Cassius is going from strength to strength. The summer rain and sun has widened his cracks, but he doesn't care. We've tried to add coats of protective clay but he isn't interested. He just shrugs them off and demands to be used. If we cook in the Aga he starts sulking like a moody teenager. Our efforts in Cassius to date have been great. But we are constantly trying to improve our technique.
So in preparation for a party in Somerset, I bought a cast iron rectangular skillet to act as a DIY pizza stone. So far we've been using upturned baking trays, but in light of the fact that we have ruined 3 of Cowie's parents' pans, I thought it would be worth the small investment.
The other area we've been keen to improve on is the dough. We've been following a Jamie Oliver recipe that demands semolina flour, but have always cheated and used plain flour. The bases have been tasty but lacking the authentic bubbles that you get at places like Franco Manca. So we visited At the Chapel in Bruton who have a pizza oven and to our delight they gave us not only a bag of their semolina but also a small pot of their sourdough starter! To say that I was excited would be the understatement of the century. (More on "Simon the Sourdough Starter" another time)
The combination of using dough made with semolina and the cast iron "pizza stone" resulted in our best pizzas yet. The skillet got so hot in the embers that it had the pizza base dancing and bursting. The pizzas cooked in around 3 minutes flat and tasted of Napoli!
A simple parma ham and mushroom pizza kicked Christened the new skillet...
The "La Reine", excusing the lack of olives, put Pizza Express's version to shame.
A plain, tomato and mozzarella pizza was simply brilliant. Some torn basil and a twist of black pepper had us shouting with greedy delight.
And a fully loaded beast with mushrooms, sun dried tomatoes and chilli that we've named "Arnie".
Our Eggy Pizza was a triumph as well. The yolk oozed across the plate and acted as a fantastic dipping sauce.
Cassius is loving life. He's just getting better and better. The combination of semolina and skillet has made a huge difference to the bases. They've become much lighter and are developing the bubbles we've been hankering after. For our next trick we're going to make our bases using "Simon the Sourdough Starter" that we're lovingly nurturing... If you've got any suggestions for awesome toppings let us know.
We still love to go on trips around the UK, staying in BnBs or camping in search of a good meal or two - hence, Around Britain with a Paunch. Quite often the trips have been prompted by Diana Henry's Gastro Pub Cookbook. Here's where we've been to: