Summer is well and truly here. How do we know? We had two more invitations to outdoor parties this week, and they’re both for pizza parties. Two separate sets of friends have invested in an outdoor pizza oven for their garden, and it looks like building home made pizzas and cooking them outdoors is becoming very popular indeed.
We thought it’d be cool to look into the whole pizza thing, including the history of one of the Western world’s favourite foods, some unusual pizza recipes, how to make baking pizzas ridiculously easy and a peep at some of our most popular pizza-led products.
Who invented pizza?
The history of pizza differs depending on exactly how you define the dish. Basic flat oven-baked unleavened bread – in other words breads made without yeast – has been around for thousands of years, probably originating in the Middle East. The popularity of flat breads spread around the world to the ancient Babylonians, Israelites and Egyptians, and it’s still enjoyed today.
Think bread with topping and you can roll back the history of pizza to the ancient Greeks and Romans, both of whom enjoyed flat breads smothered in tasty stuff like olive oil, herbs and spices, in other words focaccia, a bread-based dish that’s still popular today.
Today’s pizza, with tomato paste, cheese and toppings, actually came from Italy. One particular Naples baker, a man called Raffaele Esposito, is thought to have invented the modern pizza. Mr Esposito was apparently asked to create a pizza for King Umberto the First and his wife, Queen Margherita, during a state visit to his city in 1889. His invention, complete with a topping of tomatoes, mozzarella and basil, was christened the Margherita after the queen. On the other hand some historians claim that flat bread with toppings had been eaten by the poor people of Naples for a very long time, perhaps even centuries.
Italian migrants brought pizza recipes with them to wider Europe and the USA, but the trend really took off after World War Two, when British and American soldiers who’d experienced pizza when fighting in Italy brought the idea back home with them and started making the dish themselves.
These days you’d be hard pushed to find a British high street in Britain without a pizza shop of one sort or another. One of our oldest chains is Pizza Express, founded in 1965 with more than 400 branches throughout the nation. The rest, as they say, is history.
The easiest way to make pizza yourself
You could make your own pizza dough. But, as anyone who has watched Bake-Off knows, dough can be a bugger to make, temperamental stuff that’s rarely as easy as it looks. Want to know the best part? The trick is to buy ready made pizza dough, which makes the whole pizza thing so much easier to achieve. You can get it in any large supermarket, including Tesco and Waitrose. And it’s as cheap as chips. Cheaper, actually! Then all you need to know is how to use a pizza oven – and that part is as easy as pie. Pardon the pun.
The pizza party is a fast-growing trend. Thanks to home-style garden pizza ovens, it’s easier than ever to make your own. And as you know, nothing tastes quite as home made good food cooked outdoors.
We’ve been to a few pizza parties recently. Our favourite involved everyone rolling their own pizza dough base, then building their very own pizza from a huge selection of tasty topping ingredients. Then we formed an orderly queue and each cooked our own pizzas on a couple of large pizza ovens set up permanently on the patio, in the shade. As you can imagine, the kids adored it. So did the grown ups. We can’t wait for next time.
Favourite pizza topping ingredients
Want some inspiration? As well as the basics – tomato purée and mozzarella cheese – here are just a few of the ingredients you can use for DIY pizza parties.
- Egg, hummus and Quorn meat substitutes
- Prawns, shrimps, crab meat, lobster, mackerel, anchovies and tuna
- Mushrooms of various kinds
- Different cheeses to add to your basic mozzarella: cheddar, Edam, parmesan, feta, goats cheese, blue cheeses, garlic cheese, smoked cheese and so on
- Sausage, bacon, ham, gammon, mince, chorizo, pepperoni, chicken, pork, beef, turkey and veal
- Onions, peppers, garlic, olives, capers and gherkins
- Sweetcorn, peppers, chillies, spinach, artichoke, broccoli, avocado, sun-dried tomatoes
If you’d like to check out some really unusual and super-tasty pizza recipes, there are 26 of them here on the Delish.com website.
Where to buy pizza oven accessories?
Here’s the deal. We sell pizza ovens, of course. But we also stock a range of accessories to make the whole thing easier and more fun.
What stone for a pizza oven? Our new pizza stone – ideal for perfectly baked results – is made from AFC chimalin clay, eight years in development and surprisingly resistant to heat cracking, much tougher than pizza stones made form regular clay.
Our cool pizza spatula is specially designed for the purpose, a whole lot better than ‘make do and mend’ with a non-specific tool. And our neat little fire raking tool makes easy and efficient work of keeping your oven in great shape for a constant stream of beautifully-baked pizza pies.
Our 3 top-selling pizza ovens
What’s the bottom line? These 3 brilliant garden gadgets sell like hot cakes. Or hot pizzas. They’re all great quality, cook beautifully and will give you years of loyal service.
The marvellous Movo portable pizza oven
The Movo is great value for money. It simply sits on top of a regular BBQ. It comes with a rugged steel body clad with non-rust stainless steel inside, complete with a temperature gauge so you can check the temperature without opening the door. There’s a strong tempered glass window so you can check your pizza’s progress, and it’s really easy to move on and off your BBQ.
The perfect Pizzaro pizza oven with stand
This brilliant traditional pizza oven is the Rolls Royce of our collection, a beautiful thing made from innovative fireproof clay that doesn’t crack through heat. Wheeled legs make it easy to move and the wooden rack is perfect to cool food before serving. See full details of the Pizzaro here.
The fabulous Forno
The Forno is fabulous for cooking, with super-easy assembly. It makes perfect pizza as well as being great for warming food before serving it, and it works equally well as a simple patio heater.
Happy pizza cooking!
We hope you enjoy a long, hot summer of gorgeous pizza as much as we intend to! If you need help or advice about which pizza oven to choose, give us a call or send an email.