We have a winner!

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Pizza is famous the world over and comes with the most basic toppings like the original Neapolitan Pizza Margherita with tomato sauce, basil and cheese to luxury toppings such as caviar and foie gras. However, no matter how you like your pizza, simple and delicious or elaborately gourmet, the basics for a great pizza don’t change; a wood-fired pizza oven, very high heat, yeasty dough, great toppings and a healthy appetite! Pizzas don’t only come flat either, they can be topped and then folded over to make an Italian Calzone or Panzarotti.

Even topped, rolled up and then baked to make an American Stromboli. These days pizza comes in so many forms as well, deep-dish, stuffed-crust and pizza bites to name a few and no matter how you slice it, pizza is undoubtedly one of the most popular foods there are.

Simply delicious! Pizza Margherita from the pizza capital of the world. Click for the recipe.

Smoked salmon pizza with fresh dill and sour cream. Click for the recipe.

Our Fornetto mini-pizza stone competition came to a close a couple of weeks ago and we would like to thank everyone for submitting their recipes and photos. We would also like to congratulate our top three participants for their creative efforts, they will all be receiving a set of our Fornetto mini-pizza stones.

Terresa Emo from Ontario, Canada takes third place with her chocolate chip and orange dessert mini-pizzas and Kim Davies of Warwickshire, England comes in as runner-up with her seafood quiche tartlets. There are however times when not only a great recipe counts but the commitment one makes towards winning. Our first place winner, takes his recipes very seriously and is an avid user of the Fornetto wood-fired oven. Not only did he submit a tasty entry but has WOW’d us at Fornetto with his dedication to outdoor cooking and his love of wildlife photography. Mr. Piet Venter of Kimberley, South Africa takes the cake with a decadent three meat, two cheese, saucy pizza topped off with a special South African ingredient……..the Peppadew® (Capsicum Baccatum), now available internationally.

Mr. Piet Venter’s winning pizza recipe. Click to see more.

Mr. Venter is a retired mechanical engineer that worked in the mines of the Northern Cape for the past 25 years and who now resides in Kimberley, the diamond capital of the world, about 450Km (280 miles) from Johannesburg. It’s not hard to see that his hobbies are cooking and photography with particular attention to nature and wildlife. To ensure that he can use his Fornetto wood-fired oven whenever he pleases given any weather condition, he’s built a lapa (a South-African structure that consists of a thatched roof that’s supported by wooden poles. Lapas are commonly used as semi-open entertainment areas similar to that of a gazebo). He’s installed the Fornetto in the lapa with a brick chimney for smoke ventilation as seen in the photographs. “I am very happy with the results from the Fornetto and enjoy using it very much!” he proclaims.

Inside Mr. Venter’s lapa is his built-in Fornetto wood-fired oven and smoker. This is a serious man when it comes to outdoor cooking!

Ever wonder how a pizza gets to you so quickly in a pizzeria with a wood-fired oven?

High heat is key to cooking a great pizza, in fact the True Neapolitan Pizza Association (Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana, AVPN) states that it must be cooked in a stone oak-fired pizza oven at 905°F (485°C) for no longer than one to one and a half minutes. Ceramic pizza stones replicate the floor (cooking area) of the real Roman dome style wood-fired oven where the heat is off to one side and the floor becomes extremely hot, cooking a thin crust pizza without burning it in a matter of seconds.

Some people prefer the use of a pizza pan or combination of a pizza pan and a pizza stone and get great results, where I on the other hand prefer to cook pizza directly on the stone. The choice is really up to you. What isn’t up to you however is the heat.

High-heat is key to cooking great pizza. With very high heat the dough cooks quickly on the outside while retaining moisture on the inside, this is what makes a great pizza crispy on the outside, tender on the inside and deliciously fragrant.

By burning pure hardwood or a mixture of hardwood and lump hardwood charcoal (such as Fornetto’s Premium Lump Charcoal), I manage to bring the temperature inside the Fornetto to the 662°F (350°C) mark and my pizzas cook in about three minutes directly on the pizza stone.

YOU’RE IN FOR A TREAT. ENJOY!

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