Pieday Friday ~ Using a pizza oven for the first time!

Last week hubby and I were lucky enough to be invited to take part in a photo-shoot for Alde Garden campsite. Although I’d visited the site before it was exciting to see the garden at dusk with all the pretty fairy lights glittering in the trees and to enjoy a little peace and quiet, with the crackling campfire and birdsong being the only sounds I could hear.

We were given a tour of the wildlife garden and popped our heads inside the gypsy caravan and bell tent, and felt the warmth of the wood burners inside the gorgeous yurts and tipi. Even though we were there for ‘modelling’ purposes, the whole aura of the site is so calm that we instantly found ourselves feeling relaxed and spent most of the evening chilling out around the campfire with a beer rather than posing for photos!

My beady eye had previously spotted a clay pizza oven beside the outdoor camp kitchen (above) and I really wanted to have a go a making a proper stone-baked pizza. So we took some dough and toppings with us to the campsite and I couldn’t wait to get it fired up to make a couple of pizzas to share with the campers and owners. Inspired by our recent trip to Jamie Oliver’s Pizzeria in Cambridge (read my blog post here!) I chose to use Jamie’s recipe for pizza dough, which you can follow here on Jamie’s cookery website. We made a tomato sauce by sautéing one finely diced onion with garlic and tomato puree before adding a tin of chopped tomatoes, a few torn basil leaves, seasoning and a teaspoon of sugar. We allowed this to simmer down into a thick sauce and then popped it into a jar so that it was easy to transport with us to the campsite.

On site, hubby prepared the base and spread on the tomato sauce. I added a few olives, sautéed courgettes, some fresh herbs from our garden and a grating of cheese before carefully sliding it onto the plank to transfer it into the hot pizza oven. This photo looks like we’ve added it straight into the fire, but the picture was taken solely for ‘photo-shoot’ purposes! The fire was actually scraped out of the oven and the embers were pushed to the sides before the pizza was flopped onto the hot stone oven base. A wooden door covers the front of the oven to keep the temperature up and it had been soaked in water so it added a little steam to the process. After only about 7/8 minutes the first pizza was cooked, with a crispy bottom and puffy dough, so we popped the second pizza in and began tearing it up to share with the happy campers.

It was a magical evening at Alde Garden and I hope to go back there as a ‘proper guest’ sometime soon because I just can’t get enough of the relaxed ambience of the place, plus I’ll get to make more delicious stone-baked pizzas! Let me know if you use my tomato sauce recipe and tweet me photos to @Cassiefairy if you have a go at making your own homemade pizzas.

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Cassie Fairy
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