All about Pizzas

In March 2022, Mt Nimmel Hall acquired a pizza oven, so now it is with considerable enthusiasm that we sayWelcome to the art of using a wood fired pizza oven“.  We are starting a GALLERY OF PHOTOS. We welcome your contribution.

There are five aspects to consider:

The fire

You aren’t going to have to worry too much about the fire, the oven should be nice and hot by the time you arrive and start to cook.

But be ready to buy a drink for whoever did light the fire, because they started about 4 hours before cooking time in order for the oven to absorb heat and get to a temperature of over 400C.

Dough Recipes

1 hour quick dough

This will make 2 x 225g pizza bases.  If you want more, increase the flour and water, but don’t add any extra yeast.
Ingredients
  • 150ml warm water
  • 7g (1 packet) active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 300g of 00 (high protein) or all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tbs extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing

Combine water, yeast, and sugar in a bowl; let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Add flour, salt, and oil, and stir until a ragged dough forms.
Transfer to a lightly floured work surface.
Knead with floured hands until dough is smooth, elastic, and tacky but no longer sticky, about 5 minutes.
Transfer to a bowl brushed with oil, turning dough to evenly coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in volume, 30 to 45 minutes.

Divide it into balls either at home or at the hall.

24 hour mouth-watering, soft inside, crunchy outside, pizza dough

This recipe will make about 6 x 200g pizza bases. It is complex, but worth the effort. Read it well before trying to make it ;o)

Start making the dough 24 hours prior to using it. 

Ingredients

  • 700g flour (best is 00 flour which has a higher protein content). Available in Coles or Woolies.
  • 200ml water
  • 5g honey (a teaspoon)
  • 5g dried yeast
  • Salt
  • Bit of olive oil

1: Make the Poolish

Mix the water, honey and yeast together well, then add 200g flour. This is called the Poolish, a spongy dough … which it will become.

Let it sit for 15 minutes and leave to stand for 1 hour at room temperature.

Place the Poolish in a sealed container in the fridge. Do not leave in the fridge more than 24 hours, as it may turn a bit acidic. Also,  make sure your container is big enough to allow room for it to double in size, otherwise you can finish up with a mess to clean up in your fridge.  Trust us on this.

Bowl containing bubbly dough

2. Make the Dough
Take the Poolish out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature (1 hour). 

Put the Poolish into large mixing bowl and add 300g flour.  Stir 20g of salt into 300ml water then slowly add to the mix, a bit at a time, kneading the dough as you go. As you’re kneading, add 200g more flour and keep kneading until water fully integrated (this can take 10 – 15 minutes).

Then pour it out of the mixing bowl on to a flat floured surface. Now you can work better with 2 hands. Fold the mix onto itself then stretch it out again and again – until well mixed (good to watch video below). This is a bit different to making bread where you knead with your hands and fists.

Once it is nice and smooth, lightly olive oil the surface and let it rest for 15 minutes. Now make a nice round ball, pulling the sides down underneath so the outside of the ball stretches tight.  Lightly olive oil it again, cover and let it rest for 1 hour, it will expand and get light and spongy.

Ball of dough on a table

3. Shape the dough
Its handy to use a bench scraper to lift the dough, then cut it into 200g (or bigger if you like) chunks, make them into balls and again, let them rest for 1 hour.  Cover with cling film. You can put them into a muffin tray as it is then easy to manage them (or you can put them on a baking tray, but keep them apart). They will expand again and may join up a bit but they are easy to separate.

Balls of dough, sprinkled with flour, on a metal tray

4. Bring to Mt Nimmel Hall

You’re now all ready to bring along to the Hall. You can shape each of your pizza bases once at the hall. Don’t be tempted to use a rolling pin!  Stretch them with your hands leaving a thicker edge.  Use plenty of flour underneath to stop it sticking to the table and then enable it to be slid into the oven.

This video is good but it goes on a bit. It jumps in and starts at 2:55.

Sauce

You can go for the traditional tomato based sauce  (below) or if you want something yummy, either buy or make some pesto and use that on the base.

Ingredients

  •     800g can of whole tomatoes
  •     Dessert spoon of salt
  •     4 or 5 leaves of chopped basil.
  •     1 teaspoon of olive oil

Steps

  •     Pour the can of tomatoes into mixing bowl and add the salt.
  •     Add in the chopped basil.
  •     Add the olive oil.
  •     Mush up the tomatoes through your fingers.
Tomato sauce on a wooden spoon above a bowl

Toppings

Some suggested toppings:  Keep in mind that less is more, don’t be tempted to overload your pizza, it will lead to tears and heartache.
  • Onions
  • Olives
  • Roasted eggplant (if you want, you can put your sliced eggplant in the oven on a tray, it will cook in 10 minutes)
  • Capsicum
  • Mushrooms
  • Sun dried tomatoes
  • Mozzarella cheese (the packets of pizza cheese are good too)
  • Chilli seeds
  • Then there’s all sorts of meats that go well on a pizza, eg., pepperoni, ham, bacon, prosciutto, Italian sausage, etc.   
  • Other things…
You’ve eaten pizza before, you know to slice everything nice and thin, right?

Vasious shaped bowls containging vegetables and other toppings for pizza

Cooking

Be sure that you haven’t overloaded your pizza and that you have floured the bottom well so that it will slide into the oven and cook directly on the oven floor, which will be 350C – 400C.

Cooking is really quick!  Your pizza should be ready in just a few minutes or so.  Every once in a while it needs to be rotated so that it cooks evenly, as the side closest to the fire will cook the fastest.
Man holding a plate with a pizza on it