Tinned tomatoes or your own sauce – which do you prefer for your woodfired pizza?
One of the most important parts of the woodfired pizza, we think, is the tomato base spread around your well developed dough. Do you use tinned tomatoes, or your own sauce for your woodfired pizza, and does it really matter??!
We’ve heard of some people who use a tomato purée – in our tomato world this would be just too bitter and powerful and a big fat no-no, overwhelming the rest of the pizza.
We think the tomatoes need to add to the whole overall effect of the woodfired pizza and not dominate it. Unless you’re making a pizza bianca and then leave it out (err, obviously!! Ed)
As I’m sure you know…. the Neapolitan pizza making rules insist that one of the permissible tomatoes for use on a Neapolitan pizza are San Marzano tomatoes. The great thing about these tasty treats is they have a lovely rounded flavour with plenty of sweetness from the southern Italian sun, a thin skin and are perfect for canning and bottling.
By the way did you know that Neapolitan pizza making has just been added to the Unesco list of Intangible Cultural Heritage along with Bosnian wood carving and Mauritian song and dance. Whaddya know??!
Unless you lived in the neighbourhood of an authentic Italian deli, it used to be pretty challenging to get your hands on a tin of San Marzano tomatoes. The tinned ones we get from the supermarket don’t cut it, they are just not the same; and fresh ones in the UK are too thick skinned and lacking in flavour unless you have a source of over-ripe vine-ripened tomatoes in late summer (and we’ve had a summer like the one of 1976 which we all keep looking back on with days of non stop sun, hose pipe bans and stand pipes. If you’re under 50, you’ll have no idea about this – ask your parents!)
The other question to consider is does it really matter?? Well we think if you’ve gone to trouble of getting your fire in yoru woodfired oven just right, making some fabulous dough, getting the toppings ready and inviting your friends round, the tomatoes should play centre stage too; it’s not an afterthought but a great part of the miraculous finished result. If we don’t have San Marzano tomatoes in stock, we will certainly make our own sauce in advance – it tastes great and there is no added sugar as the sweetness in the sauce comes from the carrot and pepper in the base.
Here at the cookery school, we do now use tinned SM tomatoes most of the time – the flavour is great and if you have the storage space, it’s really convenient. We reckon one 400g tin will make 20 woodfired pizzas – you only want a spoonful spread around a 12″ pizza, nothing to weigh the dough down.
However we are constantly asked for our old tomato sauce recipe so if you’d like to make your own sauce, here’s what we do when we need to rustle up some sauce,
1 x 400g tin good quality chopped tomatoes
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole
1 small carrot, peeled and finely chopped
Half a red pepper, deseeded and finely chopped
3tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp dried marjoram
Salt and pepper.
- Heat the oil in a large saucepan.
- Add the onion, garlic, carrot and red pepper with a good pinch of salt & pepper and the dried herbs. Turn the heat down.
- Let the veggies cook really slowly until they are soft – this can take 20-30 minutes but the slower the better as this will really bring the sweetness of the carrot and the red pepper out into the sauce. Don’t let the veggies colour, you just want them to soften; browning will make the sauce bitter.
- Add the tin of tomatoes and fill the tin with water. Swirl this around and add to the saucepan.
- Bring the liquid to the boil over a high heat and turn the heat down again.
- Simmer the sauce gently until it’s reduced in volume by about a quarter.
- Whizz until smooth with a hand blender, taste for seasoning and then cool and store it in the fridge or freezer until you need it.
- If you’d like to see how we make our woodfired pizzas, do check out our youtube video here You can also join us at the cookery school for one of our woodfired classes where we’ll cover all you need to know about woodfired ovens and how to cook the perfect woodfired pizza