My husband very kindly bought me an Ooni pizza oven for our anniversary this year. He’s very clever as I am not sure who it benefits more. Nevertheless, I was ecstatic. I have seen my friends and family make pizza in their Ooni ovens and I yearned for one ever since.
My first pizza story…
So here we are, all giddy when the pizza oven arrived. We set it up almost immediately and decided to make some pizza when we had friends over. In my mind I thought it would be super simple, make the pizza, slide it into the oven and watch it cook for 60 seconds and enjoy. Boy was I wrong.
Firstly stretching pizza dough is hard! The gluten in the well risen dough makes it so hard to stretch as it simply bounces back. The chefs you see making pizza make it seem so easy. Just toss it around and slap on some ingredients right? Wrong. I pushed and pulled that dough backwards and forwards and I was left with a very uneven base. But I kept going.
Next I added my toppings. Whilst chatting to my friends I happily added lashings of tomato sauce, lots of vegetables including mushrooms and we were ready to cook. I handed the paddle over to my husband as he wanted to play too, and in went our very first pizza. And out it came, black. Oh.
Turns out pizza making is a more complicated than it looks. Luckily we managed to make the next pizzas edible, but after this incident I decided to dive into pizza research. Yes this is my life.
What I learnt…
Looking back, we had the oven on way too high. You have to preheat the oven on full and then turn it down before you put your pizza in.
Then I watched videos on how to stretch your pizza dough. Yes this does exist. And it does work. Although I have a lot of practice to do. I still find it so difficult to get it perfectly thin in the middle with a lovely thick crust around the edge.
And lastly, go easy on the toppings. The more toppings you add, the soggier your pizza becomes and therefore harder to cook and move around in the oven.
Now there are lots of other factors that make a great pizza, such as the type of flour you use (yes I bought unusually expensive 00 flour from Amazon), how long you prove the dough for, what vegetables to add, what extra accessories help you cook the pizza and so on and so on. And I have been practicing since.
I used Ooni’s classic pizza dough recipe for this pizza. Nice and easy although my dough took longer to rise but I think that’s because the weather was miserable and my house was cold.
Pizza Sauce: Next I made a pizza sauce using some simple ingredients. I added olive oil and fresh chopped garlic to a pan, let it simmer for a minute or two then added a tin of blended plum tomatoes. Next I added fresh chopped basil, salt and pepper, oregano and a pinch of sugar. I let it simmer for a few minutes until reduced and then let it cool.
Lastly, the toppings. I wanted to put a twist on a pizza I tried in ASK Italian that had breadcrumbs and honey on it. So I made a classic pepperoni pizza with mozzarella, then drizzled it with a spicy honey (honey infused with chilli flakes) and garlic breadcrumbs (I crushed up some garlic bruschetta snack breads from Aldi). It was delicious. Spicy, crunchy and a hint of sweetness.
I can safely say that I have done well to get to this point, but I have a long way to go and lots to learn. This won’t be the first and last time I post about this. So if you know any nerdy information on making pizza, please do send it my way. Meanwhile I will be reading about how water percentages in pizza dough can affect how much it rises. Rockstar.
Thanks so much for reading and let me know your favourite toppings on a pizza, I need ideas! Have a great evening 🙂
My name is Bhavisha Surti and I am a food photographer and stylist based in Milton Keynes. Please subscribe to my blog below and check out my website to see more of my work at www.jbimagery.co.uk. Thank you!