Posted in Baking

Caputo Gluten Free Pizza Flour

pizz - 1The true test of any gluten free pizza is whether it is as palatable cold as it is hot. What might pass as acceptable straight out of the oven can be very different the following day. Slimy is the adjective I’d use to describe the sensation of swallowing GF pizza — until now, that is. Before I get to the Caputo experience, here’s what I’ve tried so far in my search for an acceptable GF pizza.

Pizza Express

I ordered some pizzas from this chain, who offer a gf option with any topping. These crusts are clearly industrially produced pre-formed bases, supplied to restaurants to use on request. They’re not particularly brilliant. Quality is acceptable hot, not so great cold. An expensive option, in excess of £10 per (not very big) pizza. I haven’t tried Dominos, who only offer a limited selection with a GF base, but I suspect similar outcomes.

Bob’ Red Mill81xOpErAmoL._SL1500_The first home-made GF pizza crust mix I used was Bob’s Red Mill (Amazon), which is a blend of brown rice flour, potato starch, millet, sorghum, tapioca, and potato flours with both xanthan and guar gum. These kinds of blends are hard to reproduce at home, as they require you to have a cupboard full of different flours. This mix makes a very wet dough (the recipe on the packet calls for eggs as well as water and oil), which is hard to work with: you basically have to push it into a baking tin with your fingers. I was very disappointed in the result, both hot and cold. It took a lot of cooking (much more than a standard bread base) and the texture was very gummy.

Teff

I moved on to try teff flour as a main ingredient (again, from Amazon), and this was fairly successful, making for a crisper pizza crust with a decent flavour. It was like pizza made with wholemeal flour, which might actually appeal to some people. It was definitely edible and not unpleasant cold, though not brilliant.

(I tried combining a bit of teff flour with some of the Bob’s Red Mill mix, with disastrous results. I pre-cooked the crusts for five minutes to avoid undercooking them, but they were quite nasty and I ended up throwing one whole base and most of the one finished pizza I made in the bin.)

Pre-made bases

ProductsUSA_ Pizza CrustIn most supermarkets, you can find Schär pre-cooked bases (on the small side), which are okay, but nothing special, and no good cold. They come in a vacuum sealed bag, which means they keep indefinitely, I guess, but they’re only average (as, to be fair, are most pre-cooked crusts).

The better pre-made option was a raw dough (chiller section) in the French supermarket Auchan. This was pretty good, though again on the small side, and required five minutes pre-cooking before you put the topping on.

It’s a characteristic of GF (so-called) dough that it requires more time to cook than wheat-based options.

Which brings me to…

…Caputo

pizz - 1 (1)By a weird coincidence (or is it?), the people from whom I buy my 25kg sacks of Caputo (blue) pizza flour emailed me the other day with news of a new product, Caputo Fiore Glut.

Well, I couldn’t get to the laptop to order quickly enough. My main reason for optimism is that Caputo is an Italian product aimed at professionals. The recipe on the (1kg) pack is for the entire pack, for example, and the instructions on the web site suggest making the dough balls in advance and keeping them in the “walk in cooler”. I didn’t think Caputo would put their name on anything less than the best product you can get. Caputo are the Apple of pizza flour. Or something.

The first surprising thing about this flour mix is that the recipe calls for 800 ml of water per kilo of flour. Regular blue Caputo uses a ratio of 65% water to flour for a pizza base (depending on humidity, you might add a bit more or less). 80% water suggested this would be a very wet dough, but it was not. In fact, I added a little extra water and it could have taken more. I didn’t use the whole kilogram, but enough (300g) for a couple of 30cm pizzas.

pizz - 2The mix* consists of Rice starch, rice flour, potato starch, soy flour, sugar, both guar and xanthan gum (your gluten substitutes) and fibre. There are no eggs required in the recipe, just water, yeast, salt, and a bit of oil.

The second surprise was that the dough rose quite quickly. I didn’t have time for a long rise, so I added a couple of tsp yeast, and it rose at the same rate as the regular wheat dough I made at the same time. In contrast, the dough made with Teff flour certainly fermented when left, but didn’t noticeably rise, even when left for several hours. The Caputo GF dough was slightly harder to work with than Caputo Blue, obviously not as stretchy, and harder to move onto the peel. The greatest challenge with GF pizza dough is to keep the shape regular, but I don’t worry too much about that — as you can see. I rolled the second one directly onto a peel, which made it much easier to handle.

