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!
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.
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:
- 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)
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.
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).
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.