SHWI Mad Skillz is one of our spin-off groups organised by Di and Anna T. They organise bespoke sessions where SHWI members can learn a new skill in a smaller-sized group. This time, a group went to Kelham’s Islands latest culinary hotspot, Craft & Dough for a spot of pizza-making.
Craft & Dough, The latest member of the Milestone group opened in November 2014 after a successful series of ventures, including their takeover of both the Wig and Pen and Fancie, which came on the back of winning the best British Restaurant category in Gordon Ramsey’s Best Restaurants. The idea for Craft & Dough came when the Milestone group’s founder decided to capitalise on the well-known fact that beer and pizza are a marriage made in heaven. Building on some of the pizza dishes served up at the Milestone and using bakery produce made across the city at Ecclesall Road’s Fancie, Craft & Dough source many of their ingredients directly from Italy, even the flour, and grow their vegetables super-locally at an allotment at Kelham Island. Their array of beers, which take up a whole wall of the restaurant, come from all over the world with fruit beers, IPAs and more, including a Canadian import stocked nowhere else in the UK and a sell-out Nigerian, wine-like Guinness.
For the pizza prep and tossing, we had our own personal area reserved (#shwivips) and a table full of fresh ingredients including dough balls, basil plants, home-made tomato and herb passata and mini blocks of mozzarella from which to create our own Margarita pizza. Chef demonstrated how to handle the dough (pressing, stretching and gentle manipulation) while we tried the techniques for ourselves. At no time during this process did anyone eat copious amounts of cheese directly from the bag. Oh no. Ahem.
Unfortunately for some of us (i.e. me, Anna P) it was more a case of craft and D’OH, as it seems that even manipulating a piece of pre-made dough into a flat circle is beyond my meagre skillset. I have no idea how I turned it into a phallic shape, I bet I couldn’t do it again if I tried! Some people may have THOUGHT they witnessed a tantrum, but what they were ACTUALLY witnessing was a cunning ploy in action. My ineptitude resulted in chef having to step in and leave me with a professionally-handled base, winner!
Luckily, everyone else was able to demonstrate more than adequate prowess and we took it in turns to decorate our bases, before they were whipped away by chef to be cooked in the pizza oven. Our SHWI chefs were in their elements, with stuffed crust creations, ad hoc additional ingredients such as chilli oil and, er, cheese mountains, demonstrating their invention. Gregg Wallace and Monica Galetti would be proud.
Of course, the proof of the pudding (well, pizza) is in the eating and I can safely say that nobody was disappointed (as you can see from the pictures, we quite frankly nailed it). I unfortunately missed out on the recent SHWI Eats visit to Craft and Dough, and all I can say is if my own amateur creation was that tasty, how good must the ‘real’ pizzas be? (Pretty damn awesome, I am reliably informed by other SHWI-ers).
Once again, I massive thank you to Di Coupe for organising for us a pizza-the-action (boom boom) and of course, to Craft and Dough for hosting us.
Mad Skillz – we salute you (with a double chest thump, of course).
By Hannah and Anna