Balmy Autumn Pizza Night

The evening before Kiwi Big Brother and his lovely wife flew out across the ocean, we grabbed the chance and fired up Big Bill the clay oven and ‘played pizzas’ again. It was a very warm and balmy night, making it all the more pleasant to be enjoying pizzas and hanging out in the back garden with Big Bill.




Big Brother got really good at shoving pizzas in and out of Big Bill, and down the mouth. Somehow that did not seem to have any impact on how much he talked ūüėČ


Diego the puss in boots watched the pizzas with very hopeful gaze, despite the vegetarian selection for the night. Continue reading


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. Continue reading

Epic Pizza Time

It’s been very hot and dry ever since Christmas. Thankfully the urban fire ban does not include pizza ovens, so we could still have awesome Big Bill pizzas.


Jenny took this little clip of the fire dancing in Big Bill – isn’t it cool?


We had quite a few friends turning up on this hot and sunny day.


We started off making a classy smoked salmon pizzas with dill and red onions. 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.


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


One pizza really puffed up in Big Bill!


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

Sunny Sunday Baking Day


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.


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


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.


  • 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


Here’s what I do: Continue reading