Why a pizza section? Well, there is a crossover from pizza to beer, as yeast is a common entity, and beer can be used in place of water. Brewers yeast can also be used, but I will talk about that later. I have been making pizza and perfecting techniques and recipes almost as long as I have been brewing. I will start with the basic tried and true recipe with explanation. Do NOT cut corners! My instructions are from experience and there is a reason for everything described.
3 cups of Stone Ground (Red Mill or equal) white unbleached flower
1 cup of Stone Ground (Red mill or equal) whole wheat flower
Fleischmann's Pizza Dough Yeast
1.5 cups of water
Semolina flour (to dust the proofed dough)
Stone Ground flour is the key here. Shop Rite carries Red Mill, and that is the best buy, but Italian stone ground flours are available at specialty Italian establishments. The common bread flours do not provide the quality results that the Stone Ground flours provide. Use as much olive oil as desired, but do not cut corners and use cheaper substitures. Salt to taste.
Preparation: Measure out water and add sugar and yeast to said water and let stand for about an hour or until surface is foamy.
Knead: Sift flour into mixing bowl and add salt, Olive Oil, and yeast mixture. If you have a bread hook and mixer, you may use it, or knead by hand. Run a mixer for about 5 minutes or knead until dough is consistant.
Divide dough into two balls, place in two containers coated with olive oil, and place a sheet of plastic wrap over each ball (make sure balls are completely coated with olive oil).
Refrigerate! Dough will be ready overnight, but will keep for a week in at cold temperatures in the refrigerator. Pull dough out 2 hours ahead of time when it is pizza day, and allow to finish proofing.
This sauce recipe is simple and is made ahead of time. It can be stored in the refrigerator or frozen.
1 can of quality whole peeled tomatoes (I have been using Rienzi Italian Plum recently, but San Marzano works well, and so does garden fresh)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
4 cloves of garlic (more or less)
1 teaspoon of oregano
What I do and have found works well: Roast garlic whole in toaster oven @ 400F for 10 minutes (this is more for sanitization than anything). Pull out whole tomatoes and place them in a food processor with the garlic. The food processor can be run until tomatoes are smooth or the tomatoes can be left slightly chunky. Drain tomatoes (add the remaining puree as well to the chopped/pureed tomatoes) and place thick sauce in a container (I use a jar). Add olive oil, vinegar, oregano, and pepper, then shake well or mix well. Let sit at least overnite for the flavors to meld.
Fresh mozzerella is best. Wherevery you want to get it, supermarket, deli, Italian joint, a fresh ball works best. 1/2 lb is adequate for one ball of the above dough.
Good Parmesian cheese is the secret. You need enough to put a layer on top of the sauce. This can be done to taste. I make sure the sauce is covered.
After the dough has sat out for an hour and a half, time to pre-heat the oven and pizza stone to 500F for about 30-45 minutes. The shelf that the stone sits on should be on the top, as close to the top of the oven as possible (making the shape of a mini pizzeria oven).
While the oven is heating, dust the dough ball with semolina flour, and sprinkle a coating of semolina flour on the peel. I keep the balls in stainless steel bowls, and shake/roll the ball around until it is completely free and coated in semolina flour (the olive oil will help accomplish this). Place said ball on peel on top of the semolina flour. Stretch the ball out into the desired pizza shape. Be sure not to exceed the size of the stone!
Spread enough sauce on top of the dough to cover it with a thin coating (or more if desired). Cover the sauce with parmesian cheese.
At this time, meat can be added as a topping (pepperoni, salami, sausage, etc). The mozzerella on top of the meat prevents the meat from drying out.
Slice up the mozzerella and place on top. Any veggies can be cooked on top of the mozzerella (peppers, olives, etc).
Once the proper amount of pre-heating time has passed, place pizza in oven (500F) for 10 minutes. Pizza should be done (it always is for me), so remove, let sit 2 minutes, slice and serve.
Options and other musings:
Once you have the above recipe down and understand the process, there are a few fun things the homebrewer can do.
1) Substitute beer (or homebrew) for water. Malty beers work best as the hops add bitterness to the dough. Darker brews work, but they to will contribute dark malt bitterness. I love using doppelbock as it seems to caramelize the dough a bit. try a few different beers and see what you like.
2) When transferring a beer from primary to secondary, snag some of the yeast slurry (preferably the loosest yeast, not chunks) and use that instead of the pizza dough yeast. It does work!
3) An old Italian retired pizzeria owner once told me that nothing cooked should go on a pizza. 'nuff said!