I cooked the two pizzas on my stone on the barbecue, sliding from the peel using cornmeal to prevent sticking. They cooked more or less as quickly as a regular base.

The results were crisp, with a good inner texture of air pockets, and while not as tasty as a base made with Blue, they were pretty damn close. I send love and kisses to the whole Caputo family with gratitude.pizz - 3

And, just for the hell of it, I tried a slice cold that had been in the fridge overnight, and it was absolutely fine. No gagging on the claggy, slimy, gummy texture.

Five stars to Caputo.

*As a bonus feature, according to the specs, this flour features hardly any insect cuticle or rodent hair.

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Posted in Baking

Breakfast at Teffany’s?

gf-pizz-1I’ve been (trying to be) gluten free (GF) for four weeks now, and I’ve spent three weekends in a row experimenting with various ingredients to make baked goods and other things. I’ve also raided the supermarket shelves for GF items with mixed success.

Although some of the seeded breads are okay in small quantities, and as long as you toast them, I’ve been struggling to find something that hits the spot when it comes to spreading butter on it. I’ve thrown away one failed so-called bread and found that most of the shop-bought stuff has to be heavily adulterated to make it palatable. I tried a Warburton’s sliced brown loaf, for example, which I could only eat in the form of an egg/bacon sandwich or crisped up in olive oil as croutons, or smothered in (GF) welsh rarebit.

gf-cook-1This weekend it was the turn of Teff flour. Sainsbury’s sell a tiny (125g) pot of it in their GF section (Doves brand), which is barely enough to use in a single recipe. So I ordered some of this stuff, and used it this weekend to make the following:

  • Chocolate chip cookies
  • Pizza base
  • Crumpets/pikelets

I used the Doves teff flour last weekend to make the same cookies, but their recipe had water in it, which was bizarre. As with so many of these things, a lot of recipes and pre-packaged goods try to take into account multiple dietary needs. In this case, I guess they were avoiding egg as well as gluten. Well, this weekend, I made the recipe with an egg instead of 4 tbsp of water, and it was much better. The cookies held their shape well and were less crumbly. Teff flour (even this “wholegrain white”) has something of the texture of wholemeal wheat bread flour, so everything I make with it reminds me of some of the vegetarian recipes I’ve followed, which always include wholemeal flour when they could just as easily include white or sauce flour. So the cookies are pretty good, like standard cookies made with wholemeal, which makes me wonder about making digestive biscuits.

For the pizza base, I used 125g teff topped up to 150g with cornmeal for added crunch. The dough was very soft (softer than a cookie dough, looser than pastry) and nothing like traditional dough. So you have to push it into a tin by hand. I lined the tin with baking parchment because I’ve learned the hard way that gluten free stuff tends to stick more. After about two hours, I topped the base with the usual pizza toppings, and I baked it in a hot oven for about 15 minutes. The result was much better than my previous attempts (and those I’d bought in supermarkets). A crunchy crust that was quite palatable – you could convince yourself that you were eating a regular pizza made with wholemeal flour.

Onto the crumpets. Last weekend, I tried crumpets with Doves GF flour, but they ended up stodgy, without the right kind of texture. Disappointing, because Warburton’s GF crumpets are among the few bread products I’ve tried that are okay (if expensive, which is why I wanted to make my own). So I made the same recipe again, but swapping out half of the flour for teff. I also tweaked it by adding a bit more salt, more bicarbonate of soda and a hair more yeast. This time, the batter fermented very well, and the resulting crumpets taste good and have a good, aerated texture. In colour, they look yellower than regular crumpets.

After two batches of four, I was a bit fed up of the crumpets sticking to the rings (hard to get out because they were so hot), so I just cooked the rest of the batter as pikelets, which was perfect. In the future, I’ll not bother with the rings and I’ll just make batches of pikelets. These are great when warmed in the toaster and spread with butter. Nirvana!

gf-cook-1-1Other successes over the past couple of weeks:

  • Cake au jambon – a French style savory cake made with a jar of green olives and some bacon or ham. Works perfectly well with GF flour, and because it’s an enriched dough, it’s fairly indistinguishable from the original.
  • GF naan bread – while not as puffed up as regular naans, these were pretty good really, and went down well with a chicken curry.
  • GF dumplings – these were nothing like dumplings, but fairly close in nature to scones, or what the Americans call biscuits. We had something similar at school, and they called it beef cobbler.

gf-cook-2After all this, I think I can go forward, though I’m still obviously hoping that my possible gluten intolerance is not a thing, and I can go back to eating wheat. In terms of my eczema, the itching continues, four weeks into the experiment.

