I heart pizza. In my eyes, even when it’s bad, it’s still alright. I mean, how can you go wrong when crusty bread and warm melted cheese serve as the foundation on which most pizzas, great and small, are built apon.
Though pizzas are quite readily available at many a restaurant, over the phone, the Internet and heck, even in a shopping mall food court or the freezer section of any supermarket if you’re desperate enough, there’s a certain sense of satisfaction to be had when attempting to make pizza at home, especially for the first time.
While I was at the Good Food & Wine Show earlier this year, I had the opportunity to sample a four cheese pizza made by an award winning pizza maker. One of the cheeses, a smoke cheddar, brought out a lovely smokey note to the pizza. It’s something that’s stuck in the back of my mind ever since.
So with that smokey note in mind, it seemed only natural for me to take that sublime smokiness to another level by incorporating as many smokey elements into the pizza as possible. Smokey pizza sauce base, smokey pepperoni and, of course, some smokey cheddar cheese.
Smokey BBQ Pepperoni Pizza
The mise en place for my Smokey BBQ Pepperoni Pizza consists of the following ingredients:
Pizza base, adapted from Heston Blumental’s recipe from the In Search of Perfection TV series (makes 4 single serve pizzas)
- 350g flour, with a high protein content (11g per 100g or 11% in my case).
- 195g tepid water (not pictured)
- 1/2 tsp of malt syrup
- 1