Sourdough Pizza/BBQ Pizza

Two recent projects of mine came together recently, with pretty nice results! I’ve been making sourdough bread for a couple months now, and it has been working well. In addition, I visited New York recently. As we all know, bread+NY=pizza. Except in alternate axiom sets where bread+NY=bagels, but we’re in my reality. Plus, while bagels were all over New York, most of them were nothing special. Not that I didn’t find some grub ones, it’s just that most were delivered from somewhere, and really not that great.

So, pizza. I first made a couple of standard pizzas at home. I made the dough (an overnight process), made up some sauce, and preheated the oven to 550F with the pizza stone in it. With this whole bread thing, preheat refers to more than just letting the oven come to temperature, it needs to become the temperature, which involves getting it to that temperature and letting it sit for ahwhile. In addition, for bread I increased the humidity by placing a pan of water on the bottom rack. Due to the significantly shorter bake time for pizza, I didn’t do this. Maybe next time.

So we’re talking my oven on max, sourdough rolled as thin as it’ll go, a thin layer of sweetened pizza sauce, and some mozarella. Flour the stone, set the pizza, and into the oven for 5-10 minutes. As you can see, the crust came out pretty pale. I’m thinking it’s due to my using all-purpose flour, but that’s one thing to investigate in the future.

Then this weekend we went to Cannon Beach with some friends. Anners and I have been talking sourdough for some time, so I prepped some starter to take. Make some pizzas, hang out, drink beer. But….a twist. Let’s do it on the BBQ! This was at a beach house, so we had limited cooking supplies, didn’t want to make a mess, and all that, so a BBQ is perfect. Of course, devices to help prep sauce/grate/chop were in short supply, but you do what you can with what you’ve got, eh?

I used two methods. Here is a quick rundown of my techniques for BBQ pizza. First, crack open a beer and set up a space to keep toppings, dough, sauce, and oil. You’ll want some paper towels available for oiling the grate and the crust. Get your coals burning using whatever method is available. I used a direct cooking method, and it seemed most effective with a double layer of coals. I needed to consolidate the coals partway through to increase the direct heat. After the coals are ready, spread them out and cover the BBQ to let it come to temperature.
Clean and oil the grate. Really. Stuck dough is ruined dough. Well, I’ll eat it, but you know what I mean. You will want everything to be on hand, you won’t have much time once things start rolling.

Prep the dough. Prepare the dough however you like. I pulled out my sourdough starter the day before, added some water and bread flour, and let it do its thing overnight. In the morning, I added some flour and (less) water and kneaded it to a proper consistency with a little snap. Then add the salt and knead some more, cover with plastic in a large bowl and let it sit while you do something else for a few hours. It should have risen a bunch. Push it down and let it rise again, or not, depending on when you want to make the pizzas.

Create the crust. I rolled out a bunch of rounds ranging from around 8-12″ diameter. Some were rounder than others. Get it as thin as you can…like 1/8″. While this is going on the coals should be heating. I just made a bunch, there didn’t seem to be a problem with them drying out, but the ones that sat the longest stuck together a bit (peeled apart easily).

Take everything outside. Your flame should be fairly hot, but not scorching. Oil the grate. The first method I tried was as follows. Oil one side of the dough, place oil-side down. It’ll likely puff up. You can press down with the edge of the spatula to puncture and release the gas. Check the botton, you want it crisp and a little golden. Flip the dough, lightly spoon on your sauce, place the cheese and toppings, cover, and let it grill for a couple minutes. Keep an eye on the pizza, it won’t take long. Take the pizza off, put it on a plate, and serve immediately. you don’t want these treasures sitting around getting cold.

Saucing the flipped pizza.

Some cheese!

Spinach, onion, garlic, more chees…yum!

Crispy crackery crust. Yeah!

Alright, I mentioned a different method, and I think it was better. Don’t flip. Just oil the dough, stick it on the grill, add your sauce and toppings, cover and let it cook. It won’t take long, and I found that the outer crust cam out better this way. Next time, this is the way I’m going the whole time.