Wood Oven Pizzas

With the advent of warmer weather, it’s time to start thinking about firing up the wood fired brick oven. We bought our brick oven second hand from a chap who was making pizzas outside the old Heart of the the Hills Market next door. He had taken early retirement to do this but decided in time that he was better off earning a salary and so sold us his oven. We gladly accepted the oven as it definitely complements what we are doing at the cellar door. Initially we used the oven on weekends until we discovered that we needed development approval to use it in the space outside our cellar door.  Then it was winter and no one wanted to sit outside or indeed come to the Hills because it was cold and wet.

So “Hooray” for the warmer weather! Warmer temperatures, sunnier days and staying light later has meant people coming back to the Hills for a day out. There’s a new page called “Menu” under our Visit our Cellar Door page. This lists what we are offering, including our popular Adelaide Hills Gourmet platter and of course, our Wood Oven Pizzas. We have a lovely courtyard to sit in, but on very hot days or bad weather we can seat up to 40 inside the winery in amongst the barrels.

Since we have had the oven we have experimented with various types of wood – red gum being the best for throwing out the most heat for a sustained length of time. But as we have a lot of vine trunks and arms this season from retraining one of the Pinot Noir blocks, I am now using these instead. Once alight they give out a lot of heat but we have to keep an eye on the oven as they burn quite quickly. Anyway it makes for an interesting story to say we fire our oven with vine trimmings!

We have also experimented with using thick bases, thin bases, par baked bases, pre made pizzas, and making our own. We have found the best combination to buy in par baked thin crust bases from a very good wood oven pizza restaurant and to then add our own toppings. Our base supplier makes enough bases for about 100 pizzas on a friday night and whatever he has left over he freezes and we collect them the following friday. At the moment this is working well but once things get busy we may have to work out another way of getting more. But we will still be getting them from him because they are so good!

So what do we use on top? For thin crust bases the received wisdom is “less is more”. A case in point is our popular gourmet meat lovers pizza. This is topped with our crushed tomato sauce made with fresh oregano & basil. We then add Skara Smallgoods sliced chorizo & proscuitto, diced smoked leg ham & a sprinkling of mozzarella. Then just 3 or 4 minutes in the wood oven, with a few turns to make it evenly cooked. It doesn’t need much time to cook as a well fired wood oven can be up to 300 degrees Centigrade! The result is a delicious wood oven pizza where the flavours are allowed to shine and a very satisying meal is to be had.

We are now doing wood oven pizzas every weekend from the beginning of November till ANZAC day (25 April)  from midday to 5.00pm, so next time you are in the Hills why not pop in and try one out! For groups please give us a ring a couple of days beforehand so we can make sure we have enough ingredients……and pizza bases! Ring the Cellar Door on 08 8389 5318 and leave a message if I am not in.

Cheers! James

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