The Art of Outdoor Pizza Cooking: A Guide to Backyard Pizza
THUNDER BAY – LIVING – There’s a new trend taking backyards by storm – outdoor pizza ovens. As we collectively become more adventurous with our cooking methods, it’s no surprise that a classic comfort food like pizza has found its way into the great outdoors. Whether you’re using a smoker, a grill, or a dedicated pizza oven, this summer staple can be elevated to new culinary heights. Let’s explore how you can make your own delicious pizza right in your backyard, starting with the essential ingredient: the pizza dough.
The Essential Ingredient: Pizza Dough
Making your own pizza dough may seem daunting, but it’s simpler than you might think. Not only will your pizzas taste fresher, but you’ll also have the freedom to experiment with different types of flours and seasonings.
If you are in a rush, check out Donato’s on Court Street right beside Renco Foods. They have amazing pre-made pizza dough ready to use. You might also want to grab a jar of their amazing sauce too.
Here’s a basic recipe for a classic pizza dough:
- 1 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 3 1/2 cups bread flour (you can also use all-purpose flour if bread flour is unavailable)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons salt
- Combine the warm water and sugar in a bowl, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Sprinkle the yeast over the water and let it sit for 5 minutes, or until it becomes frothy.
- In a large bowl, combine the flour and salt. Make a well in the middle and add the yeast mixture and olive oil. Stir until a dough begins to form.
- Transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead for about 10 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic.
- Place the dough in a greased bowl, cover with a towel, and let it rise in a warm place for 1 to 2 hours, or until it has doubled in size.
- Punch down the dough and divide it into 2 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and let them rest for another 10 minutes before using.
This dough can be used immediately or refrigerated for later use. If you’re planning on using it the same day, let the dough rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before rolling it out.
The Outdoor Pizza Oven
Outdoor pizza ovens come in a variety of styles and sizes, from traditional wood-fired ovens to modern gas-powered models. Whatever type you choose, there are a few key steps to follow for the best results:
- Preheat the Oven: For a crispy, restaurant-style pizza, you’ll want to preheat your oven to a high temperature – typically between 700 and 800 degrees Fahrenheit. This process can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, so plan accordingly.
- Prepare Your Pizza: Roll out your dough to your desired thickness on a floured surface. Add your choice of sauce, cheese, and toppings.
- Cook the Pizza: Transfer your pizza to a pizza peel dusted with flour or cornmeal to prevent sticking. Slide the pizza onto the hot stone or directly onto the oven floor. Bake for about 90 seconds to 2 minutes, then rotate the pizza for even cooking. Continue baking for another 1-2 minutes, or until the crust is golden and the cheese is bubbly.
- Remove and Serve: Use the pizza peel to remove the pizza from the oven. Allow it to cool for a few minutes before slicing and serving.
Making pizza in your backyard is a fun and delicious way to spend a summer evening. With a bit of practice, you’ll be serving up pizzeria-quality pies right from your own oven.