What is the secret of happiness? Great food of course or today I would actually say.. great pizza!
Being Italian I absolutely love pizza: every week I make my own, the children love it and for a fraction of the price of what you would pay in a pizzeria we are all satisfied and full up afterwards.
So, can you imagine my joy when I was approached to test a miniature version of a professional pizza oven which can reach the temperature of 450C! Most home ovens will only reach a temperature of approximately 300C or 570 F which is very good for baking cakes or cooking ordinary stuff but not for pizza which needs higher temperatures like 450C or 840 F.
When I received the “Optima Pizza Express Napoli“ oven I was very pleased to know that it is 100% manufactured in Italy, to be precise in Modena, and was designed by Gabriele Ferrari who is originally from Naples. I really love its stylish retro look.
The oven has two heating elements (bottom and top) and it will reach the temperature of 450C in 10 minutes. The base is made of refractory stone which will take away excess moisture from the dough making the bottom crisp. A refractory stone is the best way to cook a pizza as it is able to store and evenly distribute the heat on the entire surface of the pizza; also it can maintain a constant temperature even when the oven door/lid is opened.
I was also sent a few Italian ingredients with which to make my pizza base.
I started off by making the pizza dough using 500 grams (about 4 cups) of flour, the water, the yeast and the salt and I kneaded it for 15 minutes until it felt smooth and elastic. The dough rested for 45 minutes and then I divided it into 4 equal balls which I left to prove for a couple of hours covered by a cloth until they doubled in size.
My son enjoyed playing with the dough!
Using the middle of my fingers I pushed the edges and I made 4 round flat circles. Ideally you should try not to touch the edges to avoid pushing out all the air. The more air the pizza has the softer the final consistency will be.
After flouring the 2 wooden spatulas that came with the oven (which you need to place the actual pizza in the oven), I placed my round pizza dough on them. You need to make sure you flour them well otherwise the dough will stick to them and you won’t be able to slide them off easily into the oven.
Using the graduated knob I switched the oven on at 2 1/2 according to instructions. The red light came on. I waited 10 minutes for the oven to warm up at the right temperature.
In the meantime I spread the chopped tomatoes on the pizza (but you can also use tomato sauce) and drizzled it with a little olive oil. I don’t usually like to add salt on top of my pizza.
I made sure that the red light was still on (very important) before putting my pizza in the oven. This means that the two heating elements are still in operation and you need both to be on in order to cook the pizza.
I left the pizza in the oven for 3 minutes then I opened the lid and added the mozzarella. I lowered the lid and continued cooking it for a further 2 minutes. You can put all your topping on the pizza when you spread the tomato sauce but I don’t like overcooked mozzarella so I added it later.
After this time the pizza looked good. You can open the lid and check how you want it done. Some people like their pizza crust a little more cooked but you don’t want too cook it too much to avoid it becoming too hard. I found that approximately 5 minutes it is actually enough.
I removed my pizza onto a plate, put some basil on top and another drizzle of olive oil… and this was the result!
I must say.. I rather liked it!
Nice and rustic although I could tell how I should improve my dough making skills! My pizzas were clearly not perfectly round.. I need to spend a few more hours practising. I watched many You Tube videos about the art of pizza making and I find it fascinating how “pizzaioli” can make a perfect pizza in seconds! Will I ever get there??
I made the other pizzas adding different toppings. My favourite one will always be with olives and artichokes.
With this oven you can also prepare other things like focaccia or bread rolls too although it should not be something too big as there won’t be enough room for large bread loaves.
If you don’t have time to make a pizza from scratch this oven will also cook frozen ready made pizzas.
I think this oven will be good fun if you are having a party.
.. a pizza party in style!
You can find more information on the pizzaunited.co.uk website.
Pizza United offers a £ 10 discount to all my followers on each “Optima Pizza Express
Napoli” oven by quoting “MYLITTLEITALIANKITCHEN”.
The code is valid until 19th of January 2020.
I received the pizza oven for the purpose of a review. No payment was received and all opinions are my own.