Introduction: Preparing a Pizza Base to Cook in a Wood-fired Pizza Oven

So you have gone and invested some hard-earned cash in purchasing a wood-fired pizza oven (or maybe spent many hours making one?). How do you get the best out of it?

I have been through the trial and error process, so you don't have to!

Just follow these simple tips and tricks and you will soon be serving up delicious pizzas that will wow your friends and family.

Step 1: Preparing Your Pizza Dough

The secret to the perfect wood-fired pizza is having a good elastic dough that is not too sticky. This will ensure that the dough can be rolled out very thinly (no more that 1/4 inch (6 mm) thick).

Whilst there are ready made pizza doughs available to buy, I have found that the best bases are those made from a home made dough. It is not a difficult thing to make - you just need to start making your dough at least 3 hours ahead of when you need to use it.

Try experimenting with different dough recipes until you find one that works for you. I have achieved the best results using Italian strong white flour (also known as tipo, '00' grade or pasta flour).

After the dough has finished its second prove, separate the dough evenly into fist- sized balls.

Step 2: Ingredients

To make your pizza base, you will need:

  • a fist-sized ball of dough, proved and ready for rolling
  • concentrated tomato paste
  • herbs and seasonings

plus, your own choice of toppings.

Our family favorites include:

  • cooked ham or other charcuterie (cut into small pieces)
  • olives (drained)
  • sweet pepper (finely diced)
  • sweetcorn (drained)
  • fresh mozzarella cheese (drained)
  • grated cheese
  • fresh basil and/or oregano leaves

You will also need the following:

  • extra flour for dusting
  • a rolling pin
  • a wooden board
  • a pizza peel (or similar)
  • a pizza wheel/cutter

Step 3: Preparing the Pizza Base

Allow approximately 1 hour for rolling out the dough and preparing the bases.

Dust your worktop surface with flour and place your ball of dough in the center of the work surface.

Start rolling the dough out using the rolling pin. Turn your dough every so often to produce a circular shape of approximately 12 inch (300 mm) diameter. It does not need to be a perfect circle - it will still taste delicious whatever shape you produce.

You will find that the elasticity of the dough causes it to shrink back as you roll it out. Just keeping turning and rolling the dough and it will eventually stretch out enough to form a base for your toppings.

At this stage, I transfer the dough onto a wooden board before proceeding to roll out the remaining dough balls in a similar fashion.

Step 4: Adding the Toppings

When all of your bases are ready, mix your tomato paste with salt, pepper and dried mixed herbs. It is important that this mixture is not too wet.

Spoon some of the mixture onto each base and cover the dough thinly with the tomato paste ix. Leave a margin of approximately 1/2 inch (12 mm) of dough around the edge of the pizza to form the crust.

Then add your choice of toppings to the base, finishing off with the addition of the cheese.

The pizza oven reaches temperatures of up to 800 degrees Fahrenheit (400 degrees centigrade) and the dough cooks very quickly (in 1-2 minutes)

You must ensure that the layer of toppings is thin enough to cook through just as quickly - you do not want to burn your pizza dough by leaving it in the oven too long whilst waiting for the toppings to cook.

Step 5: Cooking the Pizza

When the pizza oven is up to temperature, transfer the pizza to a pizza peel that has been dusted with flour.

Use a swift forward-thrusting motion to transfer the pizza onto the floor of the oven. Take the peel out of the oven and leave to one side.

Leave to cook for 1-2 minutes - you can check how the base is looking by lifting the edge of the base with the pizza peel. The dough will have bubbled up on top and the cheese will be melted when it is ready to remove from the oven.

Use a similar forward-thrusting motion with the pizza peel to slide it underneath the cooked pizza and remove it from the oven.

Step 6: Slice and Enjoy!

The pizza is ready for slicing straight away.

Use a pizza wheel or sharp knife to cut through the pizza.

Serve and enjoy!

I normally aim to produce one 12 inch pizza per person and tailor the toppings to individual tastes.

Serve with a mixed salad, garlic bread and a cool beer or two!

Pizza Speed Challenge 2020

Participated in the
Pizza Speed Challenge 2020