Summer. Hot weather. Friends. Family. Pizza. This is pretty much part of the Aussie summer. And homemade pizza is a great way to use up leftover Christmas ham, turkey and anything else you might have.
I had always lusted after a pizza oven. It seems to be the hippest addition to the outdoor kitchen. Some of them can cost thousands of dollars. Fine if you are running a trattoria – but how often do most people actually fire them up? They take hours to get to the right heat, and you can’t use them when there is a fire ban on anyway.
Meanwhile, did you know that you can use your BBQ to create pizza perfection? That’s right – a BBQ. And cooking outside is the coolest thing to do in super summer heat.
These days a lot of pizza companies offer super cheap deals for super cheap pizzas. You can also buy super cheap frozen pizzas. The advantage of making your own, however, is that you know what is in it – olive oil instead of trans fats for instance. Neil and I perfected this recipe a week before he had his heart attack. Once he is home we will be modifying it to make it more heart-friendly – wholemeal flour, for instance, and low-fat cheeses such a feta or no cheese at all. When you make at home you have the flexibility to do that.
So go on, have a pizza party. Invite friends and have fun making and baking these together.
A note about our BBQ – we opted for a super cute and super small BBQ that we can fit in Neil’s caravan. It was about a third of the price of a Weber, and certainly a lot cheaper than a big six-burner stainless steel thing. It is essential to have a lid to make pizzas as it creates an oven effect. if you don’t have this you can buy a special pizza oven contraption, but we found our pizza was perfect without it.
A note on pizza stones – we tried twice without a stone but in the end, found it made a difference to the pizza. In an oven, you can slow bake a thick crusted pizza. But we wanted those thin crispy pizzas like those that come out of a wood-fired pizza oven. To get this you need the BBQ to get really, really hot. The problem was that we found the bottom was getting burned on a metal pizza tray before the top was fully cooked. A stone is a bit cooler and prevented this from happening. Pizza stones were a bit expensive, so Neil bought a round stone cutting board instead and that worked a treat.
Perfect thin pizza dough
Lukewarm water (around 1 cup)
500g (4 cups) flour – if your budget extends to it use an Italian ‘hard’ flour or bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil*
2 teaspoons dried yeast
Extra flour for rolling out
*Okay, so I have cheated before and while olive oil is nicer, normal sunflower or other cooking oil is okay
Tomato paste/tomato sauce
mozzarella/tasty cheese/feta cheese
- Combine all the pizza dough ingredients in a bread maker and press on the dough cycle. Add more flour or water as necessary. (Alternatively, add the yeast, sugar, salt and olive oil to the water and gradually add the flour. Knead until smooth. Allow to sit, covered with cling wrap for at least 30 minutes.)
- Roll out the pizza dough into thin rounds – this quantity should make around two. Place on a round tray. Prick with a fork, brush with olive oil, spread with tomato sauce then add the toppings. (At this point, Neil insists on adding a bit of the cheese first, and then the rest of the cheese over the top. Post heart surgery probably not as much cheese.)
- Meanwhile, get the BBQ ready. It needs to be nice and hot – at least 200C and up to 300C is fine.
- Transfer the pizza to a pizza stone, and then place it in the BBQ. Sometimes we put the stone on a trivet so that it is not directly on the hot plate or grill – this is more important when you are not using a tone. Cook until the base is ready – if the BBQ is really hot this might only take five minutes.
- Remove with a large slotted BBQ thing (you could even get a fancy pizza oven spatula if you wanted), transfer onto a sturdy board, cut into pieces and eat.
The price will depend on whatever toppings you put on the pizza. This is a guide based on the classic ham and pineapple:
Plain flour 35c
salt, olive oil, yeast 50c
Tomato sauce 80c
$6.65 or two pizza