The weather is looking good (20 degrees+ from here on in!) and we have neighbours that cook everything on the barbeque. If you are outside enjoying the weather, you are also smelling their dinner. So we decided to top their hamburgers last weekend with pizza on the barbeque. We went with our standard pizza dough recipe with a few twists.
Besides getting that slightly charred thin crust, I love pizzas off of pizza stones (or ideally from real pizza ovens) for that grainy flour texture on the bottom of the pizza and the sound of the paddle removing it from the stone. It reminds me of my parent’s restaurant, sold years ago now, where pizzas came fast and furious from the ovens. There’s something about the smell and sounds of pizza straight from the pizza oven that is ingrained in my memory and heart. Trying out our new pizza stone on the barbeque brought back memories and brought the neighbours over to ask what we were cooking!
40 grams of yeast (or 2 packages of instant yeast)
1 cup of lukewarm water
1/2 teaspoon sugar
3 cups flour (plus extra for dusting)
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp olive oil (plus extra for rising process)
Place the yeast and sugar into the water. Let the yeast bloom for 10 minutes until it is foamy (if it doesn’t get foamy your yeast is not good!). Meanwhile sift the flour and salt into a mixing bowl. We also adding some dried oregano on a whim for extra flavour. For a very crispy crust, replace one cup of flour with one cup of cornmeal.
Once the yeast is ready, add the yeast mixture and oil into the flour. Using a stand mixer on medium and a dough hook, mix until the dough starts to pull away from the sides. Add additional water if the dough is too dry (5 to 10 tablespoons of water usually will do). Add flour (one tablespoon at a time) if you find the dough is too wet. The dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl when ready. It will feel sticky to the touch but won’t stick to your hands.
Take the dough out and put a little bit of olive oil (about 1 tablespoon) at the bottom of the bowl. Return the dough to the bowl and spin it around in the oil, then flip it over and do the same. This ensures that whole dough ball has a thin coating of oil on it and will help it to not stick to the bowl as it rises. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and a moist tea towel. Allow the dough to rise in a warm spot until it triples.
Once it has risen, punch the dough down a little with your fingers and take it out onto a well floured working area. Flour your hands well and collect the dough into a ball (kneading once or twice). Cut into quarters to measure out four pizzas.
You can use your hands to make a rustic pizza shape (that is, no shape at all) or stretch it into ten inch round. For those who like a very thin pizza, you can use a roller to get that crackly crusty finish.
It’s pizza – so coat the dough with your desired toppings. We started with the traditional: sauce first, a sprinkling of parmesan, meat (like pepperoni or in our case soppresatta) and mozzerella on top.
While you are topping your pizza, put the stone on the grill and turn the grill on high. Let the temperature rise to 600 degrees and let it stay there for 10 minutes before putting your first pizza on to ensure the stone has reached 600 degrees as well. Slide the pizza onto the stone, close the lid and stay close by – it cooks quick! 2 to 4 minutes maximum and you are done. Remove, cut and serve!
We also made more rustic pizzas, and mini size too, experimenting with toppings. That’s the fun of pizza, taking a look in the fridge and mixing things together. We pulled out different cheeses, pestos and vegetables. My favourite of the night: olive oil, asparagus (fresh from the garden!), capicola and ricotta pizza.
Because the barbeque cooks the pizzas so fast, it would be an ideal way to serve up pizza for guests in record time and to their liking. As soon as the garden is fully planted, looks like it is time for a backyard get together (and the neigbours can keep their hamburgers!).