Grilled Pizza

Dealing with the Texas summer can be a frustrating battle in many ways but the one that has been effecting me the most lately is our food budget. We live in an old house that is very poorly insulated so my air conditioning unit can’t keep the house below 83 during the day and turning our gas stove has just become not even an option. So we have been eating out more often then I can remember us ever doing. So I have had to get creative. Our charcoal grill has become my kitchen and I have tried to find unique ways to use it.

So I had this idea of making a pizza on the grill, on first thought it seemed rather original but after a quick browse on the internet I found that not to be so. But that is the beauty of the internet we read about other people’s experiences and we try and take from it and learn. So I set about creating my grilled pizza.

The dough: Well for me that was the easy part because I had a favorite whole wheat pizza dough recipe from Beth Hensperger’s book The Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook. I altered the recipe to accommodate those without a bread machine.

Pizza Dough

1 1/3 c. of warm water
1/4 c. of olive oil
2 1/2 c. Bread Flour
1 c. Whole Wheat Flour
1 1/2 tsp. Salt
2 tsp. Active Dry Yeast

Pour warm water into a bowl. The water should be about 85 to 115° F. Test it with your hand. It should feel very warm, but comfortable. Add salt and mix until dissolved and then add yeast and mix until foamy. Let this mixture sit for about 5 minutes. Add the 1 cup of whole wheat flour and the olive oil and mix until well blended. Add the rest of the flour and mix well. The dough should turn into a ball. If the dough does not ball up because it’s too dry, add water one tablespoon at a time until it does. If your mixture is more like a batter, add flour one tablespoon at a time. Adding water or flour as needed to get the right consistency will assure you always get a perfect dough. Just remember to do it in small amounts.

Once the dough is balled up, place the ball on a floured board and knead for about a minute. Place the dough in a covered bowl and store in a warm, dry area to rise for about 45 minutes or until it has double in size.

Punch down the dough and kneed again this time separating the dough into two balls and flatten into a disk shape. Cover again and let it rise for another hour to an hour and a half. Once the dough has risen roll out the dough to the size you need to fit for your pizza pan. And then roll in the edges to create the crust.

Here is another fun trick that I learned and can attest to working. If you know you only are going to make one pizza you can store the second dough, after it has risen, in the freezer for up to 3 months. Once you are ready for another pizza meal take the dough out of the freezer, let it defrost in the frige for 24 hours and then let it sit in room temperature for 20 minutes before rolling flat.

Sauce and Toppings:

Okay I will admit I cheated on my sauce and just bought a can of pizza sauce from the store, there are some days I feel inspired to make everything from scratch and then there are others that life just gets a little too crazy. I make sure I buy my pizza sauce plain and then before I put it on the pizza I add fresh garlic and oregano. I then add a mixture of parmesan, mozzarella, asiago and provolone for my cheese mixture. My toppings vary depending on my mood and what I have in the house. This time I used mushrooms, fresh basil, red pepper and black olives.

Putting it all together:

First I will discuss the way I did it for this experiment and then about lessons for next time. I rolled out my dough and put it directly onto my pizza pan, I brushed my sauce onto the dough and then scattered the cheese. After I put on the toppings I take a small handful of parmesan and scatter it over the veggies. Now while I have been preparing my pizza I have had my coals going out side. I piled them up high and let them burn until they reached a nice not temperature and the coals began to turn white, I then leveled out the coals till they were flat and as even as I could master. Once the pizza was ready I placed it on top of the grill and set my timer for 10 minutes. I checked on my pizza, carefully rotating every 10 minutes until the crust was lightly brown and my toppings were melted. This took about 15 minutes.

Learning tips:

While the pizza did turn out delicious I have learned few things that will probably make the next one better. Just like when you do it in the oven, it really is best to bake the pizza dough before the toppings go on. So next time I am going to try and roll out my dough with no crust, lay the dough on my pizza pan and place it on the grill for 5 minutes. Then I will flip the dough over and add my toppings as usual to the lightly grilled side.

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