When the weather is at it's hottest and you have a craving for homemade pizza, forget about the oven, and head out to the BBQ. These crusts are so quick (once the rising has taken place, and in this heat even that is quick)...they are on the grill for 2 minutes at the most, and then toppings are added and it's back onto the grill (or into the oven if you must).
This crust is thin, it reminds me of a cross between pita bread and naan bread, and I enjoy the irregular shapes as it shows that they truly are homemade.
Pizza is also a great opportunity to finish off those bits and pieces that are in the fridge...you can set out a selection of toppings, cheese and sauces and allow people to assemble their own pizza. This is what I usually do, but this time I had enough toppings to make 3 specific types and wanted to be sure that everything was used.
We had a choice of:
- prosciutto, blue cheese and grilled asparagus (using up the blue cheese and asparagus)
- grilled chicken, artichoke hearts, roasted garlic and Asiago cheese (2 artichoke hearts left from the pasta the other night, a small amount of Asiago and some of the excessive amounts of garlic I have bought recently)
- Italian sausage, tomatoes and roasted red pepper (this took care of the cooked sausage in the freezer and the half of a roasted red pepper in the fridge)
Start off by making the dough for the crusts.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine:
1 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
3/4 cup warm water
Leave until the yeast starts to foam. This only takes a couple of minutes.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 - 4 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
pinch of chili flakes
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 - 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
Use the dough hook to mix the dough, allowing it to knead while you gradually add the flour. Knead until you have a soft, slightly sticky dough that forms a rough ball.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured counter and knead for a couple of minutes until it is smooth and elastic, and no longer sticky, adding flour as needed.
Shape the dough into a ball, and place into a lightly oiled bowl, covered with plastic wrap, and leave it to rise.
When the dough has doubled in size (about 1 1/2 hours) , lightly punch it down and place it on a lightly floured counter again.
Divide the dough into 6 even pieces, and shape them into balls.
I doubled the recipe, so I made 12 pizza crusts.
Before you begin rolling the dough, have a couple of baking sheets ready, with parchment paper to layer between the crusts as you roll them out. This makes it easy to remove the crusts from the tray when it is time to grill them.
Roll the dough into circles, as thin as possible. You will find that the crust springs back to a smaller size. This is because the dough needs to relax a bit more.
Place the rolled crusts onto the parchment covered baking sheet, layering parchment paper in between.
When all of the dough balls have been rolled, it is time to do a second and final roll.
Starting with the first crust you rolled, roll each one out again, as thin as possible. They will hold their shape better this time. If not, leave them to rest for another 5 minutes.
You will end up with crusts that are between 8" and 9" in diameter, and more than likely, not perfectly round.
I like to turn the BBQ on when I am about to start the second roll, this way it is really hot when you start grilling the crusts.
Place the crusts carefully on to the hot grill. I can fit 4 at a time on mine.
Close the lid and leave the crusts for about 45 seconds. There should be a nice set of grill marks on the bottom side. Lift each crust and rotate it 90 degrees. This will give a cross mark grill pattern.
Close the lid again, and leave for about 20 - 30 seconds. When you see the dough puffing up in the middle, it is time to flip it over.
Flip the crusts, close the lid and leave for another 30 - 45 seconds.
The crusts are now done. Remove them and place on a clean tray.
Place onto a wire rack inside and allow to fully cool before topping and reheating.
Once the toppings have been put onto the crust, the pizza can be put back onto the BBQ on a low heat. This allows the toppings and crust to heat through without burning the bottom. This works best if the BBQ is closed, so that it creates a similar environment to an oven. I keep a small block of wood handy to prop the lid open a bit, because unlike an oven the temperature does not regulate and it will get too hot inside.
You can also put the pizza onto a baking sheet and into the oven, at 350F until heated through. Doing it this way the cheese tends to get a bit more golden and/or crispy. On the BBQ it just melts, giving a gooey effect.
Prosciutto, grilled asparagus and blue cheese
Grilled chicken breast, roasted garlic, artichoke hearts and Asiago cheese
Italian sausage, cooked and crumbled with fresh tomatoes and roasted red pepper
- I made 12 pizzas, way too much for 4 people, but as planned, there were leftovers for lunches...2 days in a row!
- The crusts can be made, grilled and frozen for another time. It is worth it to do this, as it saves a ton of time. The crusts can also be pulled out of the freezer, topped and baked at the last minute.
- I used basil and chili flakes in the crust; use any herb you choose. Sometimes I add 1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper and a small handful of grated Parmesan. Roasted garlic or crushed fennel seeds would be good options to consider.
- The wholewheat flour is optional, you can use all white flour. If you do want the wholewheat flour, do not use all wholewheat as it does not stretch and rise as well as all purpose flour does, and you will have a very heavy, unappetizing pizza crust.
- Olive oils that are infused with different flavours, such as herbs, chili, lemon, garlic are widely available now. If you are able to purchase some, use it in the dough. Other oils such as vegetable, avocado or nut oils can also be used if you like.
- There is no need to oil the grill or the dough before cooking the crusts. The outside of the dough crisps up and forms a thin crusty layer immediately.
- Make sure that the hot crusts get put onto a wire rack as soon as possible or they will start to steam and become soggy.
- I often use purchased pizza sauce, but used Basic Tomato Sauce this time as I had some in the fridge. Other sauces that can be used are Basil Pesto, tomato paste with tandoori spices mixed in, cream sauce, butter chicken sauce or meat sauce.
- Make your own pizza is a great kids party idea...put the grilled crust onto a plate and give the kids plenty of time and space to assemble their own pizza. After it has been baked, eating the pizza is almost as much fun as making it was! This is messy, but it's an excellent way to have kids try out new things, or things they don't often eat, such as broccoli, tomato or zucchini.
- Making your own pizza is so much more fun and rewarding than ordering pizza, you know exactly what's in it, and you can give new meaning to the phrase 'personal pizza'.