(Side note: My mom's herb garden is amazing & how did I miss that gene AND the one that helps me speak French fluently?)
We've gone through many phases of Friday night pizza. There was the the fluffy crust preference of the mid-90s, the "new bread maker WHOO!" phase of the late 90's, the let's-just-order-it-because-there-are-20-preteens-over-here phase of the early-2000s, & the current phase of gourmet... & I mean gourmet pizza that has taken over the last 8 years or so.
Somewhere in there was a grilled pizza phase.
It was glorious, & it sort of ruined me for any other pizza.
Not to say I won't eat other pizza. Please.
AT ANY RATE. I'm here today because I have a present for you. In the spirit of Father's Day, Papa Essmann has been so kind to share his amazing pizza dough recipe, along with some tips he's gathered along the way of his 20+ year long pizza journey. He's so nice. Prepare to be educated.
Pizza Dough Recipe
2 teaspoons bread yeast
1 teaspoon honey
5 Cups bread flour (King Arthur or Gold Medal brand are recommended for great protein level)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Molasses
1/2 cup filtered water
1-12oz.bottle unfiltered wheat beer
- Add 2 teaspoons yeast and 1 teaspoon honey to 1/2 cup water at about 100 degrees (this temperature does not feel warm). Stir and allow to sit for a few minutes.
- Mix 5 cups flour, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 2 eggs, 2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil, and 1 Tablespoon molasses in a large mixing bowl. Stir to mix well. Add the yeast mixture, 1 bottle of wheat beer, and remaining 2/4 cup water to flour mixture. Stir with a large spoon until clumped together. Spoon out onto a floured surface and knead well, for 3 to five minutes until the dough is smooth. If the dough is sticky, knead in additional flour 1/4 cup at a time. If it is dry, add water 1/4 cup at a time. The finished door should be only slightly tacky, and should rebound slightly when pressed with finger.
- Put 2 -3 Tablespoons olive oil into the bottom of a clean, large bowl (at least twice the size of the dough ball), and roll the dough in the oil until thoroughly covered. Cover the dough bowl with a damp towel or plastic wrap. Allow to rise in a warm (80 degree) location until double in size.
- When dough ball is twice its original size (about an hour), drop it out onto a floured surface. Cut into desired number of pieces (This will make four 14 inch pizzas, or eight smaller, thin pizzas. You will determine the size and thickness when it is rolled out). Roll each piece into a ball by stretching pulling the piece from the top with the heel of both hands and pushing to the underside with your fingers. Place each ball on a floured surface and allow to rise for 10 minutes or longer. (You may want to cover with plastic wrap if allowed to sit for longer than 10 minutes).
- When ready to make pizzas, flour a large surface and roll out with a rolling pin. Be patient, because the dough will continually shrink back up at first, as you try to roll it out. When at the desired size and thickness, Lift and place on lightly oiled pizza pans or cookie sheets. If cooking on a grill, put pizza on a floured and corn meal covered peel. Add toppings as desired - olive oil, mozzarella, tomato sauce (Prego, etc., or homemade), and your choice of meats or vegetables. Bake in 450 degree oven for about 10 minutes. Keep an eye on pizza for doneness of crust and cheese. I usually spin the pizza around a few times while in the oven to ensure even baking, and I like to slide the pizza off the pan, directly onto the oven rack, for the last several minutes of cooking, for a crisper crust.
Some explanations from Papa Essmann:
"The basic pizza recipe is just flour, salt, olive oil, yeast and water. This makes a fine crust, and you can leave out the honey, eggs and molasses, and substitute water for the beer if you like. The honey gets the fermentation process going in the yeast. The eggs make the crust chewier. The molasses is a trick we got from one of our favorite pizza restaurants, and it adds a hearty flavor to the crust that we like. Beer adds flavor of complex yeast formation that you don't get with a fast (1 to 2 hour) rise. A longer rising time will allow the dough to develop the 2nd and 3rd generation yeast fermentation that will give the dough the same deep flavor, but I don't usually make my dough the night before we make pizza (most pizza joints do!). If you want to try the longer rising time, cut the yeast to 1/2 teaspoon. Even with this amount of yeast, you may need to refrigerate the dough, or keep it in a cool location, to get the desired 18 to 24 hours rise time that you need to develop the flavor."
"To cook on a grill, I highly recommend using ceramic tiles instead of cooking directly on the grate. Buy some unfinished ceramic tiles at the hardware store, wash them off and place them on your grill to provide an adequately sized cooking surface (or buy a pizza stone, which will get black on the bottom and eventually crack. The 80 cent tiles are a better choice. When they crack, throw them away.) Turn the burners to their highest setting, or stoke a bunch of coals, add some soaked woodchips wrapped in aluminum foil with slits cut in the top, let the grill get screaming hot with the lid down, and slide the pizza directly onto the tiles. Minimize the time the grill is open to retain as much meat as possible. Spin pizza frequently. Pizza is done in 4 to 5 minutes."