Monday, September 13, 2010

A Slice of Italy - Our Wood-burning Pizza Oven

Today I am going to take you along at our home
for a pizza party.  In my last post I showed you
our remodeled kitchen and said that our favorite
item was the wood-burning pizza oven imported
by Mugnaini from Italy.

Our family had been having make-your-own pizza parties
for a long time using a pizza stone in the oven, so this
was a natural for us to graduate to this wonderful pizza

When we went to our cooking class in Tuscany, it was made up of
all owners of this brand of pizza oven.  We were the only
ones who had installed it in the house.  The others all had
it for seasonal use outside.

It can get a little hot during the summer, but we just turn
the air conditioner down a few degrees and it works
out great.

Like a pizza stone in your oven, the pizza oven has to be heated
for a long time.  I begin by building a fire about 2 1/2 hours
before I plan on serving the pizza.  I also mix up my dough
then so that it can have 2 risings.

About 6 months after we had our pizza oven installed we went
to a class in California on how to use our pizza oven.  It was
a one day class held by Andrea Mugnaini, owner of Mugnaini
(pronounced moon-ya-een-ie).
We had been letting the dough rise and having people pull off
the size of dough ball they wanted.  They taught us that it
was much better to shape the dough into balls and then let
them rise a second time, then to hand-stretch the dough balls
into pizzas.  This kept the air bubbles in the dough and created
a much better crust.

The second rising takes between 30 and 45 minutes, so it is
perfect while you are setting our your ingredients for the
make-your-own pizza bar.

(When my husband previewed this post he said to tell you
that he had made the dough balls and that I would have
made nice round ones!  Who is going to complain when
he helps so much.  He also stand at the pizza oven and
does most of the baking.)

We place the ingredients going around the island, starting with
dough balls, and flour to dust the pizza peels with.
Everyone shapes their own pizza crusts then moves on for
sauces and toppings.

Fresh tomatoes from the garden this time of year,

Also a fresh bruschetta sauce with red and yellow tomatoes,

And a variety of prepared sauces, from left to right -
salsa, Thai peanut sauce and pizza sauce.
We usually include BBQ sauce, Caesar Dressing, and
pesto as other optional sauces for the base of your
pizza.  Most people make more than one and try
out several sauces.

Then come the meats including grilled chicken, sausages, pepperoni,
shrimp, canadian bacon, prosciutto and ham.
Our meno varies every time.

Before we top it off with a variety of cheeses, we generally offer
mushrooms, pine nuts, peanuts, fresh basil, fresh cilantro,
caramelized onions, artichoke hearts and whatever other goodies
we might be having that day.

I prefer to come back and put the fresh herbs on after cooking,
but some like them cooked on.

(This is a BBQ chicken pizza with fresh corn.)

Then its off to the oven where hopefully the guest has put
enough flour on the pizza peel so that it slides off onto
the hot oven flour. 

The coals have been pushed to the back of the oven and the
oven floor has been swept with a metal brush.  The floor
of the oven is now about 650 - 700 degrees and the
dome of the oven about 1200 degrees.  It is important to
keep a log burning to create the overhead heat to melt
the cheese.

The individual pizzas are about 8 - 10 inches across so you can
cook quite a few at a time.

Cooking time is usually less than 2 minutes - so super fast.

We use a long-handled pizza peel to retrieve the pizzas from the
oven.  The crust has puffed and is crisp on the bottom, the
cheese is melted and everything is so hot and delicious.
You never get a pizza this hot and crispy from a restaurant.

Time to go back and try another variety - this one is a Thai Chicken
Remember the old Lay's Potatoe Chip commercial - "no one can
eat just one."  That's how our pizza parties are.

Just when everyone can barely move, my husband breaks out the
ingredients for dessert pizzas.  He generally makes them, cuts
them into tiny bite size pieces (so you can fit one more bite in)
and hand serves them to the crowd. 

We usually use a frosting or a curd for the base, then top with
chocolate chips, marshmallows, nuts, etc., bake and
finish off with fresh fruit such as raspberries, strawberries,
and bananas.  You can drizzle chocolate, caramel or fruit sauce
on top as the final touch.

This one is lemon curd topped with white chips and then
finished with fresh raspberries.

Hurry and grab a piece before they are all gone!

This one is a coconut pecan frosting topped with pecans,
chocolate chips and white chips.

The same pizzas can be done at home with a pizza stone.
Be sure that you preheat the stone at 500 for an hour and
a half.  Don't cheat on this.  This is what makes the crust

We were using the crust recipe from the California Pizza
Kitchen cookbook which has a little sugar and oil, but
at Mugnaini kitchens they advised that the oil and sugar
make the crust burn easier in this hot of an oven.
This recipe comes from Mugnaini Kitchens

Pizza Crust Recipe

4 C. flour
2 tsp. yeast dissolved in 1/2 C. water
2 tsp. salt
1 1/4 C. warm water

Mix all of the above in your mixer with dough hook and
let knead for about 5 minutes. 
I use SAF yeast and so I don't dissolve the yeast first
in warm water, I just place the yeast and the full
amount of water (1 3/4 C.) into the mixing bowl first.
 Spray the dough with Pam and cover with plastic wrap to
let rise, about 1 1/2 hours, until double.
Shape into round dough balls, spray with Pam and let
rise for 30-45 minutes or until doubled.
Don't roll the dough, hand shape it.

We have served up to 70 pizzas in one evening.  We have 8
pizza peels and everyone just visits while waiting their
turn to create and bake their pizza.

Hope you try a pizza party in your home soon.

When we took our cooking class in Tuscany, Italy, we made
everything in these ovens, breads, cookies, meats, fish,
vegetables, using methods from broiling, baking, slow
roasting to grilling on the hot coals. 

At home we have done roasted turkeys, grilled meats,
lasagne, breads, slow roasted meats, everything but
dessert, which I will try baking a dessert someday!

Hope you enjoyed your pizza party here today at
Purple Chocolat Home.

I will be posting this with




Chocolat - French for Chocolate. I adored chocolate from a young age when I had to sneak in the cupboard to find where my mother had hidden the Nestle's Chocolate Chips. Having read about the famous chocolat shoppes in Paris, when I finally got there I was determined to try a chocolate from every Paris shoppe. I invite you to share my adventures in creating, in travel, and in life.


  1. Wow, amazing kitchen, and amazing oven!! The pizza looks pretty incredible too!

  2. So gourmet and such variety! Love the dessert pizza too! Wish I was your neighbor:)

  3. The triple crown of amazing! Kitchen, savory pizza and the yummy dessert pizza! Your kitchen is amazing. I don't think I'd ever leave my house if I had that kitchen!

  4. I will take a bruschetta pizza and make sure there are lots of pine nuts. I will also make sure to put lots of flour on the peel so that Kirk won't reject my he did a few weeks ago. Love the dessert pizzas too! It is a favorite meal for the kids at your home. Joni

  5. What a fabulous post! I love that you can serve so many pizzas in such a short amount of time. Wonderful photos throughout. Love it, love it!


    PS - I have an almost identical clock over my mantle, but not the same oven under ;)

  6. My very favorite part of your wonderful kitchen! Gorgeous!
    xoxo Pattie

  7. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  8. Oh friend...I am in love. So very nice to meet you! Lovin the oven!

  9. Your life is a little surreal. Sounds like a great way to have a pizza party.

  10. Ok, so I blew it and posted on Just Something I Whipped Up Monday on a Sewing or Mod Podge only day - Just blame it on old age or jet lag as I just got into Washington DC last night and then posted.

  11. All i have to say is WOW. That's ok if you posted on sew it party. We have all done that a couple times by mistake. :)

  12. We're making pizza Williamson style tonight...without the pizza oven of course, but we'll see how it goes. Miss you Aunt Jackie! Thanks for sharing all your fabulous ideas! love you Texas size! -Heather and Matthew

  13. Wow, what a nice pizza oven...and absolutely love the dessert in pizza shape :-)

  14. That is such a fun thing to have in your home! And great ideas for some sweet pizza.

  15. I am so amazed and in wonder at having a pizza oven in your house. I love your creativity.

    Now, I have to know about these cooking classes. Did you go to Tuscany to learn to cook or did you go to Tuscany and then sign up for a class? I would so love to do that!

  16. I haven't quit talking to my husband about your kitchen since I read that post this one. I think he may start to hate you as I continue to tell him things we "need" to do around here:)

    This would be so fun to have and to eat!

  17. I just showed you kitchen to my architect husband and he was impressed! Your pizzas look so amazing and yummy. I bet the RS sisters enjoyed the pizzas in the gorgeous ambience of your kitchen. It truly is stunning and to us a dream to just look at:)
    Thanks for the recipes...I will be trying them in our own little regular oven:)~♥

  18. You are amazing. I love you and your blog. Love the pizzas we have had in your oven and in your beautiful kitchen.

  19. They look fabulous! I make my own dough and pizza, but the oven is what does the magic on the crust!

  20. Oh, my husband (the chef in our family) will be so jealous when I show him your post! He would ADORE his own wood-burning pizza oven! What wonderfully different sorts of pizza you have created!

  21. it's been a while :) I hope everything is peaches with you and your loved ones! (I've seen the photo with your family, on the right sidebar, and it's heaven! Wishing you all blessings and love!)

    What brought me here - we finally discovered our love for pizza. We don't have the pizza oven (at least not yet, who knows what the future holds?) but we do bake them in our (electric) oven. The kids are mad for the new "special italian pizza" mommy makes and so is Daddy :x . I couldn't be happier! We're trying our first pizza party in two weeks from now, hopefully (if the weather helps) - it's supposed to be a Pizza - Pool - Party. You're the place I came back for inspiration! If you have any ideas from your past experiences, please share, I'd be honored to learn from you!


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