hardly ever use it.
3. They’re utterly fabulous so ignore 1 & 2 and buy one anyway.
I haven’t taken the plunge yet. Instead, I visualize various pizza ovens in various positions in my small outdoor area and think about all the things I COULD cook in it. And I continue, for now, using my ceramic pizza tile in the BBQ.
I’ve designed my own outdoor kitchen a million times over and only one thing stops me from having it built – the logic that my wonderful outdoor kitchen would be only about 5 metres away from my indoor kitchen! There’s something so ridiculous about that I can’t bring myself to do it.
That, and my ‘alfresco’ area is about the size of the planter box in the photo below!
If you can’t afford or don’t have room for a lovely outdoor pizza oven, try using a ceramic pizza stone on your barbecue. Works for me! They’re available through Amazon and usually at stores where barbecues are sold.
Speaking of being a bit creative when you don’t have something – back in my wilder days I recall a friend and I being invited to a barbecue by a couple of fellows we met at a party. They’d just arrived from interstate. Their barbecue – an electric fry pan in the back yard at the end of a very long extension cord!
All Photos Credit : David Owen , Flickr Commercial use Allowed
You can make more than Pizza in your wood fired oven. You can roast meat and vegetables, make bread, cook casseroles, and just about anything you can make in an electric or gas oven. Over and above the food, there’s something very attractive and warming about being able to gather around an outdoor oven with friends or family and offer them something special – a home cooked meal. It’s the next best thing to gathering around a camp fire!
I’m pretty sure my spoilt fluffy white pooches would mistake this one for a dog kennel – and not go anywhere near it!
* fresh tomato & spinach, mushrooms, olives & feta cheese
* roast chicken, shallots, black pepper, sour cream, feta cheese
* cheese & tomato base, olives, anchovies and chili
* pepperoni, mushroom, chili, olives, anchovies
* spinach, a sharp spicy deli meat, blue cheese
Now don’t expect me to go into quantities – you know, a cup of this etc – because I’m used to making dough by large quantities and I’ve learnt to judge by the look and feel of dough, rather than measuring things out. You can do that to and I will try to mention quantities that are suitable for making just a couple of pizza bases.
Pizza dough is very simple. You’ll need:
Here’s how to put it all together:
1. Activate the yeast – put a cup or two of luke warm water into a small bowl. Add a teaspoon of salt and one of sugar; and a tablespoon of olive oil. For faster activation, cover your bowl with glad wrap, leaving just a small corner open. After about 10 minutes, you should see the yeast frothing on the surface. That means it worked. If it didn’t, perhaps your water was too cool or too hot – too cool won’t activate the yeast and too hot will kill it.
2. Put your flour into a larger bowl, make a well in the centre and poor in your yeast mixture. Mix into a stiff dough, adding a little more flour if you need to. Knead it well but don’t overdo it or you’ll make the dough tough. You’ll get a feel for this after a while – it’s just a matter of practice.
3. Leave the dough ball in the bowl and rub a little olive oil over the top of it. Cover it with a tea towel and let it rise in a warm place.
4. When it has risen, punch it down. Separate it into sections – 1 for each pizza base you want to make. Roll these sections into round shapes. I’ll try to find you a demo of this! Leave them to rise.
5. Roll your dough balls out to the size you need for your pizza tray. I like to prick some holes in the pastry – professional pizza makers do this using a “roller docker”. (I’ll see if I can find one of those on Amazon for you)
Now you’re good to go. Lay the dough over your tray and start making your pizza.
You can also freeze pizza dough – so if you inadvertantly ended up with 6 dough balls but you only want to make 1 pizza, wrap the extra balls in glad wrap and freeze them for next time.
Here’s the Roller Docker I Promised You!
A roller docker aerates the dough, helping it to cook nicely and preventing air bubbles from forming in your pizza dough and pushing all your toppings off to the side. If you want to be a pro pizza maker at home, a roller docker will help you turn out great looking pizzas.
My last home had very little room for a pizza oven and at first, it was just me in my home. As much as I wanted one, I knew it would have been a waste. A lot has changed since then – I’ve moved interstate and onto a very large suburban block. I have an ‘other half’ (who I’m hoping can build a pizza oven…) and enough in-laws to keep a pizza oven busy.
A pizza oven is now a reallistic possibility. Once I decide exactly where to put it and what to do with the area surrounding it, it’ll be time to get to work on it. When that happens I’ll take some ‘under construction’ shots as we build the pizza oven and upload them. It’s so close I can smell the pizza!
Haha! Found some great demonstrations on U-Tube. The first shows how to shape the balls after your dough has risen. The second shows how to roll the base.
There’s quite a knack to these two things but you don’t need to be too pendantic about it when you’re making pizzas at home. It’s the final taste that counts!