I noticed recently that a blog post I wrote over the summer fleetingly mentioning barbecued pizzas, has leapt into my top 5 most read blog posts. At the time I wrote it we were experimenting with our new Weber pizza oven and I said I'd come back at a later stage to do a more in depth review. So as barbecue season never ends in our house, I thought now was as good a time as any for an update...
Firstly a little background... We make our pizza dough from scratch using the white dough mix in Richard Bertinet's book . You'll hear me mention Richard's book a lot on this blog. I'm not on commission, but I do rate the book very highly and would recommend it to anyone interested in home baking. For ingredients we use live yeast which I buy from Ocado and Everyday Value strong bread flour from Waitrose which is only 80p for 1.5kg.
We cook on a Weber kettle barbecue with a Weber Charcoal Pizza Oven attachment which I bought Jim for his birthday.
Cooking on the barbecue can be very successful, but we've found you need to do a couple of things to make it work. Firstly you need a REALLY hot barbecue which means lots of charcoal. Jim swears by using a chimney starter to get the charcoal going as it seems much easier than trying to light a mound of coals on the BBQ itself. Then, once the coals have been tipped into the BBQ he adds a few more just for good measure.
The second thing is polenta and lots of it. Roll the bases out in it, dust the baking sheet in it (used for transporting to the barbecue) and dust the barbecue stone with it too, otherwise the pizza will stick somewhere along the line and whoever is in charge of the barbecue will get grumpy.
Weber claim you can cook pizzas in 4 minutes, we have never achieved this and reckon it's more like 10 minutes on a good day, or sometimes half an hour if your coals aren't hot enough. The payoff is that the bases are fantastically crisp and it adds a bit of theatre to cooking.
As far as toppings go, my all time favourite is crème fraîche with leeks and parmesan, but we're always looking for new ideas, so today we tried the River Cottage spinach, pear and blue cheese pizza. I'm not normally a fan of sweet and savoury together, but my instinct that this would challenge that opinion was correct and we'll make it again.