A more universal combination than pizza and beer is hard to imagine. Both are celebrated for being good even when they are bad. Both are also beneficiaries of a fanatical fan culture that drives innovation, tradition and an intense exploration of nuance.
If you want to break down the gram scale and discuss dough hydration in depth, you can. If you’d rather sit back, order a cake and tune in to see if the giant robots can take down the city-stomping monsters, you’ll have an equally excellent time with the form. It’s the kind of public-friendly combo that also features deep and expansive rabbit holes that you can fall and get lost in at will. Honestly, it’s the same energy that got many of us into beer in the first place.
You may not know why A pizza is one of the best you’ve ever tasted, but you know When It’s happening right now. Ditto the confrontational, labyrinthine, mind-blowing flavors of Belgian ales. A matrix of checks and balances in technique soars onto the palate with aromas, flavors and body that demand a response.
Two great things that work beautifully together – as complex (or as simple) as you want.
Let’s do that!
Dough is the quantitative-scientific wing of the pizza craft. Protein and hydration are the message board keywords that pizza enthusiasts use to signal each other why yes, me to do spent a lot of time thinking about pizza, and no, the woodworking and genealogy hobbies didn’t stick, Thank you very much. Weighted dough recipes for different styles—yes, styles exist—can seem overwhelming at first, until you get used to tweaking your own recipes and realize it’s a key to the universal pizza language. Measuring in grams might seem finicky or complicated, but it’s the quickest route to consistently good pizza. No measuring cups, no sifting, structural concerns – just toss everything in a bowl and wait for the correct number to be reached. And you’ll feel like an X-Man when you first find out exactly how much more water will turn that shaggy lump into a smooth, professional-looking ball of dough. But now a short glossary:
- protein content indicates the strength of the gluten bonds that a flour forms. All-purpose flours range from 9 to 11 percent, bread flours from 11 to 13 percent, and high-gluten flour can reach 14 percent and up.
- hydration is the water content in relation to the weight of the flour, expressed as a percentage.
- cold curing Place rolled out dough uncovered (or in layers separated by parchment) in refrigerator overnight. It dries out the dough to achieve the crispy texture loved by Midwestern pizza lovers.
Here are three crust options ranging from a fairly quick bar cake to multiple rises and a knob of butter. We used a dough blade stand mixer to develop this, but a stand mixer (or hand mixer) produces excellent results as well.
The easy bar pie
- 550 g all-purpose flour
- 20 grams of salt
- 1 g instant yeast
- 350 grams of water
- 15 g olive oil, divided
Mix the dry ingredients and add the water. Process or knead until it comes together into a ball. Rest 10 minutes and process again until dough is smooth and glossy. Place in a bowl oiled with olive oil, cover and refrigerate overnight.
Divide the dough into four equal portions and brush the bottom of a 10-inch (25 cm) pizza pan with olive oil. Place the dough in the pan and gently stretch (push, don’t pull) until it’s 6.4 mm (0.25 in) up the sides of the pan.
Add toppings and bake in a 500°F (260°C) oven on a preheated stone or steel for 8 minutes. Take the pizza out of the pan and place it on the stone/steel. Place back in the oven and finish for 2 minutes. Take out and cut into slices.
Cracker Thin and Cold-cured
- 725 g high gluten flour
- 25 grams of cornmeal
- 10 grams of salt
- 10 grams of sugar
- 4 grams of instant yeast
- 370 g ice water
- 60 g olive oil, divided
Mix flour, cornmeal, salt, sugar and yeast. Add the water and process until the mixture forms a ball and rides on the blade or begins to pull away from the mixing bowl. Then count to 30 and stop. Rest for 25 minutes and then repeat for another 30 seconds. Divide into four equal portions, brush lightly with olive oil and place in a 1 liter (946 ml) container. Cold ferment in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours and up to 7 days. Take the dough out of the fridge 2 hours before rolling it out.
For a really excellent cracker-thin crisp, roll out the dough, dock – i.e. sprinkle with tiny dimples – with a docker (a small, spiky rolling pin attached to a small handle) or a fork, place on non-stick parchment and cold set , uncovered, overnight in the fridge.
Preheat a baking stone or steel to 288°C (550°F) or 260°C (if that’s the maximum for your oven) for at least 1 hour. Place the rolled out dough on a pizza peel dusted with cornmeal, top and put in the oven. Bake for 9-11 minutes depending on the topping. Remove and cut into squares, just like what the Great Lakes version of Poseidon intended.
You there! Bring me my butter grater!
This isn’t deep dish – forget the thought. But it carries that critical buttery crust element into a power that will stand up to big toppings and reheat like a champ in the toaster.
