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Pizza Dough – for the grill

Last weekend we had a large gathering for a grilled pizza party. It’s the first time we’ve ever done it quite like this. It was a great way to feed a crowd – meat-eaters and non- alike – it was relaxed, casual and such fun. Everyone got to put their own stylistic touches on their personal pizzas with sauces and toppings provided. Kids especially loved making their own! With just a little guidance, even the youngest can have a hand in making their own dinner. With the grill going, we had a steady line of pizzas making their way to the table.

I’ve discovered after years of trials that the very best pizza dough has come from allowing it to rise slowly over a couple day’s time in the fridge. It develops a wonderful flavor this way and even the texture improves. You can roll it out extra thin if you like it like that, or allow for a thicker-crusted, more rustic pizza. This dough also makes an excellent flat, crusty, herbed focaccia! (For that, just before baking, simply dimple the surface with your fingertips, drizzle with a couple tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle salt, and dried or fresh herbs of your choice.) I’ll go into further explanations for pizza on the grill (or oven) in tomorrow’s post.

Both for the nutritional value and the flavor, I like to add some whole grain flour to this recipe.

Pizza Dough or Herbed Focaccia

1.  Stir together in the bowl of your mixer

  • 2 tsp. dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup lukewarm water (don’t allow water to exceed 115°F)

2.  Add to this and mix well:

  • 1/4 cup unbleached white flour
  • 1/4 cup rye flour

Allow this mixture to sit until it begins to get bubbly.

 3.  In another bowl, mix together

  • 2-1/4 cups unbleached white flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour (I like the “white” whole wheat – same nutritional value – both Bob’s Red Mill & King Arthur make one. Bob’s is organic.)
  • 1 tsp. salt

4a.  If using a mixer for the entire process: Add these flours and salt to the yeast/ flour mixture in your mixer bowl. Then add

  • 3/4 cups cold water (may need up to another tablespoon – see following paragraph)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Using the dough hook of your mixer, knead for about 5 minutes or so. The dough should all pull away from the sides of the bowl, pretty much cleaning it of any flour or sticky dough remnants. If it’s too sticky and doesn’t clean the sides of the bowl, add more flour, only 1 tablespoon at a time and allow time to incorporate. If, on the other hand, the dough appears too dry, too dense, add just the tiniest bit of water at a time  (say a teaspoon) allowing it to become incorporated before adding more. The finished dough will push back at you when you poke it with your finger; and if you lay your flat hand on it, it will almost but not quite stick to it. Don’t worry – it’s got a bit of leeway so you needn’t be too fussy about it. (NOTE: because of the whole grain flour in this recipe, you’re more apt to need a little extra water than additional flour.)

4b. If using a mixer for only the beginning and doing the final kneading by hand:

Follow steps 1 through 3  as above. Into the mixer bowl with the yeast, water, 1/4 c. each of white and rye flours, add 3/4 cups cold water and 1/4 cup olive oil. Mix. Add salt and all the whole wheat flour, and mix thoroughly. Measure out the 2-1/4 cups of white flour, and begin adding it bit by bit, incorporating as much of it as your mixer feels comfortable with. Turn the dough out onto a kneading surface and continue adding the white flour as you knead until most (if not all) the flour is incorporated, and the desired consistency is achieved. (See preceding paragraph.)

the rising & falling

Now – if you’re in a hurry to use the same day – simply form the dough in a round ball; place it in a fairly large bowl, coated with olive oil, and roll the dough to cover the surface with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Allow to rise for an hour or so in a draft-free, warm place until doubled in size. Press the dough down, deflating it of yeasty bubbles, and divide into two balls for pizza.  Shape each into a disc about 5 or 6 inches in diameter. (If making focaccia, don’t divide in two.) Allow to rest, covered for 15 minutes. (This will make it a little more “agreeable” when you go to roll it out.) Either roll with a rolling pin or press and stretch with your fingers. Cover with sauce and toppings to within 1/2 inch of the edges and bake in a 500°F oven for about 10 minutes, until crust is brown and cheese (if using) is bubbly.

But – if you can wait a day or two or three – put the dough into an oiled bowl and cover with plastic. Allow to rise on the counter for a couple of hours. Punch/press down, re-form into ball, re-cover and place in the refrigerator. Each day,  allow the dough to come out and rise for a couple of hours, deflate and return to the fridge. (I’ve actually allowed this process to continue for 4 days – not really intentionally – but the result was quite amazing!)

(This recipe is adapted from one in Alice Waters’ – The Art of Simple Food)

One Comment Post a comment
  1. Ashley #

    That was such fun, and the dough was delish. Let’s do that sometime again real soon. Great summer family meal. And is that a Hipstamatic photo? So cool.

    May 28, 2011

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