Pizza, pizza, pizza. Who doesn't love it? But not all pizza is created equal. From the frozen supermarket variety that could double up as a frisbee to traditional wood-fired Neapolitan and new age American style, pizza takes many different forms, shapes, styles and textures. I have been playing about making pizzas the majority of my life which stemmed from my mother regularly holding 'pizza night' with homemade dough and every conceivable topping available for the family to make their own.
However, as great as home-made pizzas are compared to the shop bought ready-made variety they always come in second best to eating out at a pizzeria with a wood-fired oven. The problem being is that the conventional household oven cannot get beyond 250 degrees Celsius thus preventing the dough from puffing up and slightly charing which can only be acquired from the extreme heat of a pizza oven. It's these spots of slightly charred crust alongside a chewy yet crispy dough that is synonymous with traditional Neapolitan style pizza. Until now this problem wasn't easily solved unless you were happy to throw a few thousand pounds for a stand-alone wood-fired oven for the garden. Step up the Uuni 3.
The Uuni 3 is simply a portable wood-fired oven that runs on wood pellets fed into a hopper at the rear of the oven. A large chimney at the front draws the flames over the top of the pizza cooking the toppings and the stone, which the pizza cooks on, can reach temperatures of 500c which ensures a charred and puffy base and crust. This all adds up to a pizza that can be cooked in 60 seconds.
I was amazed at the Uuni 3's simplicity of use in that all you need to do is feed the pellets into the hopper at the rear, ignite and wait for around 20 minutes for the oven to heat. It would have been handy to have an instant-read thermometer to tell exactly what temp the oven reached but if you ensure the front door is closed and wait a full 20 minutes you can't go far wrong.
After 20 minutes of heating I made a simple margarita (recipe below), lightly dusted the peel with semolina and slid the pizza onto the stone. I was also careful to have the door open for as little time as possible. I turned the pizza after 30 seconds which as you can see was probably 10 seconds too late. Probably nitpicking but it was slightly too charred at one end so I turned the next pizzas 3 times in total every 20 seconds.
After using the Kettle Pizza for the past year I thought temperature control was going to be a similar issue. The Kettle took around 45 minutes to get up to temperature then dropped rapidly meaning you a limited window to cook in. You then had to lift the lid and refuel causing the heat to escape. No such problems with the Uuni. The oven has a bit of temperature adjustment at the hopper by adjusting the angle of pellet flow, faster flow=hotter oven. For the first pizza, I set the flow at it's slowest rate which worked perfect, so no further adjustment was needed.
The ingredients for the Margarita are as follows:
For the Dough
- 00 flour 500g
- 325ml Lukewarm water
- Dried bakers yeast 7g
- Demerara Sugar 2 Teaspoons
- Sea Salt 1 Teaspoon
- Extra Virgin Olive oil 1 Tablespoon
For the Tomato Sauce
- Chopped tomatoes 1 tin
- Garlic 3 cloves
- Fresh Basil
- Sea Salt 2 Teaspoons
- Cracked Black Pepper 1 Teaspoon
For the Toppings
- Italian mozzarella
- Grated Mature Cheddar
- Extra virgin olive oil 1 Tablespoon
- Fresh Basil
- Ensure you let the oven get up to temperature for at least 20 minutes.
- Do a trial pizza with the pellet feeder at its slowest flow position. Atmospheric temperature, pizza size, type of pellets, type of dough can all play a part in how the pizza cooks. I was very lucky in that mine worked perfectly first time although a bit of trial and error may be needed.
- Use a light dusting of semolina flour to cover the peel to ensure the pizza moves freely so it can easily slide into the oven.
- Ensure you turn the pizza every 20 seconds as the fierce heat at the back of the oven can cause the crust to easily burn.
- Keep the front door closed as much as possible.
The Uuni 3 is an exceptional product and not just for its price point of £199. Easy to use, no faffing about with temperature and perfect results with every pizza. Thanks to The Great Outdoors BBQ company in Moira for the trial, safe to say this unit won't be returning!
Check out their website at www.gobbqco.com