Girl Meets Bulgaria

Musings of an American expat in Bulgaria (with detours in Utah and Alaska)

Pizza in Bulgaria

12 Comments

If I had to name my favorite food and I wasn’t allowed to say crab legs, I would have to say pizza.

I don’t know when my love for it started, but over the past few years my appreciation for a good quality slice has definitely grown, just look at how I spent my time in Chicago!

My mom gave Vince and I a pizza stone that she had never used and I lugged it all the way across the Atlantic. Pizza stones are heavy, ya’ll, that’s how committed I am to being able to make the perfect pizza, even in Bulgaria.

Which brings me to why I am not a huge fan of Bulgarian pizza. Things you would never imagine as suitable pizza toppings somehow end up on just about every type of pie here in BG: cut up hot dogs, corn, fried eggs (although, Vince and I recently went out for pizza and he had an egg on his, it wasn’t bad, actually), pickles, cucumbers, and cream cheese–just to name a few.

I also have a big problem with the cheese (which is not unusual for me). Bulgarian pizza restaurants usually use a type of cheese called kashkaval on their pizzas, not the mozzarella I am used to. Kashkaval (or yellow cheese, as it’s sometimes called) is mild in flavor and is an ok substitute for mozzarella, but I am not looking for a substitute, I want the real deal!

Now, that being said, I have only eaten pizza in a few cities in BG. I am sure big cities like Plovdiv and Sofia have many more options when it comes to toppings and such.

While I will probably always want to try out new pizza restaurants, I feel that making my own at home is much more rewarding. It also helps that I can customize it any way I want and not have to have Vince translate my special requests to a server.

On New Years Eve, Vince and I went shopping for a few things for the night and decided to also grab the ingredients to make homemade pizza on New Years day. The sauce was easy enough to find, but we could only find fresh mozzarella (packaged in water, no less). I wasn’t having it, so we grabbed some kashkaval and I said goodbye to my dream of recreating an (in my mind) authentic pizza pie.

As with most things I do for the first time, I  watched a few tutorial videos on YouTube to figure out exactly how to use the pizza stone. Then we got down to business.

Flouring the pizza stone (corn mean works too, but we didn't have any)

Looking back, we probably didn’t need to flour the stone. All it did was turn black on the stone when we put it in the oven to heat up.

Being the awesome woman that she is, my mother-in-law had already prepared some dough. All we had to do was roll it out. Ha! It sounds easy enough, but it was a disaster!

Sticky Dough Boy!

Eventually we gave up and had the pro show us how it is done.

MIL to the rescue!

She, of course, made it look effortless. Once it was all rolled out we plopped on the sauce, cheese, and pepperoni–which aren’t actually pepperoni, but some kind of salami.

Meanwhile, we had the pizza stone preheating in a 500F oven for 45 minutes. Yeah, that long and that hot. Doing so basically replicates (as best as a home oven can) the heat of a brick oven. This creates a crispy, pizzeria-like crust.

After we piled on the toppings, we slid the pizza off the cookie sheet (we will get a pizza peel eventually) and onto the hot stone.

It only took about 7 minutes to cook to a bubbling, golden brown.

Based on the look of it alone, I knew it would taste better than any of the pizzas at Smolyan’s local pizza place.

Other than {way} too much flour on the bottom of the pizza, it turned out great.

Fresh out of the oven

I would have like a slightly browner crust

YUM!

We loved how it turned out and will definitely be making more pizza in the future.

Up next: a copy of Vince’s favorite pie from Prospector’s Pizzeria in Denali, Alaska. It’s called the AK Apollo, and has spinach, tomatoes, and kalamata olives (the original also has feta, but we always ordered it without).

Have you ever made homemade pizza on a pizza stone? If so, how did it turn out?

W.

**While I was writing this, Vince’s mom called us to breakfast and guess what it was? PIZZA! (Yep. Pizza for breakfast, more on Bulgarian breakfast habits in a future post). How funny! She made this one in a round pan so it had a tin crust and she put olives, mushrooms and salami on it. It was about as good as the one Vince and I made. She must know I am a huge pizza fan. Bless that woman!

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12 thoughts on “Pizza in Bulgaria

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  3. You can make your own mozzarella! I would just Google it, but it seems simple enough, and super yummy 🙂

  4. Not to disappoint you, but Bulgaria is definitely not the land of good pizza 🙂 Bad dough, weird toppings, no mozzarella or basil. Even in Sofia you can’t easily find decent pizza places. If you get the chance to visit Sofia soon, go to Leo’s Pizza. Leo’s Italian, so he knows better 🙂 At least the last time I went there it was good. There’s also Domino’s, which is not the best option when you actually have access to tasty pizza, but it’s way better than your average Bulgarian thing. On the bright side, you can master the art of making pizza and never ever eat the bad local variety 🙂 Wow, how many times did I write the word pizza!

  5. Corn on pizza is also popular in the UK. I used to make fun of my boyfriend for eating it, but now I love it too. They also put corn in their tuna and on Subway sandwiches. Weirdos! 🙂

  6. My boyfriend and I are pizza fanatics! He’s vegan and I’m vegetarian, so ours turn out slightly different than most but still delicious. We use a dairy-free cheese called Daiya that you would probably like since your not a big cheese person, and pile on whatever veggies we have at the time: mushrooms, olives, bell pepper, artichoke hearts, onions or shallots, sundried tomatoes, and maybe a little tofurkey for some protein in there. Sometimes we’ll also put pesto sauce on instead of tomato. Good yummy times!

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  8. Lucky you! Not everyone gets to have a wonderful MIL. and oh, i noticed your tagline isn’t up to date anymore. You’re now officially an American expat right? 😉

  9. Your pizza looks delicious! I am a pizza crazy person. That is how I started my blog. I hope you don’t mind but here are some suggestions. First, you should try the fresh mozzarella. You may be pleasantly surprised. When you go to the market (probably in the spring) you should get fresh tomatoes and basil. (I was told the tomatoes in Bulgaria are phenomenal.) Top the pizza with slices of tomatoes, then with the mozzarella and fresh basil. Sprinkle some chubritza on top. You could also use sirene instead of fresh mozzarella or kashkaval. Also, for a meat topping what about a crumbled kufteh? Happy pizza making!!

    • I forgot to put in the post that our pizza did have chubritza on it. I think it definitely added something nice. As far as the cheeses go… That might take me awhile to build up to. I am cheese-phobic. I will eat cheddar and mozzarella, but that’s about it. I detest anything that smells like feet or has a weird texture. But, I am feeling adventurous in my new life in BG and I have already branched out to kashkaval, who knows what will be next! Thanks for all the great ideas. The crumbled kufteh sounds really good!

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