Pizza on a Griddle Perfection Tips:
These days outdoor pizza ovens are all the rage. Pizza cooked and eaten outside with a glass of wine and family and friends laughing and chatting away merrily is certainly one of life's greatest pleasures. To bite into a perfectly cooked pizza crust, with a beautifully fragrant tomato sauce, with cheese bubbling on top, is in my opinion, as close to a perfect food as you will ever make anywhere. Food is an experience, and what a beautiful experience a pizza, cooked and eaten outdoors, is.
When you consider that making a pizza yourself costs very little, tastes delicious, and is ready to eat much quicker than going out or having it delivered, then it really requires no thinking at all – it has to be homemade.
Baking a pizza is more of a 'technique' than a recipe. This is because pizza itself contains a multitude recipes for sauces, doughs, and toppings, in fact Italian family favourites are made up of what the kids want added to their choice of base. Pizza lovers have their favourite pizzas and there as many favourite pizzas to choose from as there are stars in the sky.
Cooking pizza on a griddle in a pizza oven is the traditional, and arguably the best, method for cooking pizza, but there are some challenges that are worth bearing in mind. Especially the texture of the dough and cooking the dough and toppings in such a way that they are ready together.
Pizza dough has floppy and soft texture. It becomes even softer and more floppy when it is stretched out and wet toppings added to it. Perhaps placing a large, flimsy, floppy wet item on a searing hot grill grate fills you with fear, but, this is exactly why the griddle is the perfect choice of cookware for making fabulous outdoor pizza. I find that using a stainless steel griddle is the perfect choice for cooking pizza in an outdoor oven, because the stainless steel ensures the heat is distributed across the base perfectly evenly.
One other reason why griddles are great for making the perfect pizza is that the pizza can be prepared directly on the griddle, meaning there isn’t a messy work surface to clean. When you have prepared your pizza, the griddle is taken to the grill, which eliminates the need to slide the pizza directly onto the grates. So you don’t need to worry about your beautiful pizza sliding off and falling on the ground. With the griddle, there is no mess, no spillage - just a perfect pizza, every time.
To begin making your pizza, you need to select your ingredients, starting with fresh pizza dough. Making your own dough is not all that difficult, but I often purchase pizza dough from the local delicatessen, though you can buy good quality pizza dough from supermarkets too. One pound of dough feeds about four people. For the sauce, I used six ounces of pre-cooked tomato sauce from the local grocer's (again, for convenience this can also be purchased from the supermarket), and I used eight ounces of cheese.
When I add the toppings to my pizza, I like to keep it as simple as possible. In this case, I used two ounces of American prosciutto-style dry cured ham and two ounces of red and green peppers. Finally, I drizzled olive oil over the pizza to add moisture and it was ready to cook.
Summary of ingredients:
6 oz of tomato passata
8 oz of cheese (I used a pre made four cheese mix)
2 oz Prosciutto
2 oz red and green peppers
Drizzle of olive oil
1. Preheat your grill to 375 degrees. The grill must be hot enough to cook the top of the pizza, but not so hot that the bottom burns..
2. While your grill is heating, make sure that your griddle is clean. Coat the griddle cooking surface with olive oil.
3. Oil your hands, then take your ball of fresh dough and place it on the center of your griddle. Press the dough out, with your fingers, into a pizza shape. You want the dough to be between around 1/6" thick.
4. Now that your dough is prepared, add your sauce onto the dough surface, spreading it so that it coats the dough with a thin, even layer of tomato sauce.
5. Sprinkle half of the cheese onto the top of the pizza, and then add the prosciutto and peppers. Sprinkle the remaining cheese on top of the toppings.
6. Place the griddle in the middle of the grill surface, and close the lid. Allow the pizza to cook undisturbed for ten minutes, and then check on the pizza every minute. The pizza should take around 15 minutes. It is ready when the cheese is melted, the sauce bubbles, and the bottom is an even brown color.
7. To remove your pizza, use a grill spatula and lift the pizza from the griddle, carefully sliding it to a waiting cutting board. Let the pizza to cool a little before serving. Don’t worry if the pizza sticks to the griddle surface. Gently working the spatula between the bottom crust and the griddle surface, slide it around to remove any stuck spots, the remove the pizza as normal.
