Master the art of sourdough pizza at Franco Manca!
Franco Manca started life as a neighbourhood pizzeria in Brixton, London. You may remember, from my first review of Franco Manca when they opened in central Brighton last spring, that the establishment has undergone a swift upscale, growing across the UK (also now stretching over to Italy!) to boast almost 40 restaurants.
It’s safe to say Franco Manca has become my go-to pizza chain – mostly because I don’t think of it as a chain at all. Each has the atmosphere of a true local, with beautiful interiors and, of course, the artisanal sourdough pizzas so many of us have come to know.
Workshops at Franco Manca
A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to the Marina restaurant to take part in a pizza making workshop and absolutely jumped at the chance. I regularly make pizzas from scratch within my own kitchen as it’s such a quick and pleasing meal, although my dough can be a little hit and miss!
Led by Executive Chef Alfonso Marseglia, and supported by Brighton chefs Vincenzo and Rosario, the workshop began with an introduction to the pizza dough itself. Although we were to use the beautiful restaurant pizza oven that evening, Vincenzo also gave tips for making the pizza in your own home. He discussed the ratio of flour to water, and ran through some tips of using live yeast – for example, using different water temperatures in summer to winter as the fermentation process is affected.
After creating a test batch and allowing us to play with this, Alfonso moved onto the real deal with pizza dough that had already been proved. First, demonstrating the shaping techniques and then advising on how to top the pizzas without overdoing it – a little goes a long way in this case. And finally, the pizza oven (pictured below), which was a very technical process – incidentally, something I needed rather a lot of supervision with 😛
Then it was our turn to put knowledge into practice and craft our pizzas! One by one, we took to the open plan kitchen and began shaping our dough. A very different process to the usual kneading in recipes I’ve used, this involved pushing the dough out with your fingertips.
Onto toppings – I went for the tomato base, topped with mozzarella, basil leaves, ricotta and chorizo. Rosario showed me how to stretch this onto the oven paddle and helped me (a lot) with transferring into the oven for cooking.
The final product, although a little oval in shape, was absolutely delicious! By the time I had brought mine over to the table to sit and eat, a couple of bottles of wine had appeared to go around us all. It was a gorgeously sunny evening, and the restaurant captures the sun perfectly – happily discussing our creations, there was a very collaborative atmosphere amongst all of the workshop participants.
Workshops will be held on the second Tuesday of every month at the Brighton Marina restaurant, making the next one Tuesday 11 July. For just £20, you get a two and a half hour class in the middle of the fully fledged kitchen, where of course you get to sit and eat the finished product.
I had a brilliant time and also took away some useful tips for making better pizza at home, even purchasing some of their own flour. The workshops would make an ideal gift for the foodie in your life, but equally a fun experience for anyone.
If you’re interested in finding out more, or would like to book, contact the restaurant directly at [email protected] or call 01273 977028.
* I was invited to take part in the workshop and did not pay for my session. As always, you can be assured that my opinion is 100% honest and my own, and I’m hoping you can tell from my face how much fun we had!