In the coming weeks we will take our inspiration from our guests at La Collina del Sole , Rebecca Jenson whose family were looking to rent a villa in Tuscany checked out Lucca Villa rental where their friend Rachel had stayed. They decided to opt for this beautiful villa for rent among the many villa rentals in Tuscany as Rachel’s feedback had been so enthusiastic. As Rebecca's family booked the Holiday villas in Lucca Rebecca’s love of photography was mentioned so we asked that she might share what inspired her while staying at La Collina del Sole the family wanted to savour “La Dolce Vita” while staying at Villas for rent in Tuscany so … they booked Pizza making and cooking classes, walks in the surrounding woods, they planned trips to Florence; the nearby marble quarry and sampled the delights of Migliano our local village and Castelnuovo di Garfagnana the local town, while leaving enough time to enjoy all the delights of La Collina del Sole . The Photographs which Rebecca sent are truly inspired. We first look at the Pizza experience, firstly you need to prepare the Pizza dough, this can be done by mixing BY HAND bread flour, or spelt flour or plain old OO flour, with warm water, salt and some yeast, at La Collina del Sole we prefer to use“lievito madre” or natural yeast which has been nurtured for one month and if maintained can be kept for life. If you do not have “lievito madre” at home you might want to use powder yeast which is quicker. The Pizza dough needs to grow for at least one hour if using fast powder yeast and anything from 3 hours to overnight if using “lievito madre” aka natural home grown yeast, the longer the dough rises the easier it is to digest. The dough is ready when it looks “swollen” and is at least twice the volume it was originally. The risen dough should feel very soft with a springy smooth skin surface.
The Pizza base is usually tomato sauce and mozzarella you then add the topping or toppings of your choice, for best results choose a variety of Pizza types which can be sampled by all, the toppings can be chopped up while the dough rises here are a few suggestions: Prosciutto cotto – Ham Funghi - Porccini mushrooms - locally found Salamino piccante - Spicy sausage Olive – Olives Verdure - Home grown vegetables - highly recommended Formaggi - Mixture of cheeses Cipolla – Onion Speck e mascarpone - A type of parma ham and mascarpone cheese.
In order to make Focaccia al rosmarino - Pizza dough bread with rosemary, you will need to add olive oil to the pizza base.
Light the Pizza oven, at Lucca Villa rental it takes approximately one hour to get it up to the correct heat, other ovens might take a little longer. You light the oven by placing one bundle of kindling wood at the base, light it, close the door and make sure the ventilation fan is on. Wait patiently while dreaming of your favourite Pizza.
Get the whole party to roll the dough, this can get MESSY but it’s fun, the dough seems to have a life of its own as it is rolled out and shrinks back, When the shape of the pizza tray is roughly rolled out, you can place it onto the pizza dish if it does not transfer intact never mind … plug the holes by shifting it around on the baking tray. Once the oven reaches 300 degrees, put the tomato sauce on the bases but not too much or the whole thing will be too soggy then add your favourite toppings, the great temptation is to add too many different flavours however the most successful Pizzas have a maximum of 4 different toppings and usually have 1 or 2, locally the preferred pizza is the one that celebrates each individual taste of the topping, hence it is uncomplicated tothe palate but DEIICIOUS to eat.
The Pizzas will take about 20 minutes to cook, at La Collina del Sole several can be cooked at once. To check it is ready the crust needs to lift up from the dish as one, and should feel "croccante" or crispy.
The Italian way is to have one person, usually Mamma continually cooking while the others feast, so you get a steady flow of hot delicious Pizzas, it is also great fun to share, so you get to try many different combinations.