Can you make real pizza at home?
Authentic Neapolitan pizza is cooked in an oak wood-fired stone oven that can hit temperatures in excess of 500 degrees. No domestic oven can produce temperatures like that, so is it possible to produce authentic pizza at home?
Ronan Greaney ( below) of the Dough Bros thinks it is, but the secret is a pizza stone — a stone slab that you place in the oven in advance. “The secret is in the way heat is transferred into the base of the pizza in your oven. You need a pizza stone — Jamie Oliver sells some good ones, but a heat-resistant stone slab is all that’s really needed and you can get good results with one of those,” he says. “You need to whack the oven up to the hottest temperature and preheat the stone as hot as it will go. Other than that, it’s about the time and effort in making and resting a good dough.”
Alternatively, you can pick up partially baked bases in many supermarkets around the country, such as those made by the Artisan Pizza Company, which is run by Italian baker Gianpiero De Vallier and his Irish wife Cliona. These bases have won many awards and are made with just five ingredients — flour, water, sea salt, extra virgin olive oil and yeast.
“The secret to why they work so well is that we bake them on a stone at a high temperature for a couple of minutes, then cool and package them,” says Cliona De Vallier ( left). “So when you get them in the shops, they’re pre-baked. All you have to do is top them with sauce and cheese and you’re away.”
Stocked in Avoca, Dunnes, Super Valu and Tesco around the country, the bases have become hugely popular over the past few years. “It took a long time to get people onside, but the reason people buy them is because they work,” says Cliona. “They produce a pizza that’s as good as one made from scratch with none of the hassle of kneading and proving dough the traditional way.”