Thursday, June 18, 2009

Nemesis part one: Pizza

Over the past few years I've become pretty comfortable with cooking almost anything. Challah? No problem. Chutney? Sure. Chana Masala, Granola, Creme Brulee, Hamburgers? Obviously. But one of the things I just can't master is pizza - specifically pizza crust. I've made it plenty of times, but it never seems to work out - dry and crunchy on the edge, soggy in the middle, raw the whole way through, you name it, and as long as it's not good I've made it. It's usually not a disaster, and certainly edible, but making a really good pizza crust would make me feel pretty darn accomplished.

I did make a grilled pizza last week that was perhaps my best attempt so far. The crust was pretty tasty. It had a full cup of beer in it...maybe that has something to do with it. The best part about it was that it wasn't soggy in the middle. Hoorah!

Grilled pizza is really appealing, especially during the summer when, while it's too hot to be outside, it's way too hot to heat up my whole apartment by cranking my oven to the max.

I got the recipe out of He Said Beer, She Said Wine by Sam Calagione, owner of the Dogfish Head Brewery in Delaware; he credits Chef Marcel Laval√©e from Dogfish Head Brewings & Eats for the recipe. I definitely recommend the book - it's superbly interesting, and helps you purposefully pair beers and wines with food. 

Boozy Pizza Crusts
serves 4-6
  • 1 cup of Pale Ale (no pale ale in sight, I used a Belgian and I think that was fine)
  • 1 T yeast (I usually use instant yeast, more on that later, but I wasn't in my own kitchen so regular rapid rise yeast was all that I had on hand)
  • 2.5 cups high-gluten bread flour (I used part white part whole wheat)
  • 2 t sugar
  • 1 t salt
  • 4 t canola oil
  1. warm the beer in a saucepan on low. you just want to bring it up to a little above room temperature (lukewarm)
  2. pour beer into a mixing bowl and whisk in yeast
  3. slowly add the flour and sugar, stirring as you go (or use a stand mixer with a dough hook on low)
  4. mix this well before adding the salt and then the oil
  5. knead or mix until smooth and then cover (tightly) with plastic wrap
  6. let this proof for about 45 minutes - until it doubles in size
  7. somewhere in here heat up your grill to medium-high. if you're using a charcoal grill heat it with the charcoal heaped in the middle but distribute it to the edges before putting the pizza on.
  8. divide dough into 2 equal parts (or leave it whole for one large pizza or into 4 for individual pizzas). shape the halves into balls.
  9. flatten the dough balls with your palm and roll them out with a rolling pin (or you know, a wine bottle...classy!)
  10. through the discs on the grill for a few minutes (3-6) until they set up a little. flip them once during this time.
  11. take them off and top pizzas
  12. return them to the grill, which has preferably cooled a little at this point, and cover.
  13. check periodically. remove when the cheese has melted and the bottom is golden brown (make sure the bottom doesn't burn; if it's getting a too dark slide some aluminum foil underneath).
  14. let the pizza rest a few minutes if you can stand it and dig in!
If you have any tips for me in the pizza dough making department (or in any department really) please let me know. These pizza recipes seems promising:


  1. Ah! A comment a comment! You get the prize Kristi! It was so good to see you.