First test: G3 Ferrari Pizza Cooker (updated)

UPDATE: 28 November 2013

I’ve had the Ferrari a year now and I’ve gone through a few phases of ownership. Quite pleased with it at first, then a bit disappointed for a time, now I’ve warmed to it again. The key to success is what you do with the dough. I’ve discovered that preparing the pizza in advance and sliding it onto the Ferrari is not necessary. Read on.

Over the months, I’ve come to understand the correct method of using it. I don’t think you really need a pizza peel (as mentioned below) if you use this method. First of all, you let the Ferrari warm up for 5-10 minutes. I set it to “2” and leave it while I knock back the dough and prepare balls ready for rolling out. Then, roll out the first pizza round, keeping it just smaller than the width of the Ferrari. Now you lift the lid.

Place the rolled out dough directly on the hot Ferrari stone and leave it there, with the lid up while you add the toppings. Spread on the tomato sauce, cheese, and whatever else you’re putting on. Don’t burn yourself on the element in the lid, so work quickly and with care. This achieves two things. First of all, the base starts cooking from underneath while you sort out the toppings. Secondly, it allows the temperature of the top element to reduce and the pilot light to come on again. Once the toppings are complete, put the lid down, turn up the temperature to “3” and put the timer on the five minutes.

While the first pizza of a session might need a few extra minutes, by the second one, the temperature is such that the 5 minutes cooking time (with the base getting that bit longer while you assemble the toppings) is perfect. The good news is, even if you leave a pizza ten minutes by mistake, the pilot will go out and it won’t burn. By the way, when you lift the lid and start the second pizza, turn the temperature down to “2” temporarily to ensure that when you turn it back up to “3” it comes straight back on.

======================================================== Original Post:

In the warmer months, I cook my pizza on my gas barbecue, using the granite pizza stone Weber sell for the purpose. This is a great way to cook pizza if you can’t afford one of those fancy pants wood-fired garden ovens (which would be my first purchase on winning the lotto). The barbecue gets good and hot, and the base is crispy, with no soggy bottom.

But once the nights start drawing in, the clocks go back and the weather gets bad (though it’s bad all the time these days), it’s time to bring the pizza-making indoors. Usually, I face a few months of disappointing pizza. Even though my oven has a “pizza” mode, with top and bottom heat, it doesn’t ever really get hot enough, and the pizza comes out with a soft base, or (if you leave it in long enough to crisp the base), burnt on the top.

I have tried the old frying pan method, and this works, but is messy and can set off every smoke alarm in the house.

So when I saw the G3 Ferrari Pizza Cooker on the interwebs, I was very excited, and my wife immediately offered to get one for my birthday. (Yeah, turn that around and make it a man offering to buy his wife a domestic appliance for her birthday!)

So we’ve got kids’ parties coming up and we decided to get it early and have a practice, which you can see in the video above.

This is not as effective as cooking pizza on a barbecue, nor as good as a proper wood-fired oven, but in the winter months, or when the weather’s too bad for a barbecue, this is a better option than a domestic oven on anything other than the pyrolysis setting.

Note that you will need a pizza peel to get your pie onto the Ferrari, and these are not “supplied” as the manual appears to state. The manual is in a variety of languages, but the accompanying recipe booklet is in Italian. But if you’re buying one of these, you already know how to make pizza.

This was the first time I’d used it, and there was a slight whiff of factory coating, which meant that the first pizza was a bit tainted. The following morning I made camembert flatbreads quite successfully, and the factory taint was gone.

One thing to watch out for is the red pilot light. I guess as a safety feature, this cuts out when the oven reaches a certain temperature, but you need it to be ON when you put your pizza in so that the top element is working. So the oven gets pre-heated to get the stone hot, but then you have to open the lid to get the light to come on. I’m not yet used to its ways and found it a bit of a pain this first time. You can see in a couple of shots in the video that the light was out at certain points. I was a bit nonplussed to see that it immediately got steam condensation on its inside.

The timer lasts for five minutes, which is not long enough with the pilot light out. So sometimes you have to get it to come on and then re-set the timer. I’m sure I’ll get used to it, but so far it means that the advertised “5 minutes” cooking time is a bit of a stretch. For me, the length of time is less important than the finished result. What you want is a crispy base and a cooked topping. Five minutes or ten minutes, makes no difference to me. One benefit of the pilot light system is that, if you forget you have a pizza on the go (which I am almost bound to do), it probably won’t burn to a crisp.

You’re advised to avoid spilling toppings onto the stone, which has a porous texture. Personally, I think that for things to be working as they should, your stone should be thoroughly seasoned, and you’ll never keep it perfectly clean. So I wasn’t worried about getting anything on it. Just scrape it off after. In the video above I was using Sainsbury’s sundried tomato paste, which is a lot more liquid than the stuff I usually buy in Waitrose. This led to the slightly oily looking pizza that emerges in the video.

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