We were celebrating the inaugural lighting of our newly built wood-fired oven in the garden. The oven took about a week to build, with the help of my good friends Tom and Lara Bean, who are also local foragers. We followed traditional building techniques to make a cob oven with a circular stone base and a domed top, and we used local clay, straw and firebricks to construct it. This type of oven has been used for hundreds of years in Britain; it's just so effective as it retains the heat well.
I run sourdough bread-making courses, and I love using traditional artisanal techniques, so it was only a matter of time before I baked with fire. I've used a wood-fired oven before, but essentially it's a brand-new tool for me. I invited a few friends over - I think there were about 15 adults in total, and too many kids to count!
What was on the menu?
Making your own pizzas is such a relaxing and sociable way to entertain - especially when kids are involved. I think we cooked around 45 pizzas in the end, all with a homemade sourdough base. There were two savoury pizzas: foraged chanterelles with homemade pesto and Caws Cenarth cheese, and caramelised onions, pickled nasturtium buds, salami, Parma ham, black olives and Hafod cheese. But the undisputed star of the show was the sweet pizza, which was topped with foraged blackberries and hazelnuts. It was inspired by a traditional Welsh recipe. Tom, who also foraged for all the ingredients, used his blackberry jam as a base, topped it with the fruit and nuts then drizzled it with cream and local honey for the last couple of minutes of baking. The cream and honey caramelised to make a gorgeous custardy topping. To drink, we had prosecco with a drop of my sloe gin in it to give it a bellini-like blush. What did you talk about?
The oven and how it was built. Having this oven is going to make such a difference to the way I cook; it's just a matter of getting to know it and then planning my cooking around it. I can't wait to slow-roast meat, and I'm already thinking of how I might make the Christmas dinner in it ...
Aside from that we talked about how we, as a society, have become detached from our food heritage and local produce. It's so important to talk to kids about real food. When we were making the pizzas, they kept saying how it didn't taste like the ones from the supermarket, which was a great feeling.
I'm a member of the Real Bread Campaign, so it was great to see our work put into action. We discussed sourdough bread, how it is tastier, more nutritious and easier to digest than the mass-produced stuff. And we talked about how foraged food would have been the norm only a few generations back and how we can reconnect people with our fantastic culinary heritage. Yeasted pizza base
If your household isn't nurturing a sourdough starter, this rapid base works wonders, even if you don't have a wood-fired oven to crisp it in.
1 Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl then tip out on to your work surface. Have water to hand to prevent the dough from sticking.
2 Knead for 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic.
3 Return the dough to the bowl and cover, ready to proof. You can either leave the dough overnight in the fridge - this will enhance the flavour and getting it ready in advance saves time next day - or leave the dough in a warm place for an hour, until it has doubled in size.
4 After proofing, divide your dough into 8-10 small balls. Leave them covered with a damp tea towel to allow them to relax. Then, using lots of flour and a handful of polenta (will give your base an additional crunch) roll them out into your pizza shape, get your toppings on and cook in a good, hot oven - preferably wood-fired! - until crispy and golden brown. Blackberry and hazelnut pizza
Made with ingredients foraged from the hedgerows and inspired by a traditional Welsh hearth cake. The cream makes a delicious, velvety custard and melts with the sweetness of the berries and the jelly.
Makes 11 pizza base4-5 tbsp blackberry jellyA large handful of blackberries75g toasted hazelnuts, choppedDouble cream, for drizzlingHoney, for drizzling
1 Spread your pizza base with blackberry jelly. Sprinkle with the blackberries and toasted, chopped hazelnuts.
2 Put the pizza on toa baking tray, then generously drizzle with double cream and honey.
3 Fire immediately in a hot oven. This works particularly well in a pizza oven as it cooks both from below and above, working wonders with the cream.
For details of Vic's local bread club and baking masterclasses, go to vicnorth.co.uk
Would you like to feature on this page? Just email firstname.lastname@example.org with "get-togethers" in the subject line and tell us what you've got planned.For each get-together we feature, the host will receive a tin of delicious, gluten-free cakes from Honeybuns and a copy of Honeybuns Gluten-Free Baking by Emma Goss-Custard