Big Bill gets Hot for Chinese New Year

On the weekend, I got Big Bill the clay oven fired up and piped out 6Kg of bread and 3 big pots of stew ready for my family visiting over Chinese New Year.


I fired up Big Bill around 11am, and made some pizzas for Kiwi Bird and I for lunch. We kept the pizzas simple, just topping them with home grown tomatoes and basil, with some grated cheese and feta.


We had a leisurely lunch followed by a little dessert pizza made with cherry jam, rum and raisin chocolates, cashews and bananas.


I made 4 different kinds of dough around noon on the previous day. I let them rise until nearly double, then put them into the fridge over night. In the morning, I took them out around 10am and shaped them. Around 2pm, I swept the embers out of Big Bill and loaded it with 2 slabs of sourdough focacce. I made them half the thickness as usual, so they are less than 2cm thick, which will be perfect as appetisers or snacks.



Around 2:30pm, I then loaded Big Bill with 4 sourdough ciabatta, which Dad loves, along with 2 loaves of the orange peel and rosemary bread I’m currently in love with. The ciabatta came out after 30 mins, but I left the orange peel bread in for a further 15 minutes because each loaf weighs twice as much.


Then 2 loaves of caramelised onion and cheese bread were baked for an hour.


Finally, I put a pot of herbal chicken soup into Big Bill when the temperature dropped to around 120C. The herbal chicken soup was primarily meant for our Kiwi Sister who just brought our first nephew into this lovely world :). This herbal soup used a lot of ginger and dark sesame oil, plus some herbs including goji berries, which are known to help recovery after child birth. I wasn’t sure if she’d like it, because it has a pretty distinct taste. I was very happy to learn she loved it, and so did the rest of the family! Looks like I’ll be making a much bigger pot soon.


Along with the chicken, the original reason I fired up Big Bill for was this slow-cooked pork hocks intended for this year’s Chinese New Year’s Eve dinner. It’s not yet New Year’s Eve, but my family who arrived this afternoon of course wanted to have some already. The pork hock was tender and melted in the mouth, thanks to having spent a whole day under Big Bill’s gentle heat. I used a traditional flavour this time – soy sauce, ginger, spring onions, start anise, and Sichuan peppers. Tomorrow we will share this with some family friends, and I can’t wait for a great night celebrating into the new year!

Happy Chinese New Year peeps! 🙂



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