Posted in Baking, musings

Going off the gluten

img_7427I’m not really the kind of person who would give up something like wheat just because, under my 21st century clothes, I’m still a caveman who didn’t evolve to eat refined white flour. I’m aware of course of the one percent of the population who have a genuine health reason (coeliac disease) not to eat gluten, but I’ve also been peripherally aware of a number of people who have taken to a gluten-free diet for unspecific lifestyle related reasons, in much the same way as one might give up red meat, or go organic.

But, see, I’ve had this eczema-like itchy rash for several months now, and I was at the hospital for a biopsy, and the doctor asked if I had tried giving up gluten.

Well, I said, I cut it out for a couple of days in the summer (because I’d been reading widely about possible causes for my mystery rash), but it made no difference.

A couple of days isn’t enough, she said. You have to go for several weeks at least.

Urgh.

So, okay. I’m giving it a go. It has been a week and a bit, and no change is yet perceptible in the itching. It tends to be worse when my brain’s processor is idle; it’s almost like restless feet in that respect. So I’ve been sitting here thinking, two, three more weeks, maybe. And then I read this:

It is important to appreciate that a gluten free diet may have no effect on the rash for approximately six months and sometimes, even longer.

That sound you hear, like water going down the plughole, is my life draining away. I’ve spent 30 years of my life, for example, perfecting my home-made pizza(s) recipe. I’ve got a 25kg bag of Italian 00 pizza flour in the cupboard and home-made sweet fennel sausage (containing gluten) in the freezer. And I want to cry. Obviously, I can still make it for other people, but not to be able to eat it myself is like (*reaches for grandiose comparison*) Moses not being able to enter the promised land or Jonny Ive not being able to use an iPhone.

The supermarkets are making a lot of money out of the gluten-free crowd. It’s kinda criminal. A teeny tiny loaf of urky bread full of holes costs more than a full-sized standard loaf. A ciabatta roll costing twice as much as a standard one is also half the size. If something costs a couple of quid, the gluten-free version is £1.50 more, and has a weird texture and tastes worse.

So here’s hoping my biopsy result is negative for that thing, that dermatitis herpetiformis thing.

Anyway, I’ve tried quite a lot of gluten free food over the past week or so. Oats for breakfast, and oat biscuits: acceptable. Almost every variety of bread: glop. Pizza: cardboard*. On the plus side: Pieminster chicken pie: good; quiche: also decent. Tesco carrot cake: actually pretty similar to the real thing. So it seems that cakes, biscuits and pastry can be replicated, but anything bread-based is a big fat nope.

*The pre-packed pizza problem is not aided by the fact that I KEEP FORGETTING the damn things are in the oven. They don’t cook like a normal pizza. They seem to use weird cheese that doesn’t MELT, which means I usually end up carbonising it, like the one above.

Posted in Baking, bastards, musings

Kenwood FP959 Food Processor – review

Nuovi gadget casalinghi (I)

So I bought this to use in my kitchen in France. I wasn’t going to spend a fortune – it’s only for two months a year. I’ve aways used Magimix in the past. I don’t mind them. I appreciate the single-speed motor and the all-round simplicity of the design. I’ve always objected to the unnecessary gubbins you get with food processors (extra, smaller, bowls, storage compartments, attachments you never use), but there’s no avoiding them.

The Kenwood was £99, as opposed to a whole lot more for a Magimix. I just needed something to help me chop, grate blend, mix, etc. in a kitchen that has absolutely nothing in it (not even a worktop) bar the two sharp knives I bought in the summer.

It doesn’t feel very solid. It’s lightweight, but it does stick to the surface using suction cups. I’m placing it on an old formica table, and it doesn’t move around, which is good. Arrives in an oversized box and includes a blender, a small attachment for chopping nuts/herbs, and the usual bowl, along with four discs and two blades, one supposedly sharp, and one for dough.

So far I’ve used it to grate vegetables for coleslaw, grate a bit of cheese, make some dough, make some breadcrumbs, and chop some herbs, gerkins, and so on.

The most important bit for me was the dough mixing, as I hate kneading bread by hand. Here we have a problem. I was using unfamiliar (type 55) French flour purchased in E Leclerc, so I wasn’t sure how much water it would absorb. In the end, I made a somewhat wet dough on first attempt, and then had to spend a lot of time scraping out the bowl. The dough gets everywhere, including up the inside of the bowl centre. and all over the spindle (and inside it). The spindle is very different from a Magimix, and needs to be attached in advance of the bowl. The bowl and everything else will only go on in one way.

