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Pizza Party Like a Pro

How to create the perfect Pizza with friends and family

Nothing beats the flavour, freshness and fun of making pizza at home, and it’s also the perfect excuse to entertain. Sophie Farrah brings you Toast’s tasty guide to hosting your very own pizza party like a pro!



There is so much that I love about pizza, I don’t actually know where to start.

The soft chewy dough, tangy tomato sauce, crispy crusts dipped in garlic butter, and not forgetting the obligatory excess of melted cheese. I mean, who doesn’t love melted cheese? And of course there’s also the vast selection of mouth-watering toppings out there, making pizza the most versatile and satisfying dish, whatever your mood.

The modern pizza as we know (and love) it was invented in Naples, but appreciation of this Italian wonder dates all the way back to the 10th century; so it may be an oldie, but it’s definitely a goodie.

Throwing a pizza party is not only deeeelicious, but it’s super easy and most importantly - great fun. Whip up some dough, a simple but flavoursome tomato sauce and some creamy mozzarella cheese and you’re good to go. Ask your guests to bring their toppings of choice and watch as they create their very own pizza masterpiece. Cook, slice and share each pizza one by one, and don’t stop until everyone is full!

Your guests will love getting hands-on and creative with their food, and as host you won’t be stuck in the kitchen all night, giving you time to chat and enjoy yourself.

Perfect for fun with friends on a Saturday night, a pizza party can also be the ideal environment for introducing people to each other – whether its different groups of friends, family, new neighbours or even a singles night; the inventive DIY element is a great ice breaker and conversation maker, whilst slicing each pizza up and sharing it out creates a wonderfully informal atmosphere.

Pizza party perfection is all the preparation – so here is TOAST.LIFE’s guide to throwing a pizza party like a pro… 


What you’ll need

The Oven

First and foremost, you’ll need to choose just how you plan to cook your pizzas. These days there is a really good selection of pizza ovens available, ranging in price, style and function. Here are some of Toast’s favourites; 

The Pizza Stone

If you’ve already got a barbeque hiding somewhere in the garden then one of Weber’s Original Round Pizza Stones might be for you as it instantly transforms your BBQ into a fully functioning pizza oven. The stone simply sits on the top of your barbeque grill, using the intense heat from the charcoal to cook up a crispy pizza in no time. It comes in two sizes, so make sure that you check the size of your BBQ before ordering.  

WeberFrom Weber direct at a price of £32.99

The Portable Pizza Oven 

Both super fun and easy to use, the new Uuni 2S outdoor pizza oven is transforming al fresco cooking this summer. This cool piece of stainless steel kit runs entirely on affordable wood pellets which light instantly (no faffing around trying to light your charcoal) – 10 minutes later it can heat up to a whopping 500C, which means freshly cooked pizza in just 90 seconds! The speedy cooking makes it perfect for entertaining, and it’s portable, so you can take the pizza party with you wherever you go.

Uuni 20160127 7399

You can purchase the Uni Oven from Uuni.net at £199, inc. peel and pizza stone. 

Handmade in Stroud, The Chadwick Oven is a stunning piece of British design, celebrating both form and function. This polished oval-shaped oven is designed to sit on a hob, and can cook a pizza (as well as a variety of other breads) in under 4 minutes. It’s incredibly easy to use, all year round (which is a bonus), and it looks exceptionally good on your counter top too.

Chadwick 3

The Chadwick Oven can be purchased from Chadwick Oven direct and is also available in Harrods £385, inc. pizza paddle, stone, stand and shield.

Whilst one of these snazzy pizza-cooking contraptions will undoubtedly add your pizza party’s sense of occasion, you can also use your normal oven at home, if you’d prefer. For the best results you’ll need to buy a pizza stone to pop in your oven, which will give you a deliciously crispy base and ensure that your pizza cooks properly. Lakeland’s ceramic baking stone is perfect for pizzas and comes with a metal rack to rest the hot stone on when it comes out of the oven.

Waitrose Kitchen also do a smart cast iron pizza stone; it has a useful handle and its circular shape is perfect for pizza. Make sure that you check the dimensions of your oven before buying a pizza stone – to make sure it fits!

Stone

The Lakeland Ceramic Baking Stone is £16.30, from Lakeland

The Waitrose Kitchen Cast Iron Pizza Stone £20, from Waitrose Kitchen 

The Pizza Pros

For something completely unique for your guests, why not roll in the experts and get The Wood Fired Pizza Company to cater for your pizza party. These expert pizza pro's provide premium quality wood fired pizzas, served from their mobile event catering units across the UK.

The Pizza Project also offer delicious, authentic pizzas to you from their stone oven using traditional techniques using age old Italian Artisan technique when making dough across the south. The Rustic Crust serving delicious Neapolitan wood-fired pizza served out of a Landrover Defender truck.  

So, once you’ve selected your oven of choice…it’s time to talk pizza!

The Dough

Initially, the prospect of making my own dough terrified me, but actually it’s really easy. Honest. The most important thing is getting the temperature right (so that you don’t kill the yeast) so a digital thermometer (like the SuperFast Thermapen) does come in handy. Dough needs time to prove; you’ll need a minimum 1-2 hours, or if you can plan ahead then it’s best if you make it up the night before, as some say that cold proving in the fridge overnight adds more flavour. This simple recipe covers both, courtesy of pizza oven experts Uuni.

Once your dough is proved give each guest a ball and let the stretching commence. Remember to use a pinch of flour with each one to prevent any unwanted stickiness!

Uuni 20160128 7753

This great looking proving stack from Uuni  at £29.50 is also super usefull to help develop its flavours. No more covering your dough with bits of cling film or random plastic containers, the Uuni Stack allows you to prove dough effortlessly and beautifully.

