Every now and then a person crosses your path who shares your passion and understands your insanity. My dear friend Kay Heritage is one of those people. Before we even knew each other our paths were intersecting and converging.
Before the idea of Miss Sophie's came to fruition, I considered applying for the position of cook at my church. I decided to move in a different direction and opened Miss Sophie's.
The cook position was eventually filled by Kay. I have to confess that I envied Kay a bit. She mastered the church kitchen, pumped out delicious food and wrote a blog with the most gorgeous food photos I had ever seen. I later learned that before she took the position at the church she was exploring opening her own restaurant but decided the church position was a better fit at that time.
Kay and I finally came together when she offered to do some food photos for the restaurant and eventually for my newspaper articles. For the past three years she has been the person behind the beautiful photos that have accompanied my articles. We discovered that we share a passion for feeding people good food, and we just love to cook for a couple hundred of our friends when we get the chance. Some may say we're insane, but in the midst of our insanity our friendship has flourished.
Kay retired from the church last year and I am elated to say she is pursuing her dream. Kay partnered with friend Sunju Pitts, who shares our passions, and together they will be introducing Savannah's first handcrafted, wood-fired pizza caterer on wheels, Big Bon Pizza.
Big Bon Pizza will bring the kitchen to you in a trailer equipped with a custom-built Marra forni Neapolitan wood-fired oven.
"The dough, the sauce and the way the pizza is cooked is Neapolitan style but the toppings are Savannah style," Kay tells me with a gleam in her eye. "Our Italian pies are infused with local flavors and locally sourced toppings."
Local products and supporting community is a major part of Big Bon's vision all the way down to the wood used to fire the oven. Trees cut, split and seasoned on the Heritage property will be the fuel for the ovens.
As Kay told me about the trailer and the oven which will cook the pizzas at 750 degrees, I couldn't help but wonder about that much heat being inside a trailer in our Savannah summers. She explained that the portion of the truck that houses the oven will open on three sides. In addition to releasing the heat, the open area will provide the feeling of family and friends gathering around a big bon fire, eating, laughing and enjoying the simple pleasure of being together. One of their slogans says it best - "Let's get back to slow food, fast friendship and long lasting community." I am already in love with Big Bon and it hasn't even got its wheels yet!
Join me in keeping up with Big Bon Pizza's progress (and to make sure you don't miss out on a chance to try their pizza) by following them on Instagram (BIGBONPIZZA) and on Facebook (Big Bon Pizza.) They will be launching a Kickstarter campaign in a couple of weeks.
BIG BON NAPOLETANA DOUGH
Recipe ingredients by volume:
â€¢ 4 cups Molino Caputo Tipo 00 flour
â€¢ 1 Â½ cups, plus 2-3 tablespoons water
â€¢ 2 teaspoon salt
â€¢ 1/2 teaspoon dry active yeast
Recipe ingredients by weight:
â€¢ 500 grams Molino Caputo Tipo 00 flour
â€¢ 325 grams water (65% hydration)
â€¢ 10 grams salt
â€¢ 3 grams dry active yeast
1. We highly recommend baking by weight. It is fast, and easy to get the exact hydration (water to flour ratio) and dough ball size you want. Being exact counts, and nothing works better than a digital scale.
2. Mix the dough in a stand mixer, by hand or in a bread machine. If you are using a stand mixer, mix it slowly for two minutes, until you have made a ball. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes, to allow the flour to absorb the water. Then, mix at a middle speed (3 or 4 on a KitchenAid) for 5 minutes, and slow for 2 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball, place it in a lightly oiled bowl, cover it with a towel, and let it rise for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until double. Punch it down and push out the air bubbles.
3. Form the dough into a large ball, then cut it into four to five equal pieces. To make your pizza balls, shape each piece of dough into a ball. Gently shape your dough into a ball, then stretch the top of the ball down and around the rest of the ball, until the outer layer wraps around the other side. Pinch the two ends together to make a smooth ball with a tight outer "skin." Set your ball seam-side down where it can rest.
4. Dust your pizza balls with flour, and store them under a damp towel, in a proofing tray, or under plastic wrap. This will prevent the outside of the ball from drying out and creating a crust, and becoming difficult to work with. The top of the pizza ball should be soft and silky. Your pizza balls will need to rest for about an hour to become soft and elastic, so that they can be easily stretched into a thin crust pizza. If you don't need your pizza balls for a few hours, you should refrigerate them, and bring them back out of the refrigerator an hour or so before you want to use them. Try making your pizza balls the day before you need them. Overnight refrigeration helps the dough develop more flavor, and a fully developed dough browns better in your oven.
BIG BON RED SAUCE
1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, drained and liquid discarded
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 2 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Pulse all ingredients in food processor until smooth, about 30 seconds. Transfer to medium bowl or container and refrigerate until ready to use.