Its time for homemade pizza heaven! Not that this was the primary reason for buying a 57cm Weber BBQ but it was a close second.
What do we have & First Impressions.
A picture paints a thousand words and what you see above is what you have, a small lid with a base that sits on top of your Weber (after removing the cooking grill). Its made of the same enamled steel that the BBQ is made from and has a 2 cm thick cooking stone which sits inside a hollowed out section. When unboxing and you can’t see the stone, don’t panic, its located in cardboard underneath the main shell which gives it plenty of protection.
Setup & Use.
There is a learning curve with this and part of that is getting it up to temperature, the BBQ itself uses a lot of briquettes (better than lump wood as you need the heat and longer cooking time). The first time I used it I hadn’t used enough of anything to produce the heat needed so cooking times were slow, by the 3rd time I had perfected it – pretty much 8Kg of briquettes gave me the heat I needed, 20 minutes or so for the briquettes to go grey and then another 15 minutes for the stone to heat up.
Homemade dough is better than any pre-made bases, they will cook too quickly and become like cardboard. There is a Weber pizza dough receipe out there and we used a slight variation of this (no sugar) and that worked really well, the other night I managed 8 large pizzas from the dough, all rose well and cooked very nicely.
I have a generic cake paddle which works very well as a pizza paddle, just remember that you need to flour this not oil it, I found using semolina on the paddle and then transferring the pizza to it meant it didn’t stick and the semolina also kept it from sticking to the pizza stone – now something I did differently to Weber was rather than cook, turn 180 degrees and cook, I cooked, turned 90 degrees, cooked, turned 90 degrees, cooked, turned 90 degrees and then served, I felt it gave a better even cook and nothing ended up too cooked.
Storage is easy, once everything is cool just place the lid from the BBQ on top and its self storing.
Its a great way of cooking healthier, tastier pizzas than either the supermarket or Pizzahut, yes its not as convienient as either of the above but for a group or family its brilliant and based on Pizzahut pizza costs its nearly paid for itself and it wasn’t cheap at £149 from John Lewis. (You can see that only a handful of Pizzahut pizzas will cost this much).
You also need a 57cm BBQ to use this on, not sure if it would work on a non Weber but if the size is the same I can’t see why not.
Update – 15/05/2016
BBQ season is here once again and the first BBQ happened to be a pizza BBQ – now a word of warning, I decided to start the BBQ off with charcoal and add several chunks of seasoned wood for that wood fired pizza oven effect. It didn’t work! The design of the oven directs all the smoke over the pizza which makes it too smokey, I’ll leave the wood for the actual wood fired pizza ovens and just throw a little bit of wood in the mic for that smokey flavour.
But here was one of the 4 pizzas I made.
Update – 02/06/2016
Fired up the pizza oven again but failed miserably, I can’t seem to get it hot enough for a sustained period – the smallest bit of breeze and the heat drops off. The wood certainly gave heat but too much smoke, charcoal (briquettes or lumpwood) don’t seem to give enough heat once that top goes on, its like there isn’t enough air flow getting to them.
I’m thinking, maybe a couple of small vents to help smoke escape and maybe a couple of air vents to allow more air to enter the base, maybe I’ll see if I can install a couple of the weber air vents so they can be closed if needed.
Update – 25/06/2016
After speaking to the local wood suppliers they suggested I try some beech based wood blocks, these should burn hotter and last longer, well today I did just this, along with a couple of 25mm air holes at the front of the base of the weber it made a massive difference, cooking temps were sitting on 350C and pizzas cooked in less than 3 minutes – just what you’d expect from a decent pizza oven!
Update – 15/08/2016
I’ve been playing, quite a lot actually as I was fed up of the wind taking away my heat and smoke being generated when I added the pizza oven onto the BBQ…….out came the tools.
We have 4 lots of the 25mm holes in the fron the the lower half of the Weber, this allows some extra air without it whipping around.
The dome…..one thing I noticed was the drop off when you opened the dome to take off your cooked pizza, on a windy day you could lose your heat. So off came the dome (3 bolts at the back and it comes off), then out came the angle grinder and a nice wide entrance was cut in the original top of the Webber, then smoothed off and finally bolted to the lower part of the pizza oven.
What does this mean? Well I can lift off the whole of the top for easy access to the lower part of the bbq and add my wood, I can now use a few logs with no smoke so no issues with heat, and I can use a full size pizza paddle to get to my pizzas with no heat drop off. Still get my 350C cooking temps but I have an oven that looks more like an oven and is much easier to light and use. It does mean I can’t really use it as a bbq with a lid but as I decided to make this into a handy pizza oven, its not an issue!
I’ve also found its great for cooking bacon, stick some on a foil plate and slide it in with the paddle – crispy bbq’d bacon!