Stack Tricolore

Garlic Bread

One or two garlic breads make a really delicious starter and will give your guests a taste of what’s to come! You can make the garlic butter in advance by mashing some butter with a few cloves of crushed, raw garlic. Smear a good amount over your rolled out pizza dough, a pinch or two of chopped rosemary plus some salt and pepper, et voila! Plus, any leftover garlic butter makes a seriously tasty dip for crusts…

If you’re feeling generous then offering a different selection of cheeses is an extra treat for your guests; Gorgonzola, ricotta and shaved Parmesan all work really well. Add a sprinkling of grated cheddar on top of your garlic breads make things ever cheesier….

It’s All About The Toppings

If you want to make it more interesting, get your guests to bring their own choice of toppings. You can put them all in the middle of the table and mix it up together. Get a whole bunch of small bowls to spread them out in and maybe provide some extras to make sure that you have plenty of the basics to go around. You can't go wrong with some quality salami and chorizo from Canon and Canon, some fresh peppers, rocket and  from your local greengrocers, spicy chicken, fresh olives, sun dried tomatoes and basil leaves. You can also bake courgettes to combine with fresh pesto made especially for you from Delicatezza.

For some great recipes take a look at Uuni to see their classic Italian Meatball recipe, their Caramelised Onion, Chestnut and Stilton Pizza and their asparagus, sweet potato and Feta pizza, all mouth-wateringly delicious. 

Cheese is of course key, and last year for the first time Last year, a mathematician devised a formula for the 'perfectly proportioned' pizza, taking into account factors like the ratio of topping to base. Dr Eugenia Cheng concluded that cheddar, colby and edam can be combined with the easily blistering mozzarella to create a gourmet pizza with optimal stringyness and flavour. 

Select a range of interesting oils to drizzle over your pizza and add a little extra flavour. We love the incredibly exciting selection of infused oils from Scarlett and Mustard. From simple chilli and garlic oils, to more adventurous smoked oils and they will add another dimension to your pizza flavours. 

And don’t forget a big bowl of tomato sauce (passata) for the base. Shop-bought versions are usually pretty good (look for cartons or bottles of passata sauce) but it’s also really easy and sometimes much tastier to make from scratch. All you need is a tin of good quality plum tomatoes, a clove of garlic, and a pinch or two of sugar to add sweetness. Give it all a quick blitz in the blender or food processor, season with salt and pepper to taste, and you’re done! 

If you want to add a little extra flavour, try Andrea Migliaccio’s passata of San Marzano tomatoes with buffalo ricotta and pesto recipe, just use the ricotta to dress the Pizza instead - truly delicious. 

Be Origional

Think outside of the pizza box and surprise your guests with all of the ingredients to create a sweet pizza for dessert! All you need are some fruity, chocolaty toppings to create a master piece to your taste. Not feeling inspired? Grab a handfull of strawberries, some clotted cream and melted dark chocolate to create a tasty strawberry topping for your cooked pizza base. Or try the Blackberry pizza with ricotta, pistachios and honey from Uuni, all you need is a punet of blackberries, a handful of pistachios,  honey a cup of ricotta and your pre-cooked pizza dough of course. 

Blackberriesricotta Uuni

To Serve

Lay a table with the bowls of all your fresh ingredients, leaving a few empty ones out for all the toppings that your guests will bring. Make sure you leave a bit of space for dough stretching and pizza ‘dressing’. One by one let each guest create their own pizza and pop it in the oven; once cooked slice it up, ask each guest to name their pizza and pass it round the party, explaining their topping choices as they go.

For the perfect presentation, get your guests to make their pizza's and serve them on a selection of large serving boards. This Italian birchwood pizza peel  from the Sous Chef is the classic one that you can also use to transfer pizzas to and from the oven. The tapered edge of the wooden pizza peel makes moving pizza, breads and pastries stress-free.  We also like these classic round pizza serving boards from James Design, £55

James Design Pizza Board 2

For something that adds a little style and colour to your table, these Clyde serving boards from Nester & Nomad are fantastic tableware statement pieces. Handmade from solid oak they're versatile and funky.  Each food serving platter is a completely one-off design, handmade and hand-painted. They look absolutely fabulous as a table centrepiece, and will instantly make even the most simple table exciting. Perfect for pizza platters, available from Notonthehighstreet for £60.00. 

Original Walnut Serving Board

To cut your masterpizzes...(see what we did there)... The Perfect Pizza board by Studio Haran with its solid wood base is available in a range of timbers rapped with a marine grade stainless steel rim to hold your pizza steady and guide your stress free precision cutting. When you're done with your pizza cutting, you can alaso flip the board over and it works brilliantly as a round chopping board. The accompanying knife is handmade with its edge honed to a sharp finish and the handle carved to fit both hands comfortably.

Studioharan

How to eat?

Eat with your fingers – it's way more fun… just have some handy napkins at the ready! These 100% cotton novelty pizza napkins from Zazzle will add a little bit of fun to the evening. 

If you do want to serve your pizza's plated, then these authentic, vintage style pizza plates from Nucasa's Dine In collection is perfect and will finally stop you trying to squeeze a whole pizza on a dinner plate! With one extra-large plate for your pizza and four smaller slice plates you can eat pizza in style!

Buon appetito!

 

TOAST TIP

Want to add a sprinkling of healthy competition to the party? Why not have prize for best pizza of the night? Once the final pizza has been enjoyed, get your guests to cast their vote by a show of hands and reward your pizza pro with a bottle of wine, or small gift to take away with them.

 

Posted in Inspire Me

by Sophie Farrah
on on 10 August 2016

  pizza party

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