Recipe Source: The pizza dough was inspired by the Basic Pizza Dough recipe found at Fabulous Foods .
The Big Green Egg, in addition to being a great smoker and grill, also works great as a brick oven. I’ve baked bread in it a number of times, and have been meaning to try pizza. I recently had the opportunity to pick up a pizza stone from our local Big Green Egg dealer (The BBQ Barn, in Arlington, MA) and set about trying to figure out how to make pizza in the Egg.
Normally, if there is something I want to make on the Egg, it is pretty easy to find good advice from the Egghead Forum or from the recipe section of that site. However, I was disappointed to find that there wasn’t a lot of information for pizza – people had posted lots of pictures of pizzas they had made, but I wasn’t able to find a definitive method and recipe for dough, sauce, or technique. A lot of people seemed to be using store bought dough and sauce, and there were several schools of thought on baking temperature and time.
I started off trying to get the dough right. I bake a lot of bread, so this wasn’t intimidating, but a lot of the recipes I found were really basic – just flour, water, and yeast. Yawn. After poking around on the Internet a bit, I came across a recipe on a website called Fabulous Foods that seemed like a good starting point, so I went with it, though I modified it a bit. I had liked the fact that they used honey for flavoring – but when I went to make the dough, I realized we were out of honey, so I substituted turbinado sugar instead. I also added oregano and garlic powder to the dough to give it some additional flavor, and changed the quantity of yeast to be appropriate for the rapid-rise yeast I was using. Finally, I modified the recipe for use with a stand mixer.
Next came the sauce and toppings. Jess took a crack at developing a pizza sauce, which came out pretty good. For toppings, we decided to go pretty basic for our first try. The dough recipe made enough for 2 pies, so we decided to do one as a plain Margherita-style pizza, with slices of fresh mozzarella. For the other, we added sliced portabella mushrooms. Jess’s Italian heritage also makes her hesitant to put anything other than traditional ingredients on a pizza – my suggestions of sundried tomatoes and goat cheese were met with a horrified look. (Note from Fearless Kitchen: and a lot of cursing. I take my pizza very seriously.)
Finally, we needed to determine the cooking technique. From the research I did, there seemed to be two schools of thought. One cooked much like you would in a conventional oven – 400 degrees for 35-40 minutes. While I’m sure this would work fine, and would be a good way to cook if you didn’t have a Big Green Egg, we had two pizzas to make, and only one stone. I didn’t want to have to wait 40 minutes between pizzas, so I leaned toward the high temperature technique. In this approach, the pizzas are cooked at 550 degrees for 7-9 minutes. This develops a nice crispy crust, melts and slightly browns the cheese, and heats everything up nicely. I also figured that this way was probably closer to the ‘real’ method that a pizzeria would use, since they can cook and deliver a pizza in less than ½ hour.
For our first try, these came out really good – I think they were certainly better than our local take out pizza place. The Egg gives a slight smoky flavor to the pizza, giving it that brick oven flavor. While these weren’t the best pizzas we ever had, they were above average, and will serve as a good foundation for us to improve on the flavors and techniques in future tries.
Pizza ala Big Green Egg (Makes 2 approximately 12” pizzas. Approx. Cost Per Serving Not Available)
For the Crust:
1 cup warm water
¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons honey or turbinado sugar
1 teaspoon rapid rise yeast
3 ½ cups bread flour
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons garlic powder
For the Sauce:
Add your favorite pizza sauce. You can make your own, like we did, or use a store bought sauce.
For the Toppings
At a minimum, you will need cheese. We chose to use fresh mozzarella, cut into slices from a ball. You could also use shredded mozzarella, or mix in other cheeses to change the flavor.
For other toppings, you can stay traditional, using pepperoni, sausage, peppers and onions, olives, mushrooms, etc., or you can develop your own combination of flavors, though Jess will insist that this is a flatbread, and not a pizza. For our pizza, we used sliced portabella mushroom caps, which came out really good. We didn’t do anything to prepare them, other than washing them, allowing their natural flavor to come through.
- Stand mixer (as prepared here) or bread machine
- Pizza stone
- Rolling pin
- Parchment paper
- Pizza peal, or cookie sheet with flat edges
1) Mix the water, olive oil, honey or sugar, and yeast in the bowl of your stand mixer. Allow to sit until yeast proofs (yeast activity forms a quantity of bubbles on the surface of the liquid), about 5-10 minutes
2) Add two cups of flour, the salt, and the spices to the bowl. Mix at a low speed using your dough hook – I used speed 2 on my Cuisinart stand mixer – until the ingredients are mixed. Continue to add the remaining flour, a little at a time, until the dough has reached the right consistency, at which point it will form a ball on the dough hook.
3) Increase the speed to the next setting and let the dough kneed for 6 minutes.
4) Remove the dough hook, cover the bowl, and allow the dough to rise for 45 minutes, or until approximately doubled in size.
5) ‘Punch down’ the dough to remove any large air pockets that may have built up. Split the dough in half, and allow to rise for another 45 minutes to 1 hour.
6) Begin preheating your Big Green Egg to a temperature of 550 degrees. I set mine up by filling up with lump charcoal to the top of the firebox, lighting the fire, and inserting the plate setter legs down. I didn’t add any wood for smoke flavor this time, though I may try that in the future. I then used the green ceramic feet that came with the Egg to hold the pizza stone just off the top of the plate setter. Note that it is important to heat up the pizza stone gradually as the Egg heats up. If you put a cold stone into a hot oven, you risk it cracking. Note that if you don’t have a Big Green Egg, you can cook these in your oven – just use a lower temperature and a longer cooking time.
7) While your Egg / oven preheats, flatten out one of the dough balls using your hands, and begin forming it into a circular shape. On a piece of parchment paper, use your rolling pin to form it into a round approximately ¼ inch thick, and sized to fit your pizza stone. Once shaped properly, use your fingers to pinch in and raise the edges to form the crust. Repeat for the second dough ball. If you don’t need two pizzas at once, the dough should keep for a couple of days in the refrigerator, or can be frozen.
8) Add your sauce and toppings of choice to your pizza.
9) Once the Egg / oven is up to temperature, use your pizza peal or a large cookie sheet with a flat edge to pick up the pizza and parchment paper, and slide them onto the pizza stone. The parchment paper will keep the pizza from sticking while still allowing the dough to cook properly. The edges of the paper will char a bit, but won’t catch fire.
10) Cook your pizza for seven to nine minutes, or until the crust and toppings are nicely browned. I used a flashlight to monitor the progress through the top vent of my Egg, starting at 7 minutes.
11) Using your pizza peal or cookie sheet, remove the cooked pizza from the Egg. Cut and serve.