So the sough got everywhere. My second batch, I added less water, but still found it got everywhere, and didn’t mix well, either – I had to finish by kneading by hand, and I was blending a soft sticky bit with a solid lump. It really wasn’t very efficient at mixing (whereas my memories of doing the same thing in a Magimix are that it mixes quickly and cleanly).

For the coleslaw, I had to deal with a large number of ungrated lumps of cabbage, apple, pear, and onion. What it grated, it grated well, but it must have left 25% or so ungrated. Again, inefficient. Chopping herbs in the small herb chopper, or chopping gerkins in the same attachment: again, not very efficient. You’re dealing with some bits that are virtually liquidised, and others that are still more or less whole.

As for creating breadcrumbs, this should have been easy. I had a number of bits of 2-day-old bread, and I put them in the main bowl with the supposedly sharp blade. Well. Not very good. I think I could have stood there all day, and I’d have ended up with big lumps of bread mixed in with the breadcrumbs.

I expected to be disappointed, because I knew I was compromising, but it’s really not very good at all, not much of a labour-saving device, and not much of a time saver, either.

If you can afford it, get a Magimix. If you can’t afford a Magimix, invest in a really sharp knife and a decent cheese grater.

Posted in Baking

Marble Rye

Judging from photos on the interwebs, there are a number of ways of producing a marble rye like the one immortalised in the Seinfeld episode The Rye. My memory of the one in the show was that it was a plaited loaf, a challah, so I decided to try that. Yesterday, I dipped my toe by making a couple of two-strand loaves, using a viking loaf dough and a lighter, unseeded, half. It worked quite well (and was delicious), so I decided to try a 4-strander of enormous proportions, but with no seeds.

Image
The first attempt – a 2-strander

The dark half

I started the dark half with 150g of wholemeal rye flour mixed with just 50g of wholemeal wheat, half a teaspoon of yeast and enough water to form a dough. I left this overnight.

As with all overnight sponges made with dark rye flour, it didn’t do much – didn’t form a dome or anything, although the lump of dough itself expanded and did ferment. The following morning I added 100ml water, then 140g of wholemeal bread flour, 140g of French bread flour (the Flour Bin’s Type 55), two teaspoons of fast-action yeast, two tablespoons of cocoa (for colour), a tablespoon of treacle, one and a half teaspoons of salt, and about 20g of butter. I started the mixer, and added another splash of water, and kept adding water until I had a good sticky dough. It mixes for a long time before the gluten starts to develop. I added a little more water now and then, until I was happy with the consistency of the dough (sticking to the bottom of the bowl but not to the sides).

I left it to rise.

The light half

For this I used the same method, but substituted the Flour Bin’s lighter rye flour and used white bread flour instead of wholemeal. There was no cocoa, and I used a teaspoon of sugar instead of treacle. Again, I added enough water to form a stretchy dough that stuck to the bottom of the bowl but not to the sides.

Plaiting and baking

Image
The 4-strander before the oven

When both halves had proved for an hour or so, I divided each batch into two and then created some long strands for plaiting. I’ve almost never done this kind of thing, and had to look at a youtube video to get the method right (4 over 2, 1 over 3, 2 over 3, repeat). I left this to rise with a clean cloth over it, and when it started to look right, turned on the oven. I left it on the standard “baking” setting, 205°C with the button set to the bread icon.

I brushed the top with an egg-water glaze for shininess, then put the loaf in the oven. It was almost too big for the width of my oven, even though it was on the metal tray that is its own shelf.

This is what it looked like when it came out:

Image
Shut up, you old bag!

But the proof will be in the tasting. Got to wait for it to cool.

UPDATE: Tasted great. Eaten with home-made butternut squash and celery soup, or just on its own with or without butter. Delicious.

Posted in Baking

Viking Bread attempt 2

BUHwsXXCIAA92hV.jpg-large

Following my first experiment, I wanted to try essentially the same thing using the overnight sponge method, hoping to develop more flavour and more of an open texture.

This time, I decided to leave the butter out, because with a dough containing both cocoa and treacle, there was a danger of making it too cake-like.

I ordered a variety of flours from the flour bin, and decided on this occasion to use their multi-grain mix along with a dark rye flour.

