Monday 13 July 2009

On the Trail of the Smokey Grail

This is one of the best pizzas I've ever eaten. In a restaurant in a small town in Italy called Isolabona, that only opened at night to produce a seemingly endless stream of pizzas from it's huge wood fired oven.
Places selling pizza near me are legion, but none are very good. So occasionally, at a loose end, I'll join the throng on the growing, quasi religious quest to reproduce that wood fired lushness at home. Last weeks effort wasn't at all bad, so I had another go tonight...

This is what I did:

Combined 75g of spelt flour with 175g of strong plain flour. All plain's fine. Dried yeast, about a third of the pack. A teaspoon of salt. Stirred it all together then added A LOT OF LUKEWARM WATER, over 300 ml, so that it was pretty liquid, and stirred for a minute. This technique seems to make the dough more liable to bubble and blister in a wood fired oven sort of way. No idea why.

Then gradually added more plain flour and kept stirring. Eventually using my hand to push down.

Once the dough was nice and firm, popped it onto a floured surface and kneaded until it was elastic. I find the Doves organic flour is much less kneady than others... about 5 minutes does.

Back in a bowl, covered with cling film and left for 2 hours.

You can stick whatever you like on a pizza, experimenting is surely part of the fun? This is what I used.... mainly because it was in the fridge, cupboard or garden.

The Spanish smoked paprika went in my tomato sauce- to impersonate the wood smoke aromas! The oven went on it's highest setting with a baking tray inside getting hot too.
This stage in the process is an excellent time to pop out for wine. Might I suggest....

This is not a sophisticated wine. It's rustic but tasty, of elderberries I'd say, and even nicer if you have a glass and leave the rest in the bottle for a day. Most important of all, it's £3.99 at M&S. Perfect for things like pizza which murder good wine.

After two hours rising, the dough was knocked back to a ball shape, divided into 4 and rolled out. They need to be very thin, so should fit onto something you can use to 'flick' them onto the very hot baking tray. Like the paddles in proper pizza places. I use Ikea chopping boards. Odd shape but it works.

Provided they're thin enough these pizzas take about 5 minutes to cook... and they came out, well, not bad at all... but don't take my word for it, join the quest!

Pizzeria Del Vecchio Forno
Via Roma, 53
18035 Isolabona
0184 208187

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