Pizza, flatbread, and cobbler: All deliciously baked in wood fired oven

By on June 18, 2015


There’s nothing more delicious than fresh pizza from your own wood-fired backyard oven. But the ovens are also ideal for other savoury offerings, such as savoury flatbread and sweet cobblers.

Here are some recipes to try.

 

CLASSIC PIZZA DOUGH
This recipe, developed in Europe, calls for Type 00 flour, which is a European designation indicating very finely milled flour. It’s difficult to find in North America, but experts suggest the best substitute is bread flour or, in a pinch, all-purpose flour. You may have to increase the amount of water slightly.

300 ml (1 1/4 cups) warm water
10 ml (2 tsp) dry yeast (or 20 ml/4 tsp fresh yeast)
15 ml (1 tbsp) olive oil
500 ml (2 cups) Type 00 flour or substitute
10 ml (2 tsp) salt

To get water to right temperature, mix 175 ml (3/4 cup) of cold tap water with 50 ml (1/4 cup) boiled water. That will bring the temperature to around 36 C (96 F). Be careful not to go too warm or hot as that will kill yeast. Combine warm water with yeast and oil.

In a separate bowl, sift flour with salt.

If using a kitchen machine to knead, turn on second-lowest setting and gradually add water. Once they’re mixed, time 4 minutes on the same setting. If hand-kneading, knead for about 10 minutes until dough is stretchy and velvety.

Cover and set aside for 20 minutes, then hand-knead for about another minute.

Cut dough into 5 equal balls. Flatten slightly to make it easier to stretch later. Cover with plastic wrap and a kitchen towel and leave to proof for 2 hours. (If you want to do cold proofing — highly recommended — use a bit less yeast and leave proofing in a fridge for 24 to 48 hours. Cold proofing brings great, deep flavour to dough as it allows the yeast to work with the sugars in the flour longer.)

Once proofed, the dough can stretched and dressed with your toppings of choice.

Makes 5 pizzas.

Source: uuni.net (Uuni is a British-based company that manufactures portable wood-fired pizza ovens).

 

CLASSIC PIZZA SAUCE
This European recipe calls for “passata,” an uncooked puree of ripe tomatoes that have been crushed and strained of seeds and skins. It is available at Italian grocery stores or you can make your own.

1 clove garlic
15 ml (1 tbsp) olive oil
500 ml (2 cups) passata
2 ml (1/2 tsp) salt
7 ml (1 1/2 tsp) sugar
Black pepper
Handful chopped basil

Chop garlic. In a pan, heat oil, then fry garlic over medium-high heat. Be careful it doesn’t brown. Add passata, salt, sugar, pepper and basil. Simmer on low heat for 20 minutes.

Makes 500 ml (2 cups).

Source: uuni.net (Uuni is a British-based company that manufactures portable wood-fired pizza ovens).

 

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SESAME SEED-CHILI FLATBREAD
This recipe, with Syrian roots, calls for chili flakes and sesame seeds, but the topping can be varied based on your preferences. Parmesan cheese gives a wonderful salty punch and fennel seed and sea salt are tasty. Serve with your choice of dips.

This can be made ahead.

10 ml (2 tsp) yeast
625 ml (2 1/2 cups) warm water
1.5 l (6 cups) all-purpose flour
15 ml (1 tbsp) salt
30 ml (2 tbsp) olive oil
25 ml (5 tsp) sesame seeds
20 ml (4 tsp) chili flakes

In a large mixing bowl, combine yeast and water to activate yeast. After 10 to 15 minutes, add 625 ml (2 1/2 cups) of the flour. Mix dough until flour is incorporated, then add remaining flour and salt. Continue to mix dough until flour has been absorbed. Let dough rest for 10 minutes.

Place dough on a floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Return dough to bowl, cover with a damp cloth and let rise until doubled, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Punch down dough and return to a lightly floured surface. Divide dough in half, then divide those halves in half and continue until you have 16 equal pieces.

