When I told my children we would be having a pizza oven for the garden delivered, we had several air punches and happy dances. My family LOVE pizza and our takeaway of choice would always be a Dominos. However, for around £30 this would be a once monthly treat, as there is no way I could justify that amount of hard earned dollar for a couple of pieces of dough with some cheese and some sparse toppings ! I have made my own several times, which are ok, but not a patch on the real McCoy and the Supermarket frozen malarkey is not much cop either !
I had previously thought about picking up a Pizza oven in the discount stores as they have been all the range lately, but I have heard the ovens are quite small and they are a bit flimsy, so I put that idea to bed, as I hate buying things that are fiddly and be left to either go rusty or hide in the back of a cupboard. One thing I have learnt as I have got older is pay a decent price for a decent product, otherwise it is generally a pile of pants !
Callow Retail sent me A large Wood fired Pizza Oven to review and they will have to prize this from my fingers to get it back as it is 50 shades of amazing. We have had it for 3 weeks, have had three adult pizza parties and several tantrums from the kids as they want to use it every night !. Fortunately, I am letting them eat it quite frequently as I have sneakily swapped the white flour base for a wholemeal base and I blend several vegetables up into the sauce, so they are happily eating their perfect food and I am secretly feeding them goodness ( Ha HA !!)
The delivery was coordinated perfectly and I was surprised at the size of the box, but everything was packaged and protected perfectly. The Box is a whopping 116 KGS, so you may need two pairs of hands to move it around before you start to erect it.
The instructions were fool proof and Stewart had it up and ready to rock and roll in under an hour. It will take two people to put together, but there was no hair pulling moments and definitely no swearing under his breath.
We had great support on the other end of the phone and we were given some helpful instructions. We followed all the advice, such as let the oven have a couple of hot blasts before you start cooking pizza and only use hardwood.
Hardwood is so easy to pick up, as it is used in wood burners and often stocked in Supermarkets and garages. It is kiln dried so it burns really easily and costs less that a fiver for a large bag, we would use around half a bag for several pizza, so it is very economical.
Actually making the pizza is a doddle ( Cross my heart !) and 100% cheaper than any takeaway. I bought all my ingredients from Lidl and I could easily have a party for 10 people for less than £20. A bag of strong bread flour is only 76p and I could get 8 pizza out of that. As I mentioned earlier, you could easily make the pizza healthier by using a wholemeal flour and this is equally economical.
The base recipe consists of four ingredients being Strong flour, yeast, salt and water. The following measurements will make 5 medium thin pizza bases.
500g Strong Flour
1 tsp Salt
5g dry yeast
325ml Warm water.
Dissolve the yeast in the warm water, them mix with the flour and salt. I always mix with my hands as it is easier, but mix it all into a big ball, which will be sticky and then turn it out onto a well floured surface. Knead and stretch the dough for about five minutes and then sit it onto some semolina, cover with a damp cloth and place in a warm place to prove for a couple of hours. If you don’t have time to play with, mix the yeast with hot water, so that the dough rises quicker. I find the best place to leave the dough is a conservatory or warm airing cupboard.
When it has proven , tear a handful off the dough, again putting it on a floured surface and roll it out. It does not have to be a certain shape, it is Artisan which basically means anything goes ! Put a good spoonful of Passata on the dough and spread all over. Next drizzle some olive oil over the base, add a sprinkle of salt and then a good coating of parmesan cheese. Your now ready for your toppings, however, only use Cured or cooked meats, as the pizza will cook in less than a minute and this will not be enough time for the raw meat to cook. Don’t be too generous with the toppins as you will be working with a very thin base.
Also when you are comfortable with the pizza’s, try different sauces. I made the basic tomato passata mixed with finely sliced garlic, passata mixed with BBQ sauce and also a tomato paste with some chilli flakes and chilli sauce.
So the next move will be to move the pizza onto the paddle for the oven, and the easiest way ( trial and error experience talking !) is to coat the paddle with the semolina, lift the one side of the pizza up and slide the paddle under the pizza in a quick movement.
The fab thing about this oven is that it heats up really quickly, less than 10 minutes actually and I have found that if the temperature is over 200* then the pizza cooks in around 40 seconds. Now this is actually quicker than cooking a pasta dish !. We also cooked a leg of lamb in the oven which turned out beautiful. We finished cooking the pizza and let the oven die down, we seasoned the lamb and wrapped in tin foil, and let it cook slowly for a couple of hours. It was beautiful and I had perfectly cooked meat ready for the following day ( with left overs used for Lamb Jalfrezi pizza ).
Fire up your oven and when the temperature has hit over 200*, start feeding the tribes ! This oven is big enough to cook four pizza at a time, which is great for having friends over, and due to the unfortunate events of late, more and more people are choosing to socialise at home, so what a better way to entertain.
The smokiness from the wood gives the pizza a real authentic Italian taste and you can be as extravagant or plain as you like with the toppings. When you put the pizza in the oven to cook, you will need to tilt the paddle and just make a quick flip action, and the pizza will slide onto the brick, this why it is important to use semolina, as it will stop the pizza sticking.
I am a huge pusher of getting Children helping in the kitchen and learn to enjoy cooking, as the convenience and frozen ready meal is a big reality of our younger generation, so letting the children roll, make and cook the pizza is a bonus for them and will hopefully show them it doesn’t have to be all ready made. Arin my son who is 12 has started up a little pocket money venture by making and selling his own pizza’s to our Neighbours. I am happy, as he is learning new skills, from planning, money, preparation and customer service and he is making a cool bit of pocket money on the side !
Being adventurous is also key with these Pizza, and having people over and laying out all of the toppings is a real novelty. We put out the basics from mozzarella, anchovies, pineapple to Garlic mushrooms and Balsamic caramelized red onions, and some of the combinations created were a bit OTT, but none the less !
We even invented the crushed banana and Nutella pizza topped off with whipped cream which the adults enjoyed more than the children to be honest. The possibilities are plentiful with this oven and there are even steak racks and kebab skewers that can be used with it.
So my big question is would I recommend this oven as it is not a cheap purchase ! My honest answer is yes, I actually would. We are a family of five that love good food, regular guests and family visitors, the children are over moon as we have regular pizza nights and we can socialise at home a lot more. The kids have also said they want birthday parties at home which will save me a fortune. So all in all, an extravagant purchase but with many advantages.
This oven is available at Callow Retail and they offer many variations of pizza ovens and Outdoor Items.
I was not paid for this Review.