Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Wood Fired

A friend, a Lassie from Nebraska, has a wood fired oven in her backyard and knows how to use it. For Memorial Day Sweetie and I were invited over for pizza,so I was able to see how it is done in that oven. BTW, it's been two months since Sweetie sliced his fingers and he is doing really well with the recovery. He can button his shirt cuff with the left hand again...a true milestone since it requires that he use his thumb where it was injured. Yay!

I know that I just posted about pizza, but wood fired pizza is even better! These were smaller pizzas, about 9 inches in diameter, but that was just big enough to cut into 6 pieces so we could each have some.

 First the Lassie from Nebraska cleaned it out since this is the first use of the season, then she built a fire on the oven floor, which is almost shoulder high. Once the fire was going well and had heated one part of the oven, she moved it around to other parts of the oven...the inner roof of the oven let her know when to move the fire to heat other parts. Eventually she moved the fire to the back corner and used a cool laser tool to measured how hot the floor was...800 degrees F!

By the time she had prepared the first pizza on a long-handled paddle, the oven had cooled enough to bake the pizza. She slid the pizza off the paddle (thanks to the corn meal which kept the dough from sticking to the paddle) onto the hot oven floor. She used a smaller long-handled paddle to turn the pizza half way through cooking, but the whole thing took about 3 minutes. It was outstanding! The crust was crisp and golden brown and the toppings heated through and the cheese melted.

Eventually I helped with making the pizzas so that she could do the baking (hot work)

and we could have to kinds ready almost at the same time. She had already portioned the dough (and it was a nice simple dough without any oil), so we sprinkled corn meal on the paddle,

let gravity help stretch the dough into a sort-of-circle, then did the final stretching on the paddle on top of the corn meal. Some of the pizzas were then brushed with olive oil before being topped.

She had prepared a lot of topping combinations. We started with classic Margherita pizza, with tomato, basil and mozzarella cheese. Simply wonderful!

Next up was Scottish smoked salmon, dill, and fresh cheese. That may have been my favorite, but then I do love salmon.

There was one with blue cheese, caramelized onions, fresh thyme - a perfect flavor combo. You can see that the blue cheese melts down so it is hard to tell it is there...until you bite into it and taste the blue cheese with the perfection of the cooked onions.

Another had yukon gold potatoes (tiny slices), asparagus, thyme and Fontina cheese - delicious!

How about pesto, tomato, brie and asparagus? - a winner.

The last one was a combo with bits and pieces of many of the forgoing ones, although we didn't mix in the smoked salmon...that would have been a waste of excellent salmon.

Although we had a relatively small piece of each pizza, it was filling after the 6th or 7th slice. The pizza was followed by a wonderful spinach salad.

For dessert we had a homemade creamy cheese pie with fresh blueberries and strawberries. Truly a memorable and delightful meal and the company was wonderful, too. Thanks Lass!


  1. Wow all the pizzas look wonderul. Must be fantastic to have your own wood fired oven in the garden. You'll have to go again and try baking a loaf of bread in it. Bet it would be fantastic!

  2. Yum!! Sounds so good and how cool is that!(is there any of that asparagus left?)

  3. Wow! How cool (or rather, I guess I should say "hot") is that?!

    I love the look of all the pizzas but I think the one with the blue cheese and onions looks the most thrilling.

    Yes, you must go back to bake bread. And also to make cassoulet! (I know, cassoulet isn't exactly summer food but can't you imagine how fabulous baked beans would be if they were cooked in a wood fire oven?)

  4. Ohhh I would so love one of those!

  5. Anonymous2:50 PM

    The paddle you describe is called a "peel" according to a book on the subject by Fr. Dominic of PBS fame. The same source calls the dough without sugar or oil Italian style vs. American style, which also includes milk. It is streched vs. rolled or tossed, as you describe. The whole meal sounds delish!

    No handle.