Normally you should preheat a griddle prior to cooking, but pizza is the exception to this rule. This is because starting with a cold griddle allows the top of the pizza to cook more quickly than the bottom. In my opinion, the even heat of a griddle works even better than a pizza stone to create a crispy bottom crust with a delicious, chewy top crust. Why? The hot air inside the grill bakes the top of the pizza, melting the cheese, whilst the griddle gradually heats up over the grill. This develops a delicious crispy bottom crust, while the relatively low heat keeps the top slightly browned with a fantastic "chew”. This pizza took 1/2 hour to make, at a cost of about $8.
There is nothing better than a traditional wood fired pizza oven. However, you might feel that it is not necessary to purchase a specialised outdoor pizza oven for the occasional pizza party. A pizza dome for your griddle is a good compromise. The dome shape helps to focus the heat from a regular gas or charcoal barbecue. The pizza base cooks mainly from the heat of the griddle base, whilst the top cooks from the radiated heat from the dome itself. Using a pizza dome with a griddle adds a new dimension to your cooking, turning your barbecue into a traditional pizza oven.
Store bought pizza dough is fine when making pizza, it is convenient and does save time. However, making pizza dough is not difficult at alll and the kids love joining in. When you have a lazy summer Saturday afternoon, there is nothing better than having the whole family join in the pizza making fun.
2 cups water
1 or 2 teaspoons instant yeast
1/4 cup olive oil
4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
If you are going to use the pizza dough the same day that you bake it, use 2 teaspoons of yeast. If you are going to let the dough rise overnight you will only need 1 teaspoon of yeast.
1. Mix water and yeast together in a large mixing bowl. Let stand for a few minutes until the yeast dissolves. Stir the oil into the yeast mixture, then add the flour and salt. Mix together until a floury dough is formed.
2. Knead the dough for 6 to 8 minutes. When kneaded, the dough should feel smooth to the touch, and spring slowly back.
3. Divide the dough into 8. Grease a baking pan lightly with olive oil or baking spray. Place the dough in the pan and turn them over so they are coated with oil. Cover the pan with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel.
To Make Pizza the Same Day:
• Let the dough rise at room temperature until it has doubled in size (around 2 hours).
• Use immediately or refrigerate or freeze for use later.
• The dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. After that it should be cooked or frozen.
To Make Pizza the Next Day (or Later):
• If you don't need the dough until the next day, place the covered pan in the refrigerator and let it rise slowly overnight.
• Before making the pizza, remove the dough from the refrigerator and let it sit at room temperature for at least 1 hour.
Although my preference for cooking pizza, will always be outdoors in a pizza oven using a stainless steel griddle to make sure the base is perfectly crisp, as a family we like to have pizza for quick mid week dinners in the middle of winter. On these occasions, after a busy day at work the thought of preheating the oven, then cleaning it fills me with dread.
I often just put on my electric griddle and make pizza using that. There are a few things to bear in mind, if you decide to try making a pizza in an electric griddle.
To avoid under-cooking the pizza dough when using an electric griddle, you must always cook one side of the dough until it is golden brown, then flip it to cook the other side. You should add the toppings after flipping, this will make sure that the crust is evenly cooked when the cheese is melted and browned.
When you have leftover pizza, don’t microwave it. Instead, reheat the pizza slices in a large skillet, or your griddle on medium heat for 4 to 5 minutes. The result will be improved greatly if you make a domed lid using aluminum foil to help reflect heat back to the toppings without trapping steam inside. Reheating pizza on the hob, using a griddle really is a game changer and will eliminate soggy pizza from your life forever.
Pizza ovens are much hotter than ovens in your kitchen at home. So, traditionally, pizza is baked faster, and as a result has a crispier crust, without the unwanted mushy toppings, all too familiar on home cooked frozen pizza served to the children on a Wednesday evening. To mimic the traditional method of pizza cooking, set your oven as high as it will go and and flash baking the pizza for 5-6 minutes.
To be successful with a frozen pizza, you should thaw it completely beforehand. Remember to cook it as soon as it has thawed. When your pizza has thawed, place it on a pre-heated griddle, then place in the oven for the desired time (5-6 minutes).
For an extra crispy crust, brush your pizza with olive oil. Sprinkling garlic powder and some herbs on your pizza adds a seasoned note to any frozen pizza. You can also add some pre-cooked vegetables to make it extra special. This flash baking method requires you to keep a very close eye on your pizza. 5 or 6 minutes can go by very quickly, be mindful to ensure you don’t let your pizza burn.
1. Bacon, onion, potato & spinach.
2. Beef mince, red onion, mozzarella & BBQ sauce.
3. Ham, pineapple & cheese.
4. Chicken, cheese, spinach, tomato, mushroom, shallots.
5. Salami & mozzarella.