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. 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.
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.
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.Jump to Recipe
And you might be surprised, but sparkling wine also makes 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.
Head into the classroom for a lesson in Cooking with Beer-Pizza Dough, and learn about the right ingredients and easy steps to make your pizza crust.
A very personal pizza-
Now we've mastered the dough, it's on to the most deeply personal and satisfying aspect of crafting pizza at home. The toppings. Today's recipe combines pesto with fresh baby mozzarella balls.
Pesto is a blend of fresh herbs, usually basil, along with olive oil, garlic, and parmesan cheese. Pine nuts are the typical nut in pesto, but today we're making a walnut pesto. Walnuts add herbal, woodsy notes but are sweeter than pine nuts and go well with fragrant basil.
Fresh mozzarella is mild and melts into the pesto, but we also like to add some finely grated parmesan for salty flavor. Start by brushing your pizza dough with olive oil to keep it moist while baking, then scatter spoons of pesto on top and garnish with baby mozzarella balls.
The next really important step is to bake the pizza in the hottest setting of your home oven, 550 degrees. Start by placing a pizza stone in the oven, then pre-heating the oven. The stone heats with the oven, setting the stage to sear the crust and give it the boost to rise-up and create those pillowy pockets and curvy hills we want in our pizza.
The pizza only needs to bake for a few minutes until the crust is golden with bits of char on the edges and the toppings are hot and bubbling. That's all there is to it. Start with the crust, get creative with your toppings, and you'll have a perfect pizza celebration.
When serving pizza, it's important to not let it sit on a cutting board or flat tray. You want airflow under the pizza so the crust doesn't get soggy. These pizza pans are perfect for keeping the crust from getting soggy and serving it right at the table.
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.