- 1,050 g high gluten flour
- 30 grams of salt
- 11 g instant yeast
- 24.7 oz (700 g) room temperature water
- 50 g unsalted butter, melted
- 60 g unsalted butter, frozen and grated
- Extra butter (or shortening) for the pan
Combine the dry ingredients, then add the water and melted butter and process or mix until a cohesive ball forms. Place in a bowl, cover and let rise for 30 minutes. Once risen, fold in the cold butter, being careful not to melt it with your hands or by over-mixing, then work in until smooth and glossy. Cover and let rise for another 2 hours. Grease two 25 × 36 cm (10″ × 14″) Detroit pizza pans (or 33 × 23 cm baking sheets) with the butter or shortening, divide the dough into two balls and place in the sheets. Relax. Cover and leave to rest for 3 hours. Lift the relaxed dough to remove air pockets, cover and refrigerate for 24-72 hours.
Take the dough out of the fridge 2 hours before baking. Preheat oven to 204°C. Pre-bake for 10 minutes, add sauce and toppings and bake for another 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack – it will go mushy as it steams in the pan – before slicing.
Now we move from classical to jazz. If the dough is the science of pizza, then the sauce is the art. Even the same ingredients, combined in the same way, can express themselves differently depending on the season, the climate, or a thousand other things. So have faith, remember the 600 pizzas you’ve enjoyed up to this point in your life, and don’t be afraid to tinker with a little more salt, sugar, or acidity. Fast now! The Neapolitans don’t look!
Fast and easy
This sauce can be as fast as you and a blender. Just throw a few things together and let that be your first step into obsession. Here I optionally add a dash of Gueuze. (Hmm, what to do with the rest of the bottle?)
- 2 tbsp (30ml) olive oil
- 28 oz (794 g) can of whole tomatoes
- ½ tsp granulated garlic
- ½ tsp ground black pepper
- ¼ tsp dried basil
- ¼ tsp dried oregano
- ¼ tsp crushed red pepper
- ¼ cup (59 ml) Oude Gueuze
Mix something! Store in a glass jar for up to a week.
Tomatoes take on a completely different character when cooked, and a long multi-element cook is the absolute best example of taste-taste-taste in the kitchen. If you like it in the pot, you will love it on the pizza.
- 2 tbsp (30ml) olive oil
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) unsalted butter
- 6 garlic cloves, peeled
- 170 grams of tomato paste
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp dried marjoram
- 28 oz (794 g) can of whole tomatoes
- 1 tbsp (15 ml) fish sauce
- 1 tbsp (15 ml) red wine vinegar
– Flemish red beer, like Duchesse de Bourgogne
– 1 tbsp crushed red pepper
– Salt to taste
– Sugar at will
Melt the oil and butter over medium heat and add the garlic. Fry for 3-4 minutes until lightly golden, then add the tomato paste and herbs. Cook for another minute until the paste darkens. Add tomatoes, fish sauce and red wine vinegar. Bring to a slow simmer and cook for 40 minutes. Mix, taste to taste and top off with salt, sugar and/or sherry or additional red wine vinegar. It tastes even better after an overnight stay in the fridge.
Fat & Rich
Save this for a Sicilian-style focaccia sfincione, or the big ol’ butter crust. Be bold with the bulbs and you’ll be rewarded, Allium Icarus. The addition of a large dark beer takes things a crucial step further. (Feel free to trade in a cask-aged stout if you’re feeling less continental.)
- ¼ cup (59 ml) olive oil
- ½ white onion, diced
- 2 anchovies, chopped
- 28 oz (794 g) can of whole tomatoes
- ½ cup (118 ml) Belgian Dark Strong Ale (e.g. Rochefort 8)
- salt, to taste
Heat the olive oil in a wide skillet over medium-low heat, add the onion and sauté for 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the anchovies and stir, cook for a further 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and beer and cook for 45 minutes, stirring and chopping the tomatoes frequently. When it’s thick and not runny at all, it’s ready for your pizza. Season to taste and spread thickly.
Pizzas can be topped with whatever you like, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Our days in the sun are short in this life, and you don’t want to live with the kind of regret that comes from skipping bratwurst and sauerkraut for fear of social shame. This is the most gentle and encouraging choice to get you started on your pizza journey. The ingredients are scaled for a 14 inch (36 cm) pizza. Consider gravy, full-fat, low-moisture mozzarella, and freshly grated parmesan for granted…
Stupid sexy Flanders
- 170g shredded Flemish carbonnade (or leftover beef goulash)
- 57 g quick pickled carrots, matchstick cut
- 14 g potato sticks
- Chopped parsley for garnish and really 70s on it
pineapple is life
- 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced on a mandolin or similar goodfellas, tossed in neutral oil and roasted in a pan at 177°C (350°F) for 10 minutes, or until lightly brown and crispy
- 1 whole pineapple, crown removed and pan roasted at 375°F (190°F) for 2 hours before peeling and chopping
- 113 g smoked country ham, chopped
- 198 g Philly roast pork
- 170 g roasted broccoli
- 3 roasted garlic cloves, chopped
- 4 oz (113 g) natural-gutted peppers, thinly sliced (or cup-and-char peppers)
- 85 g dill pickles, drained and chopped