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Pizza in a wood fired oven

My adventure with pizza is not really new at all. 20 years ago I remember my mother trying to make pizza at home at my request. It was a dough bought from the bakery, on top of which we were laying some yellow cheese and ham. Everything was baked in the oven and we were adding a lot of ketchup on top to give it a taste. Oh... what a fake pizza we were eating back then ....
Later, when I had my own bread machine I was so excited to revisit the pizza recipe. I learned in the meantime that for pizza not every cheese is good, and the must have ingredient was mozzarella. Then, for a good pizza you need high temperatures, so I put my oven at the maximum it could manage, meaning 275ºC .With this improvements, my pizza started to have a taste and it could have been called easily an OK homemade home pizza.
Next improvement came with the pizza stone that I was using for bread baking. I wanted a pizza that could be hold in your hands with a sturdy dough. Baking the pizza in a tray will never lead you to such strong dough. The pizza stone fulfilled my dream. There was however another problem.... the whole mess that the flour was doing to my oven and to my kitchen when sliding it to the hot stone. Due to all these issues, pizza was not a regular recipe done in my house.

BUT, everything changed last year when I had my wood fired oven. With the same old dough recipe and almost the same set of ingredients, a pizza baked in this oven is incomparable to any bake I tried in a conventional oven.
First of all, the pizza can go in the wood fired oven at a very high temperature. I usually bake my pizza when the oven is at 400-500ºC. No way you could reach this high temperature with a conventional oven. With this temperature, it takes less then 2 minutes to have 2 pizzas baked in the same time. As I normally bake 4 pizzas, the next set probably takes 5 minutes as the temperature goes down a bit.
And when my 4 pizzas are ready, also my oven gets the right temperature to bake the loaves of bread.
This is how I arrived to make pizza every week, together with my weekly bread.
The big secret of this pizza is the taste. Compared to the same pizza baked 15 minutes in a conventional oven at the highest possible temperature, the one baked in the wood fired oven for less than 2 minutes has a smokey flavor that changes the whole thing. The bread baked in a wood fire oven is definitely more tasty than the conventional one but the pizza is having a huge difference. That's the reason why, we simply cannot stop making pizza every week together with the bread.
It is by far the best pizza I have ever eat in any restaurant so far, also because you can choose what toppings to add and how much of each.

I reached perfection in terms of pizza and I am so happy that after all the adventure it took to arrive to it, I can proudly call it a success.

The toppings, I usually change them based on what I have at hand, but there are some that needs to be there: mozzarella, concentrated tomato sauce and ham.
As for the dough, I use the same quick recipe. I wonder if changing the recipe to a more fancy one, with sourdough for example, this would have an impact in taste. Is there a better best? That is something to try in the future.

Ingredients (for 4 big pizzas):

Dough:
  • 900g all purpose flour
  • 500ml water
  • 25g fresh yeast
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
Toppings:
  • 280g concentrated tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 75ml olive oil
  • salt
  • 800g mozarella (sliced)
  • 200g ham (sliced in small squares)
  • 1 red onion (julien)
  • 250g fresh mushrooms (sliced)
  • 1 red bell pepper (julien)
  • 200g olives (sliced in 4)
  • + semolina (to avoid sticking)

Directions:
  1. Combine all ingredients of the dough and mix them with a standing mixer.
  2. Let the dough to raise in the mixing bowl for 60-90 minutes (depending on the room temperature) and cover it with a linen towel.
  3. In the meantime, prepare the toppings.
  4. First the sauce: mix the tomato sauce with olive oil, oregano, ground pepper and salt.
  5. Slice all other ingredients.
  6. When the dough has doubled its size (60-90 minutes), remove it from the bowl and divide it in 4. Make 4 boules and stretch each of them in flat disks of 30cm as diameter.
  7. Lay the pizza dough on wooden pizza peels that were initially sprinkled with semolina flour to avoid sticking.
  8. Take 2 full tablespoon of sauce and spread it on top of each pizza dough.
  9. Add mozzarella, ham and the rest of ingredients.
  10. Slice the dough in a very hot wood fired oven, directly on the oven bottom stone. The oven should be prepared in advance: the remaining burning wood is dragged on the side and the bottom of the oven is quickly cleaned with a wet towel to remove the remaining ash.
  11. Bake for 2 minutes in an extremely hot oven (400-500ºC) and remove them immediately from the oven. Continue with the bake of the remaining pizzas. My oven has a capacity of 2 pizzas in the same time so I only charge it twice. Second time, as the temperature drops, the bake will take a bit more time. 
  12. Serve it with fresh basil and spicy oil.


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