Christmas gifts. They say it’s the thought that counts. A well-chosen gift speaks volumes. Here is an accidental gift. Quirky and inexpensive. A definite conversation piece.
At home with my parents we decided to make pizza for lunch. My parents have only very recently discovered the Internet. Bookmarked on their computer? My blog. Consummate foodies at heart they love to read about what we’re eating. My father is especially tickled pink when I publish posts about his garden, particularly when I photograph his beloved produce.
There was another post that piqued their imagination. A few months ago I travelled to Daylesford to visit one of my oldest friends. Jane. In her garden there is a rather impressive wood fired pizza oven. Sadly, the weather transpired against us and we didn’t get the opportunity to fire up that oven. Jane’s husband, the rather resourceful Russell converted his hooded BBQ under cover of the verandah into a pizza oven using garden pavers.
Pizza for lunch. A light bulb moment. I’d convert my Dad’s hooded BBQ into a pizza oven. All I had to do was visit the local Bunnings Warehouse. How difficult could that be? A quick search on the website. Stone pavers in stock. Tick. I’d be there and back in half an hour. Make the pizza dough. Leave it to prove. Jump in the car. Armed with my holy grail. Three rules for pizza stone sourcing.
- To avoid exploding pizza stones. Do not use any sort of imitation or reconstituted stone.
- Absolutely no cement. It can be highly combustible and harbours cement dust and other nasties.
- Unglazed is best. I certainly didn’t want to be baking any unidentified chemicals used in the sealants into my pizza.
What can I say forewarned is forearmed. It seems every single brick, tile and paver carried by Bunnings, our largest hardware chain, is made of reconstituted cement. It might look like sandstone, bluestone, limestone or any other stone you can think of but it certainly wasn’t natural. It soon became apparent that what I really needed was a simple, unglazed, red clay quarry tile, brick or paver.
My options? Put in a special order. Unlikely to be filled until late January. Everything closes for the summer. Or… at my mother’s suggestion take another short drive. This time to the local quarry and landscape supplier. With a large, thriving garden my parents certainly had the inside running of who could help me on a Sunday morning.
I can reliably tell you that the gentlemen at the quarry were amused. Very amused. But… they had exactly what I was looking for. At a bargain basement price of 25 c per brick. At that price I bought a car boot full. To distribute as perfect “man” gifts over the Christmas season. After all what Aussie bloke doesn’t love his BBQ? The parting shot from my new found quarry friends? Be careful they don’t throw them back at you love.
CONVERTING YOUR BBQ INTO A PIZZA OVEN
Place your “stones” onto a cold BBQ hot plate. Lower the lid and preheat your BBQ to 200 – 250 C for at least 20 minutes, but up to an hour. Build your pizza on an oven tray sprinkled with semolina flour. Slide your pizza from the tray onto the stone, or even easier place the tray directly onto the stone. Bake for 8 – 10 minutes. Be careful not to burn the base! This pizza cooks very fast.
We were so busy admiring our handiwork and eating pizza I forgot to take photos. Apart from this one photo. Of our maiden pizza. About 5 minutes into the baking. You will have to take my word for it. The pizzas were delicious. With a thin, crisp, slightly charred crust.
For those of you who are interested in converting your BBQ into a pizza oven I can highly recommend it. Here is the link to the original blog Russell’s Little Secret. Stone Pizza complete with recipes and detailed pizza making tips.