Growing up, Friday night was always pizza night. I’m happy to say I’ve carried on that tradition in my house. It’s just so right. After a long week, it only seems fitting to take the night off from cooking and reward yourself with a pizza. High five, you made it through another week… have some pizza! Don’t mind if I do!
The other night we had a pizza party, and oh my goodness it was so much fun. On a whim we thought, hey, let’s make pizzas tonight. So we invited whomever was free to come on over and we threw an impromptu party. I had the pizza dough and toppings all ready to go. So when the fam arrived we rolled out the dough, topped the pizzas, and threw them on the grill. What came off was magical, cheesy, crispy crusted pizza!
Over the summer we got an Akorn Kamado Kooker. We chose this grill because not only could we use it as a smoker, but we can also use it as a grill/pizza oven. As far as pizza ovens go, this baby does not disappoint. We have been making the best home-made pizzas on this grill. Now if you know my dad, you know it takes a lot to get that man excited. Well, he was raving about this pizza! I was so excited. But it was right up his alley. He likes thin and crispy, and this was indeed crispy.
The pizzas only took 6 minutes each on our grill. We had a stone on top of the grate and had the temp up to about 500°F. That’s the trick to great home-made pizza. High, high heat. If you’re making them in your oven, the higher you can crank your temp, the better. Using a pre-heated pizza stone is a must if you want crispy crust.
(I have an update on pizza stones here, we’ve found that the lodge cast iron pizza pan works just as well without the risk of breaking the stone!)
I’ve been experimenting a lot with pizza dough and recipes for it. Basically, all recipes are the same. Water, flour, yeast, oil, salt… The difference is the amount of water and how long you let the dough rest. A ‘wetter’ dough will be more like a pan pizza. The dough will spread and fill whatever pan you put it in. It will be more airy. A ‘drier’ dough is better for the grill. It’s easier to handle and roll out. It will hold it’s shape and isn’t as sticky.
|1st row: the dough, 2nd row: the pizza, 3rd row: happiness|
I made three versions of dough, plain, garlic herb, and whole wheat. Everyone loved the garlic herb crust. I would have to say the whole wheat, while good, was the least favorite of the bunch. The garlic herb had such a great flavor. The whole wheat wasn’t bad, I think it was just too healthy tasting for pizza.
After we devoured all of the pizza, a few of us were craving dessert. Some of us have a genetic predisposition to craving something sweet right after dinner. And by some of us, I mean my mother, my son, and me. Well we had some dough left and we were trying to figure out some version of dessert pizza we could make that would also be fast, because cravings are kind of impatient. So anyway, I knew I had stuff for s’mores. Naturally, when I threw out that idea everyone jumped aboard. So we rolled out the dough; topped it with chocolate, graham crackers, and marshmallows. Within 6 minutes we had ooey, gooey, chocolatey, marshmallowy goodness. It was delish, but of course I’ve been brainstorming on ways to improve the next dessert pizza.
All in all the pizza party was a resounding success. It was so nice to have everyone around my table, having great conversation over some really tasty pizza. I really can’t wait to do it again.
3 cups All-purpose Flour
1 packet Rapid Rise Yeast
1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 cup Water, very warm (as hot as your tap will go, 120°-130°F)
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
For Garlic Herb Dough add to the flour:
1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
1 teaspoon Italian Seasoning
For Whole Wheat Dough:
Substitue 1 cup All-purpose Flour with 1 cup Whole Wheat Flour
Place 2 cups flour, salt, and yeast (and optional seasonings) in the bowl of your stand mixer. Stir (just with a spoon or spatula) to combine. Add very warm water and the olive oil, stir again until combined. Place the bowl on your mixer with dough hook attached and turn to speed 2. Slowly add 1/2 to 1 cup of flour, just enough until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and forms a ball on the dough hook. Continue to mix at speed 2 for 2 minutes.* The dough ball should be smooth and elastic. Drizzle the dough in the bowl with a little olive oil, turn to coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled in size, or for several hours.
Remove dough to a floured surface and shape into a ball to make one large pizza; or cut dough in half and shape each half into a ball to make two smaller pizzas. Cover and let rise until ready to use, or refrigerate for up to 3 days.
To make pizzas:
Slowly, pre-heat grill to about 500°F, with a pizza stone on top of the grates. Try to use indirect heat. (Or pre-heat your oven to 450-500° with stone on the middle rack.) Roll out the dough to desired thickness. Sprinkle a pizza peel with a little cornmeal. Place dough on top of the pizza peel** and give it a little jiggle to make sure it doesn’t stick to the peel. Top with desired toppings. Slide dough onto the heated stone. Close grill cover. Cook for about 6-8 minutes or until crust is crispy and top is cooked. Times will vary by grill/oven.
*I use a Kitchen-aid Mixer with a dough hook, but you can also mix dough together by hand and knead on a lightly floured surface for 5 min.
**If you don’t have a peel, prepare the pizzas on parchment paper. Leave the pizza on the the parchment paper while cooking.
Adapted from Fleischmann’s Breadworld