Perfecting our Pizza Game

At K2.0, we have pizza every Saturday night. Without fail. We look forward to what seems like a huge cheat all week long, but it’s not a cheat! Our version has homemade crust, a modest amount of mozzarella, and fresh vegetables. After cooking, we heap on the arugula and dig in.

We first bought a pizza stone, then upgraded to a baking steel, and then copped out to Caulipower Pizza Crusts, because the whole wheat pizza dough was good, but not great, and we wanted a simple fix. Don’t get me wrong; we LOVE the Caulipower crusts. Thin and crisp and delicious!

We’ve been going to artisan pizza restaurants to conduct hands-on research to remedy our crusts. Well … mouths-on research.

Enjoyed this little 12″ beauty a few weeks ago at a fun little spot in the city. It must have been bathed in olive oil, because I haven’t tasted anything like that in a long, long while. The cheese alone was to die for. And the crust? Perfection. Bubbles on the edges, little char spots on the bottom, and perfectly cooked all the way through.

We sat at the “chef’s bar” about 8 feet away from the wood burning oven and watched the cooks make pie after pie. We must have asked them 50 questions. They indulged our curiosity.

We started pricing outdoor pizza ovens. The really good ones start at $600 and up. Ouch. “Good” is based on the ability to have the stone inside reach about 575º, and the curling flame above the pizza reach 700º. That’s how you get a perfect pie in 90 seconds. Some ovens are $2K. Double ouch.

Then we got to thinking about our outdoor grill. The temperature gage on the grill goes up to 600º. Can we heat a stone that high on the grill? There wouldn’t be a curling flame, but can we make this work?

We found an outdoor grill stone online from BBQGuys.

The dough is super important for a really hot pizza oven (grill). It must be a wetter dough than you would normally use, because the pizza is cooked at such high heat. NOTE: The dough needs to be made 72 hours in advance. It ferments in the refrigerator for three days.

Our dough recipe comes from Melissa Coleman of the Minimalist Kitchen:

  • 5 and 1/2 C 00 flour.
  • Heaping Tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 level tsp pure cane sugar
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp SAF instant yeast. (Not conventional yeast.)
  • 2 and 1/4 C room temperature water, plus more as needed.
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil.

This recipe provides four 12″ pizza crusts or six 8-9″ thin pizza crusts. (We put 4 dough balls into the freezer for next week.) Recipe for Neapolitan Pizza is at the bottom of this post.

The grill stone worked SO WELL!!! We were thrilled with the results.

Things to improve on: Getting a nice round shape for our pizza. Ours looked more like an amoeba. Thin out the dough with more water. Create a smaller crust edge. Perfect our sauce game so its chunkier with pieces of tomato. (You can see, above, where the water from the sauce evaporated during cooking.) Thicker, long onion pieces next time, instead of the chopped onion, which to be honest, was all we had on hand.

NOTE: In Melissa’s recipe below, one serving of pizza is 1/2 an 8-9″ pie. The sodium is OVER our guidelines by 23mg, and the carbohydrates are OVER our guidelines by 15g. In order to be UNDER the guidelines, one serving needs to be 1/3 of a pie. K2.0 will be perfecting this recipe, so it fits our guidelines for 1/2 pie, in the future.

What we loved: Fresh mozzarella is the bomb. It’s lower in sodium than the more processed versions, and we slice it wafer thin with a wire so we aren’t getting a huge calorie hit from it. Crust was cooked to perfection. Arugula was crisp and cold from the fridge, tossed with a tiny amount of olive oil and fresh ground pepper.

We’re taking the pizza show on the road to Chicago this week! We sent our son and his fiancé a grill stone and peel, and we’ll gather the whole family there for the weekend and cook pizza together on Saturday night. Can’t wait to be a group of 6 again!

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