The recent warm spell is continuing, and down at LEAF, we’re loving it.

Of course, not a Big Lot gets done, but given all the hard work we do at most other times of the year, we don’t feel guilty in the slightest.Wall-to-wall sunshine.

The sun was shining all day, and despite liberal, repeated slatherings of Factor 20, my shoulders, back, neck, face, and arms are glowing this morning.

This is a view of the sky yesterday morning from my allotment.  I went down there briefly to check the greenhouses (Sweltering!) and to catch a few rays on my own.  Because there were children and small animals up at The LEAF Plots, it was here I managed to get my top off and get burned, quietly sat on my own, thinking, while listening to Classic FM on the little transistor radio we have down there.  Only half an hour or so, but well needed.

So yesterday was another chance for us to get to grips with our new, improved pizza oven.  New and improved because the two extra layers of clay/straw and clay had made it a totally different animal to cook with.

As I’ve previously said, last year it was all about getting it up to temperature and keeping it there -meaning loads and loads of wood, almost constantly feeding it.

Now it’s all about getting it up to temperature and completely resisting the urge to throw more wood on!All fired up!

This is it before all the ‘fun’ started as it’s getting up to the correct heat.  Later, as the wood died down, and the oven appeared almost empty, I had to physically stop myself throwing in more fresh stuff.  Whenever the urge came upon me, I’d take my gloves off, and try to put my hands near it.  This proved that even though it didn’t look like much was happening, the heat was certainly there to cook with.

Both Sara and Matt had made dough for the pizzas, and it goes without saying that both mixes were excellent.

Because we had so much dough, we were able to make ‘proper’, thicker bases for the pizzas, and that, coupled with the lower cooking temperature meant that nearly all of them came out with everything cooked, without the ‘doughy’ centres we had last weekend.

During the madness/fun that was the actual cooking, Jon came up with an excellent idea.Cooking!

He had made a pizza, and had me cook it for him, but just before I would have considered it ready, he had me take it out and fold it over like a calzoné.  This enabled half of the pizza bottom to lightly brown.  A couple of minutes later, we turned it fully over to allow the other side to brown.  The resulting pizza was superb.  I think you’ll be hearing much more about this style of pizza in the coming weeks!

After all the pizzas (..there were about 15 in total, I think…), Pam had brought down a freshly baked rhubarb crumble with custard.

I’ve kind of run out of superlatives here, but you get the idea:  Gorgeous!

Not to be outdone, Jon the made some fresh rhubarb and ginger drop scones.Jon's rhubarb and ginger scones before cooking.

As you can clearly see, these little beauties looked excellent before they went in, but I’m afraid we’re still getting used to the fierce heat of this oven.

This is another way of saying that it was too hot!

Whoops!  Drop scones a little overdone!You can see them here to the right, and as you can see, the heat was way too much for them.

In hindsight, we should have let the oven cool down for another half hour or so before we put these in.

Still, like a science experiment, we don’t class it as a failure.  I was a learning experience!

Next time (…for there most definitely will be a next time!..), we’ll wait that bit longer.  Also, just as we did with Matt’s pie last week, we’ll put them on Ian’s groovy stand, and we’ll put them in the doorway to cook, turning them at regular intervals, just like we did last week.

As I keep banging on about, this Wednesday is our big Open Evening, so we have to get everything spot-on for that.

The fact that we have to keep cooking and eating food just to make sure we’ve got it absolutely correct, is a happy coincidence.

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