Pizza Crust The Way It’s Meant To Be

Over the last couple of months, I’ve been getting great bread from Matt at his bakery in Miamisburg, Ohio, Boosalis Baking & Cafe. A couple of weeks ago, I asked if I could buy some flour from him, as he gets flour that’s harder for me to find in the area, and, a bit to my surprise, he was fine with it!

Sir Lancelot Flour

So one of the flours I really wanted to try was King Arthur Flour Sir Lancelot, which is a really high gluten flour (14.2% protein). This is supposedly really good for pizza crust, so I decided to make some pizza! This is also going to count toward my Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge, even though I’m WAY early on this one.

Pizza dough proofing

I used Peter Reinhart’s Napoletana crust recipe, which is actually very simple, but it needs to be done the day before making the pies. Here’s the recipe, and how I used it for the BGE:

Ingredients

  • 20.25 ounces unbleached high-gluten bread flour, chilled
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons salt (.44 ounce)
  • 1 teaspoon instant yeast (.11 ounce)
  • 2 ounces cup olive oil
  • 14 ounces of ice cold water (40F)

Directions
1. Stir together the flour, salt, and instant yeast in a mixer bowl. Mix on low speed, adding water and oil until the flour is all absorbed.  Switch to the dough hook and mix on medium speed for 5 to 7 minutes to create a smooth, sticky dough.  If the dough doesn’t clear the sides, add a bit more flour; if it doesn’t stick a bit to the bottom of the bowl, add a tablespoon of water.

Sauced

2. Sprinkle flour on the counter and plop the dough onto the flour.  Add parchment paper to a cookie sheet and mist it with oil.  Cut the dough into 4 equal pieces (without worrying too much about ‘equal’).  Keep water on hand to dip the scraper in while doing this, to keep the dough from sticking.  With dry, floured hands, shape the portions of dough into balls, adding flour as needed to prevent sticking.  Transfer dough to the cookie sheet and mist with oil.  Put the dough balls into individual zip lock bags and put in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.  They can also be frozen for longer (just put the frozen dough into the fridge the day before using).

Sausage & Baby Bella Pizza

3. Take the dough out of the refrigerator 2 hours before using and place on the counter (after dusting the counter with flour first).  Shape the dough into disks about 1/2″ thick and let them rest, misted with oil, sprinkled with flour and covered loosely with plastic wrap.  Let the dough rest for 2 hours.

Sausage & Mushroom pizza baking on bge

5. About half an hour before baking the pizzas, fill up the firebox of a Big Green Egg (XL in my case) with lump charcoal.  I was always against Cowboy charcoal as it burns up too quickly for smoking, but it works great for pizza, as it burns very hot with little ash.  It’s not needed for long periods, so burning quickly isn’t a problem.  Start up the charcoal, and place the grate on the top of the fire ring.  Add a platesetter, then spacers (either balls of foil or BGE feet or pieces of firebrick), then top with a baking stone (the BGE baking stones are the best I’ve used).  You want a good 1/2″ or more between the platesetter and the baking stone.  Open up the bottom air intack all the way, and remove the vent cover completely; this will allow max temperature.

Pizza

6.  Make the pizzas one at a time, dipping your hands in flour, especially the backs of your hands.  Lift the dough carefully with a scraper and lay across your fist, stretching it back and forth between your hands.  If it sticks, lay it back down on the floured counter, re-flour your hands, and continue.  If you get brave, you can actually toss the dough.  If the dough is too springy, let it rest for a few more minutes to relax the gluten.  The dough can also be rolled out, or pushed with your fingers (do this on parchment paper).

Heirloom tomatoe and fresh mozz pizza

7.  When the dough is stretched, lay it on parchment paper and cut the excess paper away.  The paper will likely turn very dark, but any excess will likely burn, so it’s best to remove it.  Lightly sauce the dough… less is better than more!  You can also use olive oil and garlic as a sauce instead of pizza sauce (or barbecue sauce).  Add the other toppings, and be creative!  Go light with the toppings; just adding more and more can make the pizza bake unevenly.

8.  When the BGE is at 650-700 F (or higher), put the pizza and parchment on a peel, then slide the pizza and parchment onto the middle of the baking stone, being careful when opening the BGE.  High heat can cause a backdraft, so open it by ‘burping’… Open the lid just an inch or so for a few seconds, then the rest of the way.  And remember, the whole BGE is HOT.  At very high temps, the pizza may only take 2-3 minutes to bake, so watch it closely.  If it’s not done after 2 minutes, turn it 180 degrees, and check again in another minute.  At temps of 650 or lower, it will likely take 5-8 minutes.

