Wednesday, June 24, 2009
First Pootzy Pizza
We're off the grid out at Bide-A-Wee, the radio our only form of modern entertainment. Sometimes even that is not so modern, as when Wisconsin Public Radio runs "Old-Time Radio Drama." The weekend we built the earth oven, we listened to one about a young boy, Runyon Jones, who goes traveling across the universe looking for his dog that was killed while chasing a car. The dog's name was Pootzy. Pootzy was a good dog, but mischievous, so he has wound up in "Curgatory." We named the oven in his honor.
But on to the important stuff: How did it work? Well, okay. Small as it is, it didn't hold the heat very well. We need to add an insulating layer of material on the outside, and insulate underneath, as well. That's not to say we didn't enjoy a marvelous dinner as a result of our first baking in the earth oven:
First we had to dry the oven out. Though it had been sitting for a week, it had dried hardly at all. In the top picture you can see the color difference between the dry clay just around the door, and the rest. We kept a fire in it for several hours Sunday morning and afternoon. As it dried, it cracked a bit, probably because our clay mix was too wet; I think we can patch that.
When I got tired of tending the fire, I let it die down, then swept out the ashes and roasted baby beets and new potatoes from the market, wrapped in aluminum foil. That worked great.
Early in the evening we fired it up again. I made a simple, no-recipe dough--water, yeast, salt, olive oil, all-purpose and whole wheat flour. We topped the first pizza with lardons of our home-smoked maple-cured bacon, sliced spring onions from the market, and a bit of aged Marieke gouda .
Into the oven, close the door, hope for the best.
The big question: Is it hot enough?
We baked it for twelve minutes, turned it around once. It was wonderful. We made a salad of the roasted beets, tossing them with red wine vinegar, a bit of cream, dill, spring onion, salt and pepper. Mala, thanks for sharing your beet stash with us!
The second pizza, topped with Wisconsin baby swiss and mixed herbs from our garden, got cooked but not very brown. It had a sort of a breadstick quality to it, like those soft breadsticks you get with your soup at a lunch buffet; tasty enough, but it wouldn't win any pizza contests. As I said, more insulation is the key. We'll work on it. For now, we consider our first Pootzy firing and baking a solid success, and a base to build on.
Text and photos copyright 2009 by Brett Laidlaw