Monday, 4 April 2011

Just Like Bruno Used to Make....

Pizza is something we indulge in roughly once a fortnight. We all love it. Although we still eat it at the table, it is a less formal meal than usual. No cutlery or napkins, just kitchen roll and the pizza slicer; no tablecloth or tablemats, just our plates the board that the pizza sits on; no water jugs or expensive carefully matched bottles of wine, just a cold Peroni each and of course some juice for M.

Of course, we all have our own favourite topping too - spinach and olives for M; mushrooms, red onion and chilli oil for L and more often than not, four cheeses for me. Each and everytime we have pizza, I make it from scratch. At around four o'clock, you'll find me in the kitchen and a dining chair at my side with my little helper on tiptoes trying to pour the flours into the kitchenaid bowl and stirring the yeast into the warm water. She is the second generation of Hereford-based pizza makers in the Pavi Degl'Innocenti family and already takes the preparation just as seriously as the eating. Though she is not prehaps old enough to understand that its not necessary to eat the preparation before it is cooked.

Nonno Bruno is of course the first generation and is famous throughout Hereford. 16 years as the face of Ristorante Pizzeria Firenze, you know before he speaks that he is Italian and that he takes his food very seriously. A large part of his repertoire is exactly how 'mamma used to make it', although he can definitely claim pizza as his own.

Imagine sitting in the pizzeria with its green walls and informal lively atmosphere watching those famous hands form your dough base and then scatter on your toppings. Children used to clamber up to the marble worktop to get a closer look and sometimes a piece of dough to knead for themselves.

Firenze days are ones that we all treasure, and it shows in the number of people we meet in town who pull us to one side just to ask how Bruno is.

For those of you who ever dined at Firenze, remember this, Bruno's signature pizza, the 'Firenze'? Hand stretched bread dough with tomato, gorgonzola piccante, artichoke hearts, chilli and garlic. Next time you have pizza, try this one, it will become your usual.

Bruno's Firenze Pizza (makes 3 8'' pizze)

For the dough
300ml lukewarm water
7g sachet dried yeast
250g wholegrain spelt flour
250g strong bread flour
1tsp salt
1tbsp olive oil
For the chilli oil
vegetable oil
dried chilli flakes
For the topping
up to 6 tbsp tomato passata
1 400g can artichoke hearts in water, drained
250g gorgonzola, piccante if possible
homemade chilli oil
6 cloves garlic

For the chilli oil
Mix together some vegetable oil and chilli flakes in a jar. Do this to your own tastes, put the lid on and give it a good shake. Keep in a cool dark place for 2 months and use as you please.
For the dough
Mix the flours and salt in a large bowl and make a well in the middle using the back of a spoon.

Dissolve the yeast in the water and leave for five minutes to foam a little.
Pour this into the well along with the olive oil and combine until a dough has formed. Knead for 5 minutes in a free standing mixer until the dough is silky and elastic.
Cover with a tea towel and leave to rise for two hours until doubled in a warm place
Preheat the oven to as high a temperature as it will go - gas mark 9/250C.
On a well floured surface, divide the dough into three and roll out each dough ball to 7'' - 8'' onto three lightly greased baking sheets and transfer them over using the rolling pin to help.
To top
Spoon up to 2 tbsp of the passata into the centre of each base and using the back of the spoon, circle the passata around the base until it has covered all but the outer inch of the dough.
Crumble the gorgonzola piccante amongst the pizze and pull apart the artichokes before scattering the leaves onto the top.
Sprinkle with chilli oil to your taste and crush the garlic cloves evenly over the pizze.
Place into the oven for about 10 minutes until the cheese is bubbling and the vegetables are golden on their edges.
Eat immediately, washed down with Peroni or any other Italian lager.


  1. We love pizza and have it every Sunday night also made from scratch. I was interested in the spelt flour in the dough. I have never used it. What is the difference in the dough? Your pizza looks fantastic!

  2. Diane Pavi Degl'Innocenti5 April 2011 at 09:43

    What a lovely tribute to Bruno. As you know, he has eaten your pizza and thoroughly enjoyed it. As long as you are there "Firenze" will live on. Thank you.

  3. That pizza looks fantastic. Thanks for sharing such a delicious recipe!

  4. Thanks for stopping by my blog. Your pizza looks wonderful. Nothing beats homemade pizza but I haven't tried my hand at it yet. I get the next best from Nonno Crupi's Pizza! ;)

  5. Yum! I have yet to try to make my own pizza dough, but I definitely want to with your recipe! Thanks for sharing it and for commenting on my blog. I've added yours to my Google Reader and look forward to reading your future posts!

  6. Your pizza looks delicious- I love artichokes on pizza! Thanks for stopping by my blog- it's very nice to meet you! :)

  7. I dont eat pizza as often as you, but still I think its delicious. All of your toppings sound good - I like four cheese myself (maybe with some leeks or ramps)...yum!

  8. Three generations of my family have enjoyed the Firenze, we loved the restaurent and have tried to faithfully recreate the recipe everytime we have a family get together. Youngest brother even tried to make a close approximation of it whilst serving in Afghanistan on a home made stone oven on the foothills. Now we have the proper recipe I'm afriad I shall live on nothing else.... :)