Marco’s Top Tips for Making Great Wood Fired Pizza
Last year at the Canada Bay Club, we imported a Forni Visciano oven, artisan made in Naples, that combines gas and wood fire. We love working with this new oven to bring diners at The Brasserie some of the best pizza in the Inner West – authentic Italian versions and some of the favourite Australian flavour combinations too. Our Head Chef at The Brasserie, Marco shares his tips and inspirations behind the delicious wood fired pizzas coming out of the oven daily.
While I grew up in northern Italy, my family originally comes from Naples, so I’ve always been passionate about my pizza! Once you’ve tasted a truly great pizza cooked to perfection in a wood fired oven, those cooked in electric or gas ovens simply can’t compare. Real wood fired pizza is a world away from the fast food versions. It may be quick to cook, but an authentic pizza takes time to prepare – first making your dough, then heating the oven to the perfect temperature and selecting the best toppings before a 3-4 minute blast in the oven.
So what is it that makes a wood fired pizza taste so much better? It’s the combination of very high heat, the smoky flavour imparted by the wood, and the right dough recipe to create a perfect crust that’s crisp, chewy and bubbled all at once.
Why wood fired pizza is best
Wood fired ovens date back to Roman times. Their first advantage is even heat distribution, as the pizza is cooked both by the hot bricks on the base, and the hot air convection currents above. Second, of course, is the wood itself, which imparts a unique, smoky flavour to the crust. Because woodfired ovens provide dry, high heat (usually between 315-480°C), they not only produce the perfect light, blistered crust, but they also allow the toppings to retain more nutrients.
How to make the perfect pizza base
Great wood fired pizza starts with a good base. While no good pizzaiolo (pizza chef) shares their exact dough recipe, I will give you a few of my top tips to perfecting your pizza dough!
The quality of your pizza depends on the flour. At The Brasserie we use 5 Stagioni Pizza Napoletana Type ‘00’, a medium-high protein flour that results in an elastic dough, developed with the master chefs of the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana. If you want to try making homemade pizza dough, you can buy this specific flour brand online here.
It’s important to have the right temperature in the room when you start making your dough, to help it rise. Kneading is crucial to make a wood fired pizza dough that’s springy, not sticky. Temperature is key when making your base, too – if the dough is too cold it won’t stretch, 18-21°C is ideal.
When it comes to stretching your pizza base, thin is in, as you want your pizza to cook at these very high temperatures for just 3-4 minutes. Your pizza should end up with a light golden crust that is darker in spots, which blisters and bubbles for textural variation and visual appeal.
Not every type of pizza dough works in a wood fired oven, so if you want to try making your own, be sure to use a recipe designed for this type of oven. Try Jamie Oliver’s wood fired pizza dough here if you’re looking for a popular recipe.
The best toppings for your wood fired pizza
The quality of your ingredients is just as important for your wood fired pizza toppings. At Canada Bay Club we use the best quality cured meats, fior di latte mozzarella, bocconcini and fresh tomato pizza sauce.
We’ve designed our pizza menu to suit a variety of tastes. Some options are based on the classic Italian pizza topping combinations, such as the Margherita (tomato, fior di latte, basil) and Diavola (fior di latte, calabrese salami and chilli). You’ll also find a few pizze bianche on a tomato-free base, and specials referencing different regions of Italy. We Italians always follow the ‘less is more’ rule when it comes to the number of toppings.
It’s not always about being authentic though. You’ll also find Aussie classics such as Supreme and Meat-lovers pizza on our menu. We work in a multicultural kitchen and everyone has their own favourite topping combinations – we all learn from each other and like to try new things!
After all, the true joy of Italian food is sharing it with family and friends, so we make sure we offer something for everyone. Come in to The Brasserie and taste our delicious wood fired pizzas next time you’re craving authentic Italian food in Sydney’s Inner West.