Crafting a pizza at home is an act of love to the pizza Gods. The base of a good pizza is the dough-undulating hills of crispy, pillowy pockets of air. Homemade pizza dough at home takes just a few ingredients and easy techniques, and soon you'll be crafting this delicious Walnut Pesto and Mozzarella Pizza. Today's Cooking Class-Pizza Dough, Cooking with Beer.
The base of a pizza is the dough-
The base of a good pizza must start with the dough and our favorite pizza dough uses beer. Beer has natural yeast, so it helps the dough rise and gain some flavor notes of hops and malt. For our pizza dough, we use a pale ale style of beer. Choose a lighter ale, with a slightly sweet flavor. For this recipe, we used a pale ale from Ninkasi Brewing Company of Eugene, Oregon with a hint of rose and apple fragrance. I recommend an ale, just don't go with a stout or heavy dark beer like Guinness. Dark beers will turn the color of the crust and give a heavy, molasses flavor.Jump to Recipe
But you can use any pale ale style from your part of the country. A strong stout like Guinness would overwhelm the pizza dough. The first step is important, the rise. The dough needs time to rise and create air bubbles that turn into pillowy pockets or air and ridges when the pizza is baked.
And you might be surprised, but sparkling wine also makes a delicious pizza dough. You can use champagne, sparkling wine or Prosecco. Like beer, fizzy wines lift the dough up and Prosecco adds a touch of sweetness.
The yeast, the flour and the rise-
We use basic dried yeast from the supermarket. But we prefer the rapid-rise style of yeast because it activates and rises fast. But the key to our pizza dough is the flour. All-purpose flour works fine, but we prefer the type of flour professional pizza artisans use. It's "00" flour. The flour is specially milled for pizza and pasta, and you'll notice a difference in how the pizza rises and bakes like our photos.
Pizza dough for flatbread-
Our pizza dough is perfect for making flatbread. Same recipe, same dough. Just roll it out, drizzle with olive oil and herbs or spices and bake in a hot oven. It's light and full of pockets of flavor with those crisp ridges.
Get creative with the garnishes and add some mint-cilantro pesto, scatter with chopped fresh tomatoes or sprinkle with the Mediterranean spices like Za'atar. Make mini-flatbreads in place of naan bread for our Spicy Mediterranean Lamb with Cucumber Raita.
Bubbly isn't it? That's what I love in a good pizza crust--bubbles of air that turn into crispy shells. The crust has a hint of the flavors of the ale. Not bold, just enough to raise the level of flavor from a normal pizza crust. You can bake our pizza dough in the oven or even better, place it on a screen and put in on your outdoor grill to get some char on the crust.
See our recipe for making a vegetarian Walnut Pesto and Fresh Mozzarella Pizza
Walnut Pesto and Mozzarella Pizza
Crafting a pizza at home is an act of love for the pizza Gods. The base of a good pizza is the dough-undulating hills of crispy, pillowy pockets of air. Once we've mastered the crust, the world opens to pizza nirvana, and soon you'll be crafting this delicious Vegetarian Walnut Pesto and Fresh Mozzarella Pizza. Today's Cooking Class-Pizza Dough, Cooking with Beer.
For the Pizza Dough-
- 4 ½ tsp. dry yeast
- ¼ cup warm water
- ¼ tsp. sugar
- 1 cup ale, warmed
- 1 tsp. salt
- 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil for brushing on the dough before baking
- 1 cup fresh baby mozzarella balls
- ⅓ cup grated parmesan cheese
For the Walnut Pesto-
- 2 cups fresh basil
- 2 tbsp. chopped walnuts
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Make the Pizza Dough-
Add the dry yeast, warm water and sugar in a small bowl and stir. Let the yeast bubble and "bloom," about 5 minutes.
Pour the yeast mixture into the base of a mixer and add the warm ale. With the mixture fit with the dough hook, add the salt and slowly add the flour, ½ cup at a time. As the dough starts to come together during mixing, slowly pour in the olive oil.
Spray a large bowl with cooking spray and put the dough into the bowl. Toss the dough to coat with the oil, then loosely cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in a warm place about 2 hours or until doubled in size.
Make the Walnut Pesto and Bake the Pizza-
In a small food processor, add the basil, walnuts and garlic. Pulse a few times. Add the olive oil and parmesan and pulse again to combine the pesto.
Pre-heat the oven to 550, which is the highest setting in most home ovens. If you have a pizza stone, place it on the middle rack of the oven before starting to pre-heat the oven. The pizza stone should be hot in the oven when you put the pizza in.
Take the dough out of the bowl and cut it into two large pieces to make two pizzas. Sprinkle some flour on the counter and dust your hands with flour. We use two methods for our pizza dough. First, with your hands stretch the pizza into a round shape about 10" wide. Second, using a heavy rolling pin, roll the pizza dough to a thickness of about ¼". The size and thickness of the pizza dough is up to you.
Brush the pizza dough with olive oil. Spoon dollops of the walnut pesto on top of the pizza and scatter around the fresh baby mozzarella balls. Sprinkle the grated parmesan on top.
Bake the pizza for about 6-7 minutes or until you see bubbly pockets of dough and the ingredients are cooked and bubbling. We like to turn the broiler on for about 1 minute to get some crispy char on our pizza.
Two kinds of flour work in our pizza dough recipe. All-purpose flour is the standard and gives good results. We prefer Italian "00" flour which is specially milled for making pasta. "00" flour gives the dough more airy pockets and a softer, slightly more chewy texture after the dough is baked.
For flatbread, just make the pizza dough and bake. Now you have a clean flatbread to garnish and serve.