Tag Archives: pizza

Sourdough Pizza Crust

Having a jar of sourdough starter in the refrigerator has expanded my baking repertoire already.  After my recent success with sourdough bread, I started thinking pizza crust.  I’ve written about various homemade pizzas before, including Cindy’s Pizza Rustica, Victoria’s grilled pizza, and some easy premade crusts that inspired a variety of creative topping combinations.   I eat pizza a lot.  I like pizza a lot.

And I’ve made pizza dough in my bread machine before, but the results were so-so.  Definitely edible, but a bit on the thick, bready side.

Then I saw a post titled The Pizza Project at The Traveler’s Lunchbox.  I love a good project, but in this case I was delighted to see that someone else had already done the work for me, and figured out, step by detailed step, how to produce a respectable pizza crust at home–one that approximates the wood-fired pizza crusts to be found in restaurants.

Out came the jar of sourdough starter.  The instructions said to combine the ingredients for the crust in a food processor, but I don’t have one.  Stirring with a spoon worked fine, fortunately.

With an overnight rest in the refrigerator, then a couple hour rise on the counter, the dough was warm, smooth, and infinitely enjoyable to stretch, pat, and coax into two 12-inch rounds, with a slightly thicker edge and air pockets here and there.

After lightly scattering some toppings across the surface of the crusts, the frantic part of the process began.  We had preheated the oven and Michael’s gigantic iron skillet to the maximum temperature, which was 500 F.  Transferring the crust, on a piece of parchment paper, into the skillet was a four-handed job, and one that required split second timing to get the pizza into the skillet, the skillet back into the oven, and the door closed, with as little heat loss as possible.

About 5 minutes later, we pulled the skillet out, whipped the parchment paper from beneath the crust, and rushed the skillet back into the oven for another 3-4 minutes.  When the crust was golden brown, and the toppings were bubbling madly, the first pizza was ready, and it was time for the second one to go in.

Even on our first try, this method of making pizza really did produce a crust that was similar to one made in a wood-fired oven.  It was thin and chewy in the middle, the edges had delightful air pockets interspersed with bits of char, and the crust was flavorful and satisfying, with nary a hint of that bland breadiness that had marked my previous attempts at homemade pizza crust.

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Grilled Pizza

The seeds of the grilled pizza dinner party were sown a few months ago, at my tapas party.  After a few glasses of wine.  I think it went a little something like this:

Rowdy to Heidi: “We should all get together for a grilled pizza party.  At Sally and Victoria’s, that is.”

Heidi to Victoria: “Hey!  Grilled Pizza?  Your house?”  And she made a sort of spinny finger gesture to encompass the intended guest list.

Victoria: “Okay!”

Victoria had told me about her grilled pizza and I really wanted it.  And because that’s just the sort of gracious folks they are, last Saturday evening was grilled pizza night.

It was the best sort of dinner party, to my mind.  The kind that involves a sunny afternoon, and free flowing wine, and plentiful pre-dinner snacks, and a whole lot of laughter.

Oh, and did I mention grilled pizza?

The pre-prep had involved setting the pizza dough to rise, and preparing a variety of toppings: a mixture of prosciutto and figs, pesto, tomato sauce, peppers, anchovies, goat cheese, paper thin slices of chorizo, parmesan, olive oil.

The actual grilling process was fast and furious.  The dough was patted out into oblongs, then lifted onto the grill over medium flame.  After only a minute or so, they were removed, flipped, and topped on the cooked side.  Then back onto the grill for another quick minute and they were done.  Because grilled pizza cooks so quickly, the toppings must be precooked.

The pizzas were cut into narrow slices, the better to sample all of the varieties.  The crust was crunchy on the outside, yielding on the inside, with a hint of char from the grill, and just thick enough to provide a good foundation for the toppings.

As the summer twilight slowly deepened, we finished dinner and moved on to fresh peach pie.  When at last, nobody could eat another bite and coffee had been drunk and it was time to say good-bye, my mind was full of plans.  I will definitely be grilling pizzas of my own soon, and often.

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