Okay I may as well admit straight up that I haven’t actually hosted a DIY pizza party.
I may know my way around a Eurovision party with a sequined blindfold but a proper pizza party requires the proper pizza kit and I am not sure a wood-fired oven would fit on my balcony, even if I moved my flamingo.
It’s lucky that my second cousins have a bona fide wood-fired pizza oven and live just one suburb away. My cousins are part Italian and part Greek so everything that comes out of their kitchen is a perfect love child of Mediterranean flavours and technique. Naturally I jumped at the opportunity to be part of a family DIY pizza party hosted by these near-professionals.
I arrived to find the kitchen table topped with perfect pillows of dough positioned in neat lines. The home team had been busy proofing dough for days and worked up three different bases, including a sourdough base which went on to be the favourite of the day.
Each pizza base was slathered in a mixture of pureed tinned tomatoes, fresh basil and a touch of olive oil.
The DIY element meant that everyone brought their own selection of toppings and they covered almost every inch of the table.
We’re talking freshly shaved prosciutto, ham, ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese, salami, olives, marinated peppers, marinated artichokes, roasted pumpkin, caramelised red onions, mushrooms, char-grilled eggplant, fresh basil, rocket, anchovies and roasted beetroot.
Phew. And that was just for starters. One cousin had the genius idea of bringing tandoori-marinated chicken pieces to add to mango chutney and minted yoghurt. That was a stand-out combination.
As soon as we’d each made our masterpiece it was whisked outside to meet its fiery fate. My uncle has a knack for pulling the pizza out at the exact moment the dough hits that perfect char. Even when laden with enough toppings to put a Pizza Hut super supreme to shame (yes dad I’m looking at you!).
Whilst the breadth of toppings made for a fun surprise each time a new pizza was brought out, it was the base that stole the show every time. Billowy yet crispy. Just the right amount of chew with the lingering aromatics of smoke. The pizzas didn’t even make it to the carefully set table – each one was attacked from the air as we gathered eagerly around the island kitchen.
And what was my contribution to this pizza extravaganza? I knew the savoury offering would be extensive so my mind and stomach turned to a sweeter palate.
Some say Nutella pizza is total blasphemy (wasn’t it the Pope?). I say let your stomach guide you.
So there I was with a jar of the good stuff along with whole hazelnuts I’d roasted that morning, fresh strawberries and icing sugar for good measure.
This is where things became a little unstuck. After my cousin had rolled out a new piece of dough for me, I started to spread the softened Nutella on the base. At that point my uncle walked in and asked:
‘Isn’t that supposed to go on after we cook the base?’
‘I think it goes on first’, I replied, with the air of confidence of someone who has never actually made a Nutella pizza before but eaten plenty – surely that’s the same thing?
Well I’ll let the picture speak for itself. My pre-Nutella strategy was clearly way off. Luckily my uncle has a good sense of humour about these things and even refrained from saying ‘I told you so!’.
Once I had my game plan sorted we turned out a number of perfectly prepared Nutella pizzas which disappeared from the board as quick as a flash.
Hopefully my Nutella faux pas doesn’t black-list me from the next family pizza party!