Gourmet Backyard Fire Pit Pizza
Simply Amazing Gourmet Backyard Fire Pit Pizza
I’ve made lots of pizzas over the years and completely from scratch but last year I created the best pizza I’ve ever eaten. My husband and I named it the Raycock’s Gourmet Backyard Fire Pit Pizza!
It all started when we bought an outdoor fire pit that was equipped with a cooking shelf. The shelf is round and we quickly realized it would accommodate our pizza stone. So we planned that the next weekend we’d try cooking a pizza on the fire pit.
We bought all the toppings we like on our pizza including salami, onions, mushrooms and fresh basil, along with the ingredients to make a lovely pizza base from scratch.
Pizza Base Recipe
There’s lots of recipes for the pizza base and I honestly don’t have one I prefer over the other so here’s the basic recipe that will work nicely….
- 300g strong bread flour
- 200ml warm water
- 1 tsp instant yeast (from a sachet or a tub)
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp olive oil
In a large bowl, add the flour and salt and mix well. Add the yeast to the jug with the warm water measured out and stir a little. This activates the yeast. After about a minute, add 1 tbsp of the olive oil to the water/yeast mixture and mix. Make a well in the centre of the flour and pour in the liquid.
With a wooden spoon – or a mixer with a dough hook – mix the ingredients together until a nice dough forms. If you’re using a mixer with a dough hook then let the mixer do its job and knead the dough for about 5 minutes, if not then lightly sprinkle some flour on a flat surface and turn out the dough. Knead the dough by hand for about 5 minutes.
In a clean large bowl, add about a tablespoon of olive oil and wipe around the entire bowl so it’s well coated. Once your dough has been kneaded and moulded into a nice round ball, put it in the oiled bowl and cover with cling film and leave to prove for about an hour. The dough will at least double in size and will be ready to use after it has proved.
Making the Pizza
Once your dough is ready, it’s time to flatten it out. You can either use a rolling pin to do this or just flatten by hand. Don’t worry about it being perfect. I find it easiest to flatten it out to the size and shape I want directly on the pizza stone. The dough will shrink back a little so make sure you completely stretch it to the edge and even a little over. It’s also good to make a little lip around the perimeter to make a nice crust. This also helps prevent over spill.
There’s lots of options when it comes to sauce for the base. I like to use the usual tomato sauce but you can add just olive oil or even an Alfredo sauce. I typically buy a nice jar of spaghetti sauce to use on the base. Don’t skimp here as the sauce can make or break your pizza, spend a little extra choosing a nice spaghetti sauce. Don’t spread the sauce too thick or your base will be soggy, less is more when it comes to making a pizza.
Again, there are lots of different types of cheese you can put on your pizza and you don’t have to add just one kind. Experiment with different cheeses to see what you like best. I like to buy a good quality buffalo mozzarella but if you can’t find or just want it ready grated that’s fine, just buy the best quality you can. If you have whole mozzarella then slice or grate it and spread evenly over the pizza sauce. Mozzarella doesn’t have a lot of flavour so I like to add a little grated Parmesan to the cheese topping. Don’t overdo the cheese, remember – less is more when it comes to pizza toppings.
Try and make all your toppings bite size as they cook better and are easier to eat. If you’re using the toppings I like then spread out the salami first then top with the onions and mushrooms. Don’t over load the pizza because the dough won’t cook properly if you do. You’ll note that I haven’t added the fresh basil at this stage, that’s because it doesn’t need to cook with the pizza, this is best added as soon as the pizza comes out of the oven. Once you’ve added your ingredients you can sprinkle with a little more cheese like Parmesan and even season with a little salt and pepper but don’t overdo it.
Stoke up the fire
While you’re topping the pizza it’s a good idea to get the fire going so it’s nice and hot. We use any wood we can find, you’re not looking for a BBQ smoking wood for this purpose. If you have the nice tall chimney style fire like we have then raise up the shelf as high as it will go. If you start with the pizza down by the fire then the edges of your pizza will burn. Slow and steady is good here unlike cooking in your oven. We experimented with putting the pizza down low but the crust just burned and the top didn’t cook. By putting the shelf up high, the heat that collects at the top can help cook the top of the pizza while there’s plenty of heat coming from below. Having a good thick pizza stone is key here as it controls the heat from the fire really well.
Once the fire is established, put the pizza on the shelf and sit back and watch it cook. As the toppings cook and the top of the dough you could lower the shelf slightly but be careful not to let it burn. Lift up the base from time to time to make sure the base isn’t burning. A slight charcoal finish to the crust just adds to the taste but burnt is not good of course. The pizza might take 20-25 mins to cook so don’t panic it’s taking a while but it really depends on your fireplace so just remain patient and keep checking the crust for doneness, that’s the most important part to make sure is cooked all the way through. If you’re in doubt at all then take the pizza out of the fireplace and have a thorough look, you can easily put it back and let it cook some more.
Take a look at these pictures of the pizzas we’ve cooked so far, they look amazing, right? We have decided that these pizzas were easily the best pizzas we’ve ever had. For very little effort, you have a great pizza that is fun to share with friends and a bottle or two of wine.