The overnight sponge was made with rye flour, a half teaspoon of yeast, and – experimentally – breadcrumbs from the last Viking loaf I made, soaked in milk. This was a suggestion from commenter Rashbre, a technique used in German rye breads. I spoke to one of the German teachers at school about this, too. I pre-cooked the milk in the microwave and then used it to soak the breadcrumbs I made in my blender from the end bit of the last Viking loaf, which I had set aside for this purpose. I made a double batch of sponge, so I used 300g of dark rye altogether, along with about 250 ml of milk.

It wasn’t very dough-like. This you expect with rye flour, which doesn’t have enough gluten in it. It didn’t look very inspiring, and didn’t seem to do much. I made it around 4pm on Friday evening, and even by the time I went to bed it didn’t appear to be alive in the way some dough starters are.

Got up this morning and split the starter in two. Had it done anything overnight? It didn’t look like it had, but it sure smelled fermented. It smelt great, in fact, like a proper sourdough, which gave me confidence going forward.

I made two batches. The first with 280g 100% 8-Grain Flour Mix added to the rye starter, along with a tablespoon of cocoa and one of treacle. Around two teaspoons of fast-action yeast, 250 ml water, and (once the dough was looking stretchy in the mixer) 1 1/2 tsp salt. You should add water in stages, because this was a wet dough. I left it on the wet side, though I did add a couple of tbsp of flour bin Type 55 French bread flour, too.

The second batch was made with half 8-Grain and half Type 55. To the first batch, I added a handful of caraway seeds (often added to rye recipes); to the second a handful of toasted sunflower seeds.

The dough took off like gangbusters, which was a surprise. I know the Flourbin put vitamin C (ascorbic acid) in their French bread flour, but both batches seemed to rise at similar rates, so they were just raring to go. I shaped both batches into loaves: one in a tin, the other not, and left them to rise a second time.

Haven’t tasted the second loaf yet, but the one above was great. A lovely mixture of flavours with the occasional burst of caraway.

Posted in Baking

Home-made viking loaf, attempt #1

IMG_4200

In France over the summer, I became enamoured with the Banette Viking, a very dark seeded loaf that only seemed to be in the bakery occasionally. It turned out that they only baked them on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, and even then only made around four. On the last Saturday, I bought all four, and brought some home with us, but they’re all gone now.

The Viking is clearly related to Scandinavian/Russian black breads. It’s obviously got Rye flour in it, as well as sunflower, sesame, linseed, and millet seeds. It also has something to give it that dark colour. Rye flour on its own is more grey than black/brown. A sniff revealed the presence of cocoa – and probably treacle. No wonder it was so delicious! Unlike most heavy rye breads, it had a light, airy sourdough-type texture, which might explain why it was only in the shop every couple of days.

When I have time, I’ll have a go at a two-day bake, but for my first attempt, I wanted to mix ingredients and go for flavour/colour before tackling the sourdough texture.

I mixed:

  • 150g dark rye flour (Doves, I think, from Tesco)
  • 250g white flour (I only had pizza flour in the house)
  • 50g wholemeal bread flour
  • 1 tsp vitamin C powder
  • 3 tsp fast-action yeast (about 10g)
  • 1 tbsp black treacle (or molasses)
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt (added to the dough once already stretchy)
  • 1 tsp Diax
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 40g softened butter
  • 1-2 tbsp sunflower seeds (all I had available)
  • 1-2 tbsp rolled oats
  • 300 ml water

I let the mixer run for about 10 minutes, and adjusted the amount of flour slightly because it was a wet dough. Ideally, you’d add the water in stages.

I put it to rise in a warm place because I was in a hurry, and after an hour or so, knocked it back and shaped it into a loaf for a tin. I rolled it in oats before putting it into the oiled tin.

It rose quite well. Then I slashed the top and baked at 220°C for 30 minutes.

You can see the results above. It was actually pretty close to being the right colour, and tasted very close to the original (maybe I added a tad too much cocoa!). Just had a slice with a poached egg for breakfast. My next plan is to source some multi-seed flour from theflourbin and try it with that.

Posted in Baking, musings

First test: G3 Ferrari Pizza Cooker (updated)


UPDATE: 28 November 2013

I’ve had the Ferrari a year now and I’ve gone through a few phases of ownership. Quite pleased with it at first, then a bit disappointed for a time, now I’ve warmed to it again. The key to success is what you do with the dough. I’ve discovered that preparing the pizza in advance and sliding it onto the Ferrari is not necessary. Read on.

