Thursday, January 25, 2007

Hot as a Pizza Oven

Yesterday everyone on the radio was talking about the heatwave - 35 degrees C in Cape Town but out here in the wheat country 30 mins from Cape Town it was 41C / 108F degrees. Sweltering. In this weather our straw bale house is wondrous, it keeps out the worst of the heat, but by no stretch of the imagination could the inside temperature be described as cool. In a moment of utter lunacy (my brain obviously affected by the heat), from the sanctuary of the swimming pool, I decided to cook us pizza for supper. This decision was made on the strength of what ingredients there were in the larder (not much, as I had failed to go shopping that afternoon) rather than on considerations of heat and energy being exuded into an already heady atmosphere. Of course once the promise of pizza reached the kids there was no going back. I struggled out of the balmy water of 29C/84F degrees, so nearly bath like, and up the sandy hill to the house, wondering just which connections of my brain weren’t fully firing.

At six in the evening the house was still cooler than outside and opening doors would only let in a hot wind. So I shut myself in and got the dough going, realised we had no bread for tomorrow either, so flour and sweat mingled as the bakery went into action. In the heat the pizza dough rose extra fast, so I had to keep knocking it down until I’d made the tomato sauce. Extremely reluctant to turn on the oven with all the doors closed and sacrifice the last vestiges of cool in the house, I left it as late as possible. So it was that we found ourselves eating pizza on the stoep as dusk fell and the breeze attained a marginally cooler temperature. Bedtime was far too late for a school night but when it is this hot some things just have to give a little.

Pizza Recipe

Great for heating up your kitchen on a cold winter’s night!

The Dough
Makes two thin crust 23cm pizzas

200g/7oz flour
15 ml/ 1 tablespoon instant yeast
2 ml/ ½ tablespoon sugar
125ml/ ½ cup warm water
1 ml salt
15 ml/ 1 tablespoon sunflower oil

Mix together the yeast, water and sugar and let stand till it froths. Stir it into the flour and salt, then mix to a stiff dough. Add the oil and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic. Cover the bowl and leave the dough to rise for about twenty minutes until it has doubled in size. Knock down and divide into two pieces. Roll out each piece to about 23 cm in diameter and put onto a lightly oiled baking sheet. Leave for 2 minutes before adding the toppings. Bake for 20 minutes at 200C / 400F.

I usually do one garlic pizza, just spreading 2/3 tablespoons good olive oil on the pizza and sprinkling chopped garlic and salt over it. The rest I put a thick fresh tomato sauce on, grated mozzerella and bacon, spinach or salami as those are the flavours of the moment. I usually have to double or triple this recipe to feed this family and cook the pizzas in relays.


  1. Sorry you're having such a hot time. Weird that it's turning freezing here at exactly the same time.

    We were invited to friends at the height of midsummer and had a homemade pizza. We had a delicious but rather sweltering meal, so I know how you felt last night!

  2. Thank you for including the recipe!

    I've tried several pizza recipes over the past year or so, and this one will definitely be next.

    Does it get crisp at all? Or at least firm? The only recipe I've tried so far that calls for such a short rising time comes out so soft that the pieces are actually kind of floppy.

    Also, about how long do you find it needs to be kneaded in order to attain the proper texture?

    Hmmm...we haven't had pizza for at least a week. Maybe tonight's the night!

  3. It does get crisp, sometimes too crisp if it gets forgotten for five minutes too long in the oven. About 8 minutes ish in kneading I think

  4. This sounds wonderful Kit! And I do FEEL your pain of having to swelter in that kind of heat. It dulls the appetite. But this pizza looks yummy...and warming my kitchen sounds very nice. ( Temps this week in the single digits, ouch!) I love garlic too...Try to stay cool...I also love to read about your straw bale is very intriging! Dh wants to build one.

  5. Made it last night! I think I need to do a better job of dressing it next time - it got late and I cut some corners - but the crust itself was very nice.

    Considering that I had to convert from grams to cups for the flour and from milliliters to teaspoons for the salt, multiply everything by 1.5 and then adjust for high altitude...I would have been satisfied with just about anything that held the cheese up!

    But this did much more than that, and once I finish fine tuning the amounts, I could see it becoming my primary pizza recipe, so thanks again!

  6. Thanks for the pizza recipe!

    Last summer in California it hit 54°!! We could have cooked the pizza on the cement!


Thanks for your comments - I appreciate every one!