Halloween is coming up in a couple of weeks so I thought I'd get our black pizza recipe out to you now so you have time to get the ingredients together - see below.

I had an excellent day at the Crop to Crust conference last weekend. It was fascinating to learn more about British growing, milling and baking and really good to catch up with so many familiar faces including John Letts (who's new harvest is now in stock – I know many have been waiting).

John Letts
I’d like to say thanks to Jon Cook from Foster’s Mill for organising such a great event. I particularly enjoyed Vanessa’s bread swap - there were some really interesting breads being exchanged, and the short trip in the classic buses to the lunch was unexpected!
I’ve still got some basil growing in my porch and some tomatoes in the greenhouse so I’m going to make the most of it this week before the last of it has to come in. Vanessa has used crushed tinned tomatoes on the base but suggests that you can use something more sophisticated uch as a fermented tomato sauce (we'll tell you about that another time).
Most enjoy a good pizza and my family is no exception. It’s weekend food (good with wine in my case), delicious and everyone gets involved when it comes to putting the toppings on. This pizza however is slightly different...this an Italian style pizza and it is black. It’s quite dramatic, and visually very different. I can’t say that it tastes wildly different, but the added charcoal gives it a different texture and the colour really is spectacular.

A note to professional bakers

There is something of a legal anomaly here. Bread sold commercially may not have any colouring in it according to EU law. Other bakes, biscuits, cakes, pizzas – you name it – are fine as is any bake sold commercially that is not called “bread”. A conversation with Trading Standards suggested that the restrictions on what can be in bread preclude carbon or any other colours and the indication was that the current legislation is out of date. Anyway, just something for you pros be aware of!

The powdered carbon, made from vegetables, is a natural food colouring and although there are claims on the Internet about it helping digestion, I think that in such small amounts it is highly unlikely to have much effect so I ignore that aspect and use it just as a striking colour. I used Gilchester’s flour because it is full of flavour. I like my pizza bases to be as interesting as the toppings. Occasionally I will add a small amount of chopped fresh oregano to the base or chopped rosemary just to add extra aroma, but feel free to play. I also highly recommend baking it on a stone. I know that it is tempting to pop it on a metal tin tray, but trust me that a pizza stone will give you that wonderfully chewy stone baked texture that makes all the difference.

You can also make this dough early and put it in the fridge overnight or longer to develop more flavour so that it is ready to roll out but remember to give it enough time to come back to room temperature before rolling out so that it is nice and lively. Of course you could just use it right away.

I’ve left the garnish up to you. I tend to dig about in the fridge to use up leftovers when I make pizzas...think olives, mozzarella, salami, rocket, peppers, mushrooms and blue cheese, ham, basil, rosemary, chillies...Think flavour!

Vanessa Kimbell runs the Sourdough School, Northampton




Add all the dry ingredients into a large bowl and mix well to blend in the charcoal powder. Next, add the oil and the water and start to bring the dough together. Then, knead the dough. It really needs a good 10 minutes of kneading to make is stretchy, so if you prefer you can use a mixer. If you are using one then mix on a medium speed until the dough clears the bowl. This may take 5 - 8 minutes depending on the machine you use.

Remove the dough from the mixing bowl and lightly oil it and put the dough back in and cover with cling film or a damp tea towel.


Leave the dough to prove on the side in the kitchen or a warm room for 2 hours, gently fold it in on itself three times during over the following the 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 220°C and place a flat baking stone in the centre of the oven to heat through

Allow to prove for a further hour and then divide into portions and ball them up to let rest on the table, covered to relax.

Final Shape and roll

Using a rolling pin or your hands to form pizza bases leaving the edge thicker than the centre, roll out your bases on a dusting of polenta or semolina to give a good texture when the pizza is baked.

Garnish your pizza. Spread your tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, olives and fresh tomatoes, olives.


Allow to rest for around 20 - 30 minutes to allow the gluten to relax and then bake on the hot baking stone for 10 minutes, check underneath for a crisp bake. It can be a little tricky as the paste is already black in colour.

When you take it out of the oven season with the Himalayan salt and black pepper, sprinkle with rocket, fresh basil and drizzle with Pelia Olive oil.

Serve immediately

Makes: (will make 6 small, 4 medium or 2 larger pizzas)

500g Gilchesters Pizza Ciabatta Flour

10g Super-fine Himalayan Salt

10g Fresh organic yeast

1 tsp Carbon / Charcoal Powder (Farina di Carbone)

25g Pelia Olive Oil

400g Water at room temperature

Garnish of your choice (we used crushed tinned tomatoes before the other toppings)


featured products



Carbon Powder (Farina di Carbone) is a popular vegetable-based fine black powder for striking, black bakes such as pizza bases or stripy pasta.

Round Superstone | £22.08

A large round pizza stone (15" or 45cm diameter and 1cm thick) with its own removable rack, made from the same Superstone as all of our Sassafras products, this stone is excellent for pizzas, breads and biscuits.

Pelia Extra-Virgin Olive Oil | £7.88

Pelia Extra-Virgin olive oil is a very fresh and grassy olive oil with a very delicate flavour and a smooth aftertaste that doesn’t burn the throat.

Gilchester Organic Pizza and Ciabatta Flour | £7.88

This blend of Gilchester Organic classic white and semolina flour was created for a creamy-coloured elastic dough for authentic Italian breads like ciabattas and pizzas.

Do you have a sourdough question for Vanessa? Send it to us and the best ones will appear in our next postbag edition and receive a dough whisk.

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