Monday, May 18, 2009


I figure if Bobby Flay can do can I. So this weekend I set out to try something a little new. We love pizza around here and I especially like making individual pizza's. Mainly because my husband and I have completely opposite preferences in pizza toppings. Some good cheese, a little tomato and basil and I'm a happy girl. But not my husband, he's a meat lover to the extreme. I have found that most men are, so this is how we have found our common ground; our own pizzas.

The grilling idea came, as I've seen it done on the food network and I'm always looking for an excuse to leave the oven off in the summer. I'm lucky enough to have a husband that is willing to experiment with me, even though my experiments fail from time to time. This actually turned out pretty good. The first pizza flipped in half as I was putting it on the grill. The second one burned because the grill was a little too hot, but by the third try we had it down pat.

(A big thank you to my little brother who was also willing to experiment with us and who ate that second burnt pizza, even though I told him he didn't have to.)

So here's what you do to grill your own pizzas:

Start with a really good pizza dough. I've included my favorite pizza dough recipe below. It's from the book "The Bread Baker's Apprentice". I highly recommend this book if you like to bake or would like to learn to bake the best artisan bread.

Anyway, take your pizza dough and stretch it as thin as you can without tearing it. Place the dough on a pan with no edge that has been very generously dusted with corn meal. Top your pizza with your favorite toppings.

Now here's the tricky part. Before you attempt to slide the pizza onto the grill, shake the pizza a bit to make sure it's sliding well and no part of the pizza is stuck to the pan. If it is stuck a little take a spatula and loosen it. Once you know the pizza is loose, very quickly slide the pizza onto the grill in one quick motion.

I took pictures of how I did it, hopefully you can grasp the techniqe. But don't worry if the first one fails, just try again. The recipe below allows for 6 small pizza's.

Grill each pizza until the crust is done and the cheese is bubbly in the middle. You many have to experiment with your grill. Every grill is different and only you can know the right temperature that the pizza will cook to perfection. For me I had to turn off every other burner and keep the others on low. This put the grill at about 300 degrees. This cooked the pizza's perfectly in about 5-8 minutes.

(I've listed this recipe under healthy cooking. If you use the dough recipe below and you choose wise toppings, going a little light on the cheese, you can easily keep the calories under 500 for the entire mini-pizza.)

(Recipe from The Bread Baker's Apprentice)

4 ½ C. bread or all purpose flour chilled
2 t. salt
1 t. instant yeast
¼ C. olive or vegetable oil
1 ¾ C. ice cold water
corn meal or semolina flour for dusting

1. An hour before you plan to make your dough. Measure out your flour and water and put them in the refrigerator. If you don’t have time, put them in the freezer for about 15-20 minutes. (be sure the water doesn’t freeze)
2. Mix together the flour, salt, and instant yeast in an electric mixer with a dough hook attachment. Mix on medium speed for 5 to 7 minutes, or as long as it takes to create a smooth, sticky dough. The dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom of the bowl. If the dough is too wet and doesn’t come off the sides of the bowl, sprinkle in some more flour just until it clears the sides. If it clears the bottom of the bowl, dribble in a teaspoon or two of cold water. The finished dough will be springy, elastic, and sticky, not just tacky.
3. Prepare a sheet pan by lining it with baking parchment or wax paper and misting it with cooking spray (or lightly oil it).
4. Sprinkle flour on the counter and transfer the dough to the counter. Using a large knife or dough scraper, cut the dough into 6 equal pieces. Dip the scraper or knife into cold water between cuts to keep the dough from sticking to it. Sprinkle flour over the dough. Make sure your hands are dry and then flour them. Lift each piece and gently round it into a ball. If the dough sticks to your hands, dip your hands into the flour again.
5. Transfer the dough balls to the prepared sheet pan. Mist the dough generously with cooking spray and cover with plastic wrap.
6. Put the pan into the refrigerator overnight to rest the dough, or keep up to 3 days.
7. On the day you plan to make the pizza, remove the desired number of dough balls from the refrigerator 2 hours before making the pizza.
8. After 2 hours dust the counter with flour. Dust your hands really well with flour. Make the pizzas one at a time by stretching the dough gently with your hands to a 9-12 inch diameter. (Note: this dough is very fragile, you can not rework this dough more than once or it will become hard with no elasticity.)
9. When the dough is stretched to the size you with place it on a pan or peel, generously coated with corn meal or semolina flour.
10. Top the pizza with desired toppings.
11. If you choose to grill the pizza, follow the directions above.
12. If you choose to bake the pizza in the oven, follow these instructions;
13. At least 45 minutes before making the pizza, place a baking stone either on the floor of the over, or on a rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven as hot as possible, up to 800 degrees (most home ovens will only go to 500 or 550 degrees, but some will go higher. If you do not have a baking stone, you can use the back of a sheet pan, but do not preheat the pan.
14. Bake the pizzas for 5-8 minutes. If the top gets done before the bottom, you will need to move the stone to a lower shelf before the next round. If the bottom crisps before the cheese caramelizes, then you will need to raise the stone for subsequent bakes.

*Baking pizza at a low temperature ruins the crust because it takes so long to brown it that all the moisture evaporates, leaving a cardboard-dry shell behind. The key to great pizza is an extremely hot oven and baking surface. The race between browning the curst and melting the cheese is one of the great culinary dramas, and if they converge at exactly the same moment, you will have a memorable experience. The thinner you can stretch the dough without tearing it, and the more evenly you stretch it, the more likely that this baking convergence will occur.

**Another secret to this process is a lightly topped pizza, remembering that the best pizzas are topped with a less-is-more philosophy. The American “kitchen sink” approach is counterproductive, as it makes the crust more difficult to bake. A few, usually no more than 3 or 4 toppings, including sauce and cheese are sufficient.


Iliana said...

Yum... I've always wanted to try grilling my dough, now I might. I'm with you, some yummy cheese and tomatos and basil is the perfect pizza.

Unknown said...

Looks delicious! I love grilled pizza!

Frieda Loves Bread said...

This is my fave go-to recipe for pizza dough! I love the fact that it freezes well. Thanks for the summer grilling tip!

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