Big Brother Meets Big Bill

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Big Kiwi Brother and his lovely wife are visiting us 🙂 They live across the wide wide ocean from us, and come visit about every other year. The previous time they visited, our intended pizza party became an indoor affair because the weather didn’t cooperate. The time before that, the Christchurch earthquake had just been, and there was a total fire ban. This time, they finally got to make their own pizzas and cooked them in Big Bill the clay oven themselves!

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Big Brother’s first pizza sadly turned into a sticky cheesy mess, and got mostly sacrificed to the pizza god. His second pizza however came out perfectly and he was very happy to have redeemed himself!

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It was great having our uncle and cousins also joining us on this sunny day. It’s just wonderful to have everyone together! Continue reading

Big Bill Pizza Time for Ma and Pa

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When Mom and Dad were staying with me over Chinese New Year, we fired up Big Bill the clay oven and had many long-time Taiwanese family friends over. The weather wasn’t the most cooperative, but we got a chance to set up the new gazebo in the back garden. Thankfully the on-and-off drizzle never amounted to much, and everyone got really into the whole pizza making business.

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Little Riley had a good time with Diego, and Diego was also very happy to keep by Riley’s side – kids are his best bets at getting food from, both intentionally and unintentionally by dropping food onto the ground 😉

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After the party retired into the house after dark, I started baking all the bread I prepared. Most of them were sourdough loaves I started in the morning. Continue reading

Thunderstorm Baking

Saturday was gorgeously sunny and hot, but with an afternoon forecast of thunderstorm, I thought it may not be the best idea to invite friends around for an outdoor wood-fired pizza evening. That didn’t stop me firing up Big Bill the clay oven though. I mixed up some sourdough in the morning, and Big Bill bread is just that much nicer than electric oven bread.

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I fired the oven up around 4pm. While Big Bill was getting hot, I made some pizza and focaccia dough, as well as shaped the sourdough loaves. Just when I made a giant pizza for Kiwi Bird and I for dinner around 6pm, rain started promptly.

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It wasn’t too much of a bother running in and out from the kitchen to relay bakings from Big Bill. The yummy wood-fried pizza was definitely worth it! (The rain never actually got very heavy.)

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Then 2 trays of fluffy focaccia baked for 20 mins at over 250C. Half of one also disappeared into our bellies promptly. Continue reading

Burning Away Autumn Gloom

After over a week of gloomy drizzle (which was very unusual for Christchurch), it was infinitely nice to wake up to sunshine on Easter Saturday! I had made some sourdough bread dough on the previous night, originally intended for baking in the indoor electric oven. With the sudden arrival of sunshine, I promptly changed the plan and fired up Big Bill the clay oven in the afternoon.

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Kiwi Bird and I enjoyed an early and leisurely dinner in the late afternoon sun until it set.

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One pizza really puffed up in Big Bill!

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Diego puss in boots was particularly keen on the smoked salmon pizza with cashews and brie. Continue reading

Sunny Sunday Baking Day

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X marks the treasure. This is how my fridge looked on Saturday.

I made 6Kg of sourdough bread dough on Saturday morning, with the plan to bake them in the evening in Big Bill my clay oven. But then I had to do some work in the afternoon, and by the time I finished work, it was 5:30pm and I got tired. I knew if I started the fire then, I’d not get into bed before midnight. So I rearranged my fridge, and was rather impressed with myself for getting 6Kg of dough into it.

On Sunday morning, I took all the dough out of the fridge to warm up before 10am, then started a fire in Big Bill close to 11am. Before we got into making pizzas for lunch (I made some pizza dough once the fire was going), I shaped the loaves and focaccia, and tucked them back into the fridge. It was a very sunny warm day, and I didn’t want the bread to over-prove. The blue bowl of ciabatta dough also went back into the fridge, because it was looking bubbly enough already.

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We made some yummy pizzas for lunch, just for Kiwi Bird and I.

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Continue reading

Caramelised Onion and Cheese Sourdough Bread

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This bread has an absolutely intoxicating smell. It is simply amazing! My favourite way to enjoy it is to have it on its own, because it really doesn’t need anything else to distract its wonderful flavour. But I imagine it’d also be absolutely amazing to have with a thick and creamy seafood chowder in winter.

I often stick a pot of sliced onions with a chunk of butter, and let it very slowly cook down (lid on) and caramelise in Big Bill my clay oven overnight. The result is melt-in-the-mouth caramelised onions which is imply wonderful for many uses. The onion renders its own juice being cooked with a lid on. This recipe calls for 2 cups of such caramelised onions in its own juice. If you do not have a clay oven, try sticking some onions into your oven next time you finished baking. Alternatively, you can melt a little butter on the stove top, then slowly cook 4 sliced onions down until they are absolutely soft.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of caramelised onions with its juice (This takes about 4 onions. Top with water to make 2 full cups if there aren’t enough juice.)
  • 3 cups high grade flour
  • 1 cup wholemeal flour
  • 1/2 cup sourdough starter
  • 1tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup cheese cubes roughly 1cm in size

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Here’s what I do: Continue reading

First Pizza Party in the Year of the Horse

My parents and my brother came and stayed with us over Chinese New Year. We had lots of catch ups with family friends, and of course, we fired up Big Bill the clay oven for a pizza party one day.

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My lilies ‘Corvara’ made a nice additional to the festivity of Chinese New Year.

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As everyone’s appetite gradually became over satisfied, Aunty Sophie introduced everyone to some cheesy dessert pizzas, which is apparently an American invention. Continue reading