Pizza Sauce

I also use a very simple but very good sauce for regular pizzas.  It’s a raw sauce, as the sauce will cook on the pizza.  I take canned, whole plum tomatoes and remove the seeds and stems by hand while straining the liquid.  I put the tomatos in a bowl and strain the seeds. I then add the tomatoes back to the puree left from removing the seeds.  I then add fresh oregano and salt, then use an immersion blender to smooth out the tomatoes, but not too too much (I like pieces but not chunks).  That’s it.  Easy to make and very tasty.  Garlic can be added, but really isn’t needed.  If it’s cooked first, it cooks too much and loses it’s bright, fresh taste.

sausage pizza.jpg

The results of all this?  The best crust I’ve had so far.  I will admit, however, that I’m still tuning into doing pizza.  It’s very different from other grilling, and the first crust I did, I had the baking stone too close to the platesetter, causing the bottom to burn a bit.  It was still good, though.  The last of the four crusts I made, the sausage, mushroom, kalamata, peppadew pizza came out great.  The crust has some spring, but has a  nice crispness when thin.  The outside edge has a great flavor, with nice holes in the crumb.  This is a great crust, especially once I got used to baking it.

potato pizza.jpg

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About Curt McAdams

I guess I'm a bit of a foodie, learning to cook from my mom, then getting obsessed with outdoor cooking, competition barbecue, bread baking and just about all things food. Lately, I've been trying to upgrade my photography skills a bit, though I still have a long way to go.
16 comments
Curt
Curt

Ed, I use cornmeal at times, too, but I actually prefer the texture without it. I want to get one of those peels that has the linen that rolls around, so the pizzas can be just rolled off without a problem.

Ed Schenk
Ed Schenk

Pizza looks great. I'll be trying the crust recipe tomorrow. I always use cornmeal to help slide my pies in the oven. Works well.

Curt
Curt

Wizzie, you're right; that was a mistake that I'm fixing. I throw out the seeds & stems.

wizzie
wizzie

Nice job; good pictures, Sigh, I am too poor to buy a BGE. At the moment, my oven will do 550 pretty easily. I hope in a few months to buy the raw materials to build my own adobe style oven. It won't be as versatile or efficient as a BGE, but it should reach a high temp. I've looked at some designs and I think that I can build into the structure forced air ventilation that uses several computer cooling fans (instead of a bellows) to get the temperature to approach 1,000 degrees. It ought to be just about perfect by the time the oven cools to a little below 900. I like the dough recipe. I like tweaking things. So I am going to make a batch with all of the (optional) oil, 1/2 and none to see if it makes a difference. I have a question about your sauce. You wrote: "I take canned, whole plum tomatoes and remove the seeds and stems by hand while straining the liquid. I put the tomatos in a bowl, dump the seeds and steams, and all the tomatoes back to the liquid. I then add fresh oregano and salt, then use an immersion blender to smooth out the tomatoes," Here's what I don't get. If you are using an immersion blender then why do you first "remove the seeds and stems" only to "dump the seeds and stems" back into the bowl. This makes no sense to me. Why not save yourself trouble and just blend the whole thing up to get your little "pieces" or am I missing some fundamental aspect to this that every one else understands but me.

Curt
Curt

Huck, let me know how your pizzas turn out... leftover pulled pork is a great topping, I think.

Curt
Curt

CS, I just got locally made Italian sausage that was loose, and I smoked it before using it. The dough is really easy to make, and I like it better than Trader Joe's, but TJ's is good in a pinch, I think. The Reinhart recipe is easy to do and hard to mess up, I think.

CaramelSmoothie
CaramelSmoothie

When I make pizza, I just get the dough balls from the local Italian deli or Trader Joe's. I tried to make pizza dough once but I just don't know enough about making dough yet to make it right. That sausage that you are using looks good. My favorite pizza is pepperoni and sausage but for the life of me I am unable to find good sausage for my pizzas. I don't like the kind that the Italian deli sells.

Huck
Huck

Pizza is a great way of getting rid of leftovers. Really enjoyed this post and great pictures. Curt I'm going to give this recipe thanks for sharing.

Curt
Curt

maris, I'm still getting the hang of pizza crust, but the Peter Reinhart recipe is very good. I've found that, if the crust is too thin, I can knead it a little for it to hold a bit more, and, if it's too thick, let it rest a few minutes, then stretch it again.

maris
maris

This really does look like the perfect pizza crust, Mine is usually way too thick (but sometimes too thin!)

Curt
Curt

Anne Marie, The BGE is great for bread, and just about anything else. The XL gives me a lot of room to do more than my Bubba Keg grill does, though I'm going to try baking bread on it, too. I'm glad we're right in the heart of the breads I like. I skipped some of the sweet breads, though I do need to do the challah soon. I'll be doing English muffins as well as French and Italian breads in the very near future. Your breads are looking great, I noticed!

Anne Marie
Anne Marie

Again, I covet your big green egg. I can't wait for Pizza. Yours look great.

Curt
Curt

Leesie, I know I can order it online, but I also got a great price from the local bakery, better than I can get it online, even without shipping. :) Every bit helps! And thanks for stopping by and commenting... It's also nice to talk to new people!

Leesie
Leesie

You can order KAF online, did you know? They are also on Twitter. I've ordered this very flour and so I will be making this pizza dough recipe. Thanks for sharing. I'm new to your blog and am glad I found you through foodgawker! Be well...

Curt
Curt

Lori, That's my 2nd favorite way to do pizzas. I grill the dough, top them, then finish them in the smoker, adding a nice, sweet smokiness. I will say that the crust the way I did pizzas this weekend is really something, but I still like the direct grilling method, too.

Lori @ RecipeGirl
Lori @ RecipeGirl

The only pizza I've ever done on the grill, I put the dough directly onto the grill grates. I put it on there, brushed it with garlic/olive oil, let it cook a bit, flipped it and then put my sauce and toppings on. It turned out great & didn't burn. I wasn't able to keep a nice, round dough though since it was a pretty quick process. It was rather lopsided, but delicious!

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