8.20.13 Smoky Barbecue Pizza with Roasted Corn and Tomatoes
Pizza is probably one of my favorite foods of all time. Infinitely customizable toppings, gooey cheese, and a nice crispy crust all combine to create culinary perfection. I love that I could make pizza every day for a week, but never have the same kind twice. Plus, any leftovers you have make for an awesome breakfast - need I say more?
Now in my opinion, the key thing with pizza is getting the crust right. You could have an amazing sauce and loads of great toppings, but if your crust doesn’t hold up, your pizza will only taste so-so. As a pizza lover, I find this unacceptable, so I’ve been working to discover the best way to make a great crust. Let me enlighten you.
As with bread making, the first key to a great crust is developing a good gluten network, which is a lot easier than it sounds. Essentially, you want to make sure to mix your dough (either hand knead, or with a dough hook if you’re lucky enough to own a good mixer) until the dough passes what’s known as the ‘windowpane test’. This means that if you take a piece of dough and stretch it, the dough should stretch into a thin membrane you can almost see through (like a windowpane) before it breaks. If it breaks before this point, it needs to be kneaded some more.
Generally, I’ve found that it takes about 6-8 minutes of kneading to get the dough to this point. If you don’t develop a good enough gluten network, your crust will seem very heavy and dense, so while it takes a little extra kneading, this is an important step.
The other trick to making a good crust is making sure that it cooks properly. This may sound like common sense, but is not as straightforward as it seems. Unless you have an actual pizza oven in your house (if you do, please invite me over asap!), your conventional oven isn’t going to get hot enough to cook a thick crust properly before burning all of your toppings beyond recognition. So this means making your crust as thin as possible. I like to stretch my dough to fully cover a baking sheet, which ensures it will be nice and thin. This will produce a perfectly thin crust, which will come out nice and crispy at the same time your toppings are exuding perfectly cooked deliciousness and your cheese is a bubbling golden brown.
Of course, a great crust isn’t a pizza without some delicious toppings to accompany it. So I’m including a recipe for a delicious pizza I recently made with homemade chipotle barbecue sauce, roasted corn, and tomatoes. But of course, you can always use whatever toppings you have on hand. Go ahead, be creative. And if you have leftovers? Just throw an over-easy egg on top and you’ve got breakfast covered.
Smoky Barbecue Pizza with Roasted Corn and Tomatoes
I used a Hook’s smoked cheddar for this recipe, but any sort of smoked cheese would be delicious here. Also, some bacon would be fantastic on this pizza, but alas, I happened to be completely out of bacon (!?!) when I went to make this. But you should totally throw some Nueske’s on your pizza and let me know how it turns out.
- Pizza Dough (recipe follows)
- 1 tsp cornmeal
- 1 cup Chipotle Barbecue Sauce (recipe follows)
- 1 to 2 large ripe tomatoes, sliced or 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
- ¼ c chopped green onions
- 1 ear sweet corn, shucked
- 2 cups smoked cheddar cheese
- 2 Tbsp chopped cilantro
1. Grease a 12" X 17" baking sheet with cooking spray and sprinkle it with the cornmeal. Place dough in the center of the pan and spread all the way to the edges, spreading dough as thinly as you can without tearing it. Let pizza dough rest while oven heats and you prep your toppings. (hint - if you’re having trouble spreading the dough all the way to the edges, spread it as far as you can, then let it rest for about 5 minutes. After resting, it will be easier to finish spreading the dough all the way to the edges of the pan).
2. Turn broiler on high and place corn on a baking sheet on the top rack of the oven, directly below the broiler. Broil, until corn kernels are slightly browned, about 5 minutes. Flip corn over, and brown other side (3-5 minutes longer). Remove corn from oven, cool slightly, then cut kernels off the cob.
3. Turn off broiler and preheat oven to 450 degrees.
4. Top prepared pizza dough with the chipotle barbecue sauce, spreading evenly to coat. Top evenly with tomatoes, green onions, roasted corn and cheese.
5. Bake pizza for 15-20 min, or until crust is browned and cheese is melted and golden.
6. Top pizza evenly with the chopped cilantro, slice and enjoy!
Makes 1 large 12” by 17” pizza
- ¾ c warm water
- 1 t active dry yeast
- 1 T honey
- 2 c flour (preferably bread flour)
- 1 t salt
1. Dissolve yeast and honey in water, let sit for 5 minutes.
2. Combine the flour and salt and a large bowl. Make a well in the center and add the liquid ingredients, stirring until ingredients are just combined. Let sit for 10-20 minutes. (note: this sitting stage allows the gluten network to start forming through hydration, which will cut down on your overall kneading time by about 50%. If you’d rather not wait, you can start kneading immediately, and you will just end up needing to work the dough for about 6-8 minutes to build up a sufficient gluten network).
3. Knead dough until a smooth cohesive ball forms and dough passes the ‘windowpane test’ (should take about 2-4 minutes if you rested the dough in the previous step, otherwise about 6-8 minutes).
4. Spray a bowl with cooking spray, put dough into bowl, turning to coat both sides of dough with oil. Cover bowl and let sit at room temperature for 60-90 minutes, or until dough has doubled in size.
Chipotle Barbecue Sauce
makes about 1 cup
- ½ c ketchup
- ½ c water
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste
- 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 Tbsp honey
- 1 Tbsp brown sugar
- 1 canned chipotle chili pepper in adobo sauce, finely chopped
- 1 tsp adobo sauce
- 1 tsp dijon mustard
- 1 tsp Worchestershire
- ½ tsp granulated garlic
- ¼ tsp salt
1. Stir all ingredients together in a small saucepan until combined. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and cool slightly.