I’m excited ~ much, much more excited than an incontinent geriatric at the sight of a bed pan!!
A project that took weeks of research and more weeks to build finally ended, and quite successfully, I must say.
This is my Hobo or Brick Oven I’m talking about. I first saw one on Jamie Oliver’s show years ago, but have only recently succumbed to the madness of building one. “Mad” coz why on bleeding earth would I build one in not-so-oven-savvy Brunei? Even my dad (allegedly) sighed to the builders, “Apa lagi kan dibuatnya ani..?!” (“What is it this time..?!”)… Oh well, it is on his property… But this might just possibly be the FIRST outdoors Brick Oven of its kind in Brunei!! (I think I just wet my pants there… again).
Back to the oven- it is mainly used for baking pizza, or for slow roasting. It cooks through convection of heat generated by the wood fire burning in the corner of the oven, but primarily through latent heat that’s absorbed by the brick and slowly released in the chamber.
Here’s what it looked like in the beginning.
The cavernous oven chamber
Front view, Chimney!! Let's see Santa slide down this one!
Construction finally ended on Friday. Not known for my patience, I thought Sunday (yesterday) would be OK for the first firing.
First firing! First Pizza! Woohoo!
... as spectators looked on open-mouthed in awe and bewilderment.
Now, I had initially planned to buy frozen pizza but the local Hua Ho didn’t have any, so I was forced to make my own dough. Honest to goodness, I had never made pizza before (just not my thing- I’d always thought it was too ‘unchallenging’ and ‘lazy’- plop tomato sauce and slices, cheese etc onto bread- easy, right??). Coerced into making the pizza base, I was extremely nervous – I was, to borrow Madonna’s pearl of wisdom, “Like a pizza-virgin… touching dough for the very first time. Oohh baby ~ Like a…” Uhm, Nevermind.
Mad divas and their even madder wailing aside, the first pizza I made was topped with simple tomato, cheese, salami and fresh coriander. 20 minutes and a few singed eyelashes and arm hairs later we got this perfectly baked and browned and smoked pizza. Doubters and naysayers, including one who had Pizza-Hut on speed-dial, were converted. Success!
I made SEVEN pizzas that night (So I overestimated the dough a little bit, so??), and roasted some chicken wings.
Cooking in progress
Wings covered in bbq sauce and honey
These two pizzas I particularly loved because of their local twist: Honey Chicken and Garlic (Pizza Hut’s bestseller) and Ikan Masin with fresh Chili and Corriander. The salted fish flakes replaced anchovies perfectly, but was more friendly to the local palate.
I even nearly cooked this man for dessert, but kanyang tia sudah, maybe next time…
(Just kidding bah, main-main aja Mas Supormo, I’ll save you for a Main dish for next time). I did say the chamber was huge!
So, two firsts in one go- the oven itself, and the pizzas. Not half-bad at all!
Needless to say, I’m very pleased with the results of the construction and of the pizza-making. But I don’t think I’ll be making any more pizzas from scratch for a very long time now… or even eat one. Burp! Tejeluak! And if my one-week leave from work wasn’t successful in the losing weight department as planned, I’ll take comfort in the fact that other kinds of success were achieved. Ho-hum!
P/S: Selamat Hari Gawai to all Iban friends and readers!! Jangan ngirup and driving k!