First of all, a confession. I've been making sourdough bread during lockdown. I've been annoying family and friends with my talk of bulk fermentation and stretch and folds during ad breaks. I felt the need to make amends.
Sourdough pizzas for charity was the path to redemption.
The great thing about making pizza for charity is that there is a plenty of profit in it, which means more money raised. It is also probably difficult to make a bad pizza, so asking people to pay £7 for a decent bit of grub delivered in a box by a cheery teenager is quite an easy sell.
I chose St John's hospice as our charity. Our local hospice has been there for a number of friends and neighbours over the years. Please take a look at the work they do and consider making a donation if you can.
Lisa Morgan (Community Fundraising lead) said "Being a community fundraiser at St Johns Hospice is all about this, seeing our wonderful community coming together with great ideas to raise vital funds for the hospice. Thank you Jon and team. We’ll let you know how the pizza’s taste once Jon has made the fundraising team one…..I might even go for the Hawaiian given how much Jon likes pineapple"
We picked Sunday June 21st (Fathers' day) for our pizza night. We organised it as a community on our local Facebook group. The plan was to aim for 15 pizzas cooked and delivered on the night, but we ended up signing-up for 25!
We needed to get organised. We decided that we should stick to just 4 different types of pizzas on the night. After a vote on Facebook we settled on:
- Margherita: The classic, the one and only. Tomato sauce, cheese, and a cheeky bit of basil.
- Pepperoni: A bit of processed meat gives a little spice and some much needed nitrates.
- Vegetarian: We all need our 5 a day
- Hawaiian: Kid's favourite though I almost banned it.
This was a community effort. Astrid provided the chopped tomatoes (organic of course). Emma prepared a bucket of chopped up vegetables. Christelle provided the pepperoni and the tinned pineapple (Don't worry, the pineapple was wrapped in brown paper to avoid any embarrassment). Caroline brought 2 basil plants round and a lot of people helped with mixing bowls and trays and pizza stones.
You can't have a pizza night without pizza boxes. A big shout-out to my good friend Enzo and the team at Sun Pizza for donating the boxes. If you want to know what Pizza should really taste like, get down to Sun Street. Our local food businesses need our support. Enzo has been feeding me for years in Lancaster (Anyone else recall Luna?)
The key to any good pizza is the foundations, the dough. The best pizzas are cooked in really hot ovens but good results can still be had with home made dough and a good tomato sauce. Using a pizza stone in a conventional oven, a thin-ish pizza will cook in about 10 mins.
I'll save the recipe for another day. Of course, I made the pizzas with sourdough starter. I'd like to make it clear that this qualified the pizzas as Artisan which means an extra pound on the price and more money for the hospice. I would like to point out that an Hawaiian pizza will never be Artisan.
The flour came from Shipton Mill. I chose their 00 grade white flour and bought a 25Kg bag. 00 flour is finely ground and is great for Pizza. Not all 00 flour is the same though. The Shipton Mill variety is lovely and still has plenty of gluten (protein is about 11%) so still strong enough to rise well and hold it's shape.
The night went a lot better than we expected, no major mess-ups. We found cooking two pizzas at a time worked best and we managed to make and deliver 25 between 5pm and 8pm. We raised £300 for the hospice and would definitely be up for doing it again sometime soon. I'd be keen to hear from anyone else in Lancaster who would be up for running their own pizza night. Soon I'm going to publish the recipes and the process in more detail and ideas of how we could turn this into a regular event.
To be continued...