Roll out dough as thin as you can into a “free-form” round. Brush dough with olive oil and sprinkle about 0.5 to 1 ml (1/8 to 1/4 tsp) of each of the sesame seeds and chili flakes over top. Place in hot pizza oven and bake until golden brown and crisp, about 1 minute.

Makes 16 flatbreads.

Source: Chef Bart Hosmer for Forno Bravo, a pizza oven manufacturer based in Salinas, California

 

STRAWBERRY AND RHUBARB COBBLER
Baking in a pizza oven usually requires temperatures comparable to conventional ovens. But the wood fire gives new life to this seasonal dessert.

Adding cornstarch to fruit mixture will thicken the fruit juices. You can substitute flour for the cornstarch if desired; just ensure the cooking time is more than 30 minutes to allow flour to “cook” though so you do not have a grainy finish.

Filling
750 ml (3 cups) strawberries, sliced into quarters
500 ml (2 cups) rhubarb, peeled, sliced into 2.5-cm (1-inch) blocks
30 ml (2 tbsp) cornstarch
15 to 30 ml (1 to 2 tbsp) brown sugar
5 ml (1 tsp) vanilla extract
1 lime, juice and zest

Dough
500 ml (2 cups) all-purpose flour
30 ml (2 tbsp) sugar
15 ml (1 tbsp) baking powder
5 ml (1 tsp) salt
50 ml (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, chilled
375 ml (1 1/2 cups) heavy cream

Filling: In a mixing bowl, combine filling ingredients and toss gently so fruit is evenly coated with cornstarch and sugar is mixed throughout. Place in a buttered cast-iron dish or similar high-heat baking dish.

Dough: In a bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut butter into small pieces and add to bowl. Using your hands or a fork, cut in butter until it is broken up to smaller pea-size pieces. Add cream and stir until ingredients are combined. The batter will be sticky and small lumps are OK.

Spread dough evenly over top of fruit mixture and place in pizza oven. Bake at about 180 C (350 F) for 35 to 40 minutes or until cobbler dough is golden brown and fruit juices are bubbling.

Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Source: Chef Bart Hosmer for Forno Bravo, a pizza oven manufacturer based in Salinas, California

 

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ANDOUILLE SAUSAGE AND PESTO PIZZA
Andouille sausage originated in France and was brought to North America by German immigrants who settled in Louisiana. This smoked pork sausage is a staple of Creole cooking and makes a great topping for pizza.

1 pizza dough
30 ml (2 tbsp) basil pesto (recipe follows)
4 to 5 slices Gruyere cheese
125 ml (1/2 cup) sliced andouille sausage
50 ml (1/4 cup) arugula
Splash each extra-virgin olive oil and lemon juice

After forming pizza dough, spread pesto evenly on dough base and top with Gruyere. Scatter sausage over top, place dough in pizza oven and bake until crust is golden brown and Gruyere lightly caramelized, about 90 seconds, depending on oven heat. Remove pizza from oven and top with arugula tossed with olive oil and lemon juice.

Makes 1 pizza.

 

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BASIL PESTO

1 to 2 cloves garlic
Salt, to taste
50 ml (1/4 cup) pine nuts, toasted
1 bunch basil (about 250 ml/1 cup)
50 ml (1/4 cup) Parmesan cheese
50 ml (1/4 cup) extra-virgin olive oil

Pound garlic and salt, using a mortar and pestle, into a paste. Add toasted pine nuts and continue to pound. Once mixture is a coarse paste, place mixture in a small mixing bowl.

Chop basil coarsely and add to mortar. Pound leaves to a paste. Return pounded pine nut mixture to basil, add Parmesan and continue to pound while adding olive oil. Adjust seasoning as necessary.

Source: Chef Bart Hosmer for Forno Bravo, a pizza oven manufacturer based in Salinas, California

All photos courtesy of Shutterstock