Over the months, I’ve come to understand the correct method of using it. I don’t think you really need a pizza peel (as mentioned below) if you use this method. First of all, you let the Ferrari warm up for 5-10 minutes. I set it to “2” and leave it while I knock back the dough and prepare balls ready for rolling out. Then, roll out the first pizza round, keeping it just smaller than the width of the Ferrari. Now you lift the lid.

Place the rolled out dough directly on the hot Ferrari stone and leave it there, with the lid up while you add the toppings. Spread on the tomato sauce, cheese, and whatever else you’re putting on. Don’t burn yourself on the element in the lid, so work quickly and with care. This achieves two things. First of all, the base starts cooking from underneath while you sort out the toppings. Secondly, it allows the temperature of the top element to reduce and the pilot light to come on again. Once the toppings are complete, put the lid down, turn up the temperature to “3” and put the timer on the five minutes.

While the first pizza of a session might need a few extra minutes, by the second one, the temperature is such that the 5 minutes cooking time (with the base getting that bit longer while you assemble the toppings) is perfect. The good news is, even if you leave a pizza ten minutes by mistake, the pilot will go out and it won’t burn. By the way, when you lift the lid and start the second pizza, turn the temperature down to “2” temporarily to ensure that when you turn it back up to “3” it comes straight back on.

======================================================== Original Post:

In the warmer months, I cook my pizza on my gas barbecue, using the granite pizza stone Weber sell for the purpose. This is a great way to cook pizza if you can’t afford one of those fancy pants wood-fired garden ovens (which would be my first purchase on winning the lotto). The barbecue gets good and hot, and the base is crispy, with no soggy bottom.

But once the nights start drawing in, the clocks go back and the weather gets bad (though it’s bad all the time these days), it’s time to bring the pizza-making indoors. Usually, I face a few months of disappointing pizza. Even though my oven has a “pizza” mode, with top and bottom heat, it doesn’t ever really get hot enough, and the pizza comes out with a soft base, or (if you leave it in long enough to crisp the base), burnt on the top.

I have tried the old frying pan method, and this works, but is messy and can set off every smoke alarm in the house.

So when I saw the G3 Ferrari Pizza Cooker on the interwebs, I was very excited, and my wife immediately offered to get one for my birthday. (Yeah, turn that around and make it a man offering to buy his wife a domestic appliance for her birthday!)

So we’ve got kids’ parties coming up and we decided to get it early and have a practice, which you can see in the video above.

This is not as effective as cooking pizza on a barbecue, nor as good as a proper wood-fired oven, but in the winter months, or when the weather’s too bad for a barbecue, this is a better option than a domestic oven on anything other than the pyrolysis setting.

Note that you will need a pizza peel to get your pie onto the Ferrari, and these are not “supplied” as the manual appears to state. The manual is in a variety of languages, but the accompanying recipe booklet is in Italian. But if you’re buying one of these, you already know how to make pizza.

This was the first time I’d used it, and there was a slight whiff of factory coating, which meant that the first pizza was a bit tainted. The following morning I made camembert flatbreads quite successfully, and the factory taint was gone.

One thing to watch out for is the red pilot light. I guess as a safety feature, this cuts out when the oven reaches a certain temperature, but you need it to be ON when you put your pizza in so that the top element is working. So the oven gets pre-heated to get the stone hot, but then you have to open the lid to get the light to come on. I’m not yet used to its ways and found it a bit of a pain this first time. You can see in a couple of shots in the video that the light was out at certain points. I was a bit nonplussed to see that it immediately got steam condensation on its inside.

The timer lasts for five minutes, which is not long enough with the pilot light out. So sometimes you have to get it to come on and then re-set the timer. I’m sure I’ll get used to it, but so far it means that the advertised “5 minutes” cooking time is a bit of a stretch. For me, the length of time is less important than the finished result. What you want is a crispy base and a cooked topping. Five minutes or ten minutes, makes no difference to me. One benefit of the pilot light system is that, if you forget you have a pizza on the go (which I am almost bound to do), it probably won’t burn to a crisp.

You’re advised to avoid spilling toppings onto the stone, which has a porous texture. Personally, I think that for things to be working as they should, your stone should be thoroughly seasoned, and you’ll never keep it perfectly clean. So I wasn’t worried about getting anything on it. Just scrape it off after. In the video above I was using Sainsbury’s sundried tomato paste, which is a lot more liquid than the stuff I usually buy in Waitrose. This led to the slightly oily looking pizza that emerges in the video.