Peter has a problem.
He loves his Big Green Egg. He really does. But every time he tries to make pizza on it, the pizza sticks to both the pizza peel and the grill like none other.
(As a side note: Peter and his dad made the custom wooden cart holding the Big Green Egg. Peter has these metal letters that will go on the front that spell out “Egg Cartin’“. I’ll just let you sit on that one for a bit.)
He’s tried cornmeal. He’s tried flour. He’s tried super-high temperatures. The last time he made pizza, back when we were still in Connecticut, the pizza caught on the pizza peel and folded in on itself as he tried sliding it onto the Big Green Egg. It came out looking like an eviscerated calzone.
When we had our dinner party last week, Peter was determined to do it right. He’d read about using parchment paper to prevent sticking. How did it work? Beautifully! … until he took the pizza off the Egg and saw that the parchment paper had been reduced to charred flakes (none of which got on the pizza, thankfully). This solution was half-good.
Why am I telling you all this? Mostly because I want you to know how much Peter loves his Big Green Egg. Even in the face of a difficulty in the relationship between man and grill, he won’t give up trying. I am lucky to be married to such a man.
Speaking of pizza, I promised you an awesome pizza crust recipe in this post. Jessie promises, Jessie delivers!
I know the recipe looks long, but most of the directions describe how to stretch the dough. So give it a try!
The Best Rustic Pizza Dough Ever
Prep Time: 1 hour
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Keywords: bake grill entree bread vegetarian vegan low-sodium
Ingredients (3 14-inch pizzas)
- 2-1/4 cups whole wheat flour
- 2-1/4 cups unbleached bread flour (we use a high-gluten flour from Restaurant Depot)
- 1-3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon instant yeast
- 2 tablespoons sugar or honey (optional)
- 1-1/2 cup water
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (optional)
- 1 teaspoon olive oil (for work surface)
Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl. If using a mixer, use the paddle attachment and mix on the lowest speed for 1 minute. If mixing by hand, use a large spoon and stir for about 1 minute, until well blended. Add more water if needed. The dough should be coarse and slightly sticky. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes to fully hydrate the flour.
Switch to the dough hook and mix on medium-low speed, or continue mixing by hand, for 2 to 3 minutes, until the dough is smooth but still soft, supple, and somewhere between tacky and sticky.
Spread 1 teaspoon of olive oil on a work surface. Transfer the dough to the oiled surface. Rub your hands with oil, then stretch and fold the dough one time by reaching under the front end of the dough, stretching it out, then folding it back onto the top of the dough. Do this from the back end and from each side, then flip the dough over and tuck it into a ball.
Divide the dough into as many pieces as you want pizzas (we made three pizzas about 14-inches across). Form each piece into a ball, then place on an oiled baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap (alternatively, wrap each piece in oiled plastic.
Refrigerate overnight or for up to 4 days, or in the freezer for several months.
Up to 90 minutes before you plan to bake the pizzas, place the dough balls on a lightly oiled work surface. With oiled hands, stretch and round each piece into a tight ball, then place them on a pan that’s been lightly oiled. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature until ready to bake.
About 1 hour before baking, preheat the oven and baking stone as high as the oven will go. If you don’t have a stone, assemble the pizzas on baking sheets covered with parchment paper and bake them in the pans.
Coat one of the dough balls in flour and transfer to work surface. Gently tap it down with your fingers to form a disk. Slide the backs of your hands under the dough, then lift it and use your thumbs to coax the edges of the dough into a larger circle. If the dough starts to resist and shrink back, set it back on the floured surface and let it rest for a minute or two. Continue working the dough until it is 10 to 14 inches in diameter, depending on the number of dough balls you have. The edges should be thicker than the middle.
When the crust is ready to be topped, place it on the floured peel (or leave it on the baking sheet). [Note: Peter used parchment paper on the pizza peel instead of flour, because flour tend to scorch on the Big Green Egg. Guess what? Parchment paper scorches, too.] Top pizza as desired, then slide it onto the baking stone (or slide the baking sheet into the oven).
Bake for about 4 minutes, then use the peel or a spatula to rotate the pizza. It will take anywhere from 5 to 7 minutes for the pizza to fully bake, depending on the oven (convection ovens and the Big Green Egg bake faster). The edges should puff up and be a deep golden brown. Remove the pizza, then let it cool for 1 minute before slicing or serving.
My favorite topping combinations include:
*Goat cheese, toasted pine nuts, caramelized onions, red pepper flakes
*Tomato sauce, mozz, basil, anchovies (not kidding – yum!)
*Fig jam, goat cheese, caramelized onion (variation of above)
Q: Any suggestions for Peter on how to keep his pizzas from sticking? I think his loyalty to the Big Green Egg will only go so far.
P.S. Remembering 9/11 …