The other week, I was fortunate enough to be invited to a seasonal masterclass hosted by Crust Pizza. I’ve always been a fan of Crust Pizza as their flavours are a bit more gourmet, with my favourites including the Peking Duck and the Moroccan Lamb. Tonight, head chef Peter Augoustis is leading the masterclass and showing us how to make their new Heirloom Tomato Upper Crust pizza which comes out in mid-October.
He starts off by explaining that this year they decided to go by a seasonal menu, and this season they have chosen heirloom tomatoes as the star ingredient. The pizza we are making is their take on a margherita pizza with some interesting twists and toppings.
We’re split into pairs and our station already has all the ingredients prepared and portioned for us, along with a pre-made pizza base (damn, I was looking forward to learning how to make the perfect base!).
The first step is to prick holes in the dough base with a tool that looks like a paint roller with spikes. This is to help the dough cook more evenly and to avoid becoming flimsy when finished. Next, we spread tomato sauce on the base and line the sides with cheese before filling the centre as well. The sides should be lined first to ensure all the toppings are contained within the pizza. The cheese we are using is smoked mozzarella which I have to shave myself. This cheese is absolutely delicious! It’s soft, squishy and extremely smokey, which is an unusual flavour to taste in cheese.
Next, we scatter an assortment of heirloom tomatoes including green, black, red and orange ones. If you’ve never had these tomatoes before, you’re missing out. They are sweet, juicy and succulent but that sweetness is what makes them stand out from other tomatoes. We then sprinkle ground oregano on top instead of the usual basil featured in margherita pizzas. This is because Peter is Greek and insists that oregano should be used instead.
We then use a knife to cut off the edges of the dough before popping it into the oven to cook quickly. It is then chopped up, and we put dollops of oregano verde (similar to pesto), buffalo mozzarella and fresh oregano for garnish. And voila! The pizza is complete.
Our completed pizza is called ‘Kellog’s Breakfast’ in reference to the tomatoes featured in this dish, as we were assigned names to distinguish our pizzas. The last step is to dig in! The pizza is perfection. The crust is thin and light, the cheese is layered and adds lots of depth, the oregano adds that extra oomph but the standout is that heirloom tomato. I actually thought we had put pineapples on our pizza, that’s just how juicy and sweet the heirloom tomato is. I thought I would miss meat as well and that a vegetarian pizza wouldn’t fill me up but that cheese is surprisingly filling. After I had two slices of the pizza, I am stuffed already and that is quite a feat considering normally I can eat half a pizza on my own.
Overall, it was a fantastic cooking experience led by arguably the tastiest ‘fast-food’ pizza bar. I can’t wait to grab this pizza when it comes out to show all my friends how a tomato can taste like a pineapple.
Special thanks to Crust Pizza for the masterclass, Liquid Ideas for organising the event and Cheeky Food Group for hosting us in their kitchen.
The Crust Heirloom Upper Crust will be available nationally for a limited time from mid-October 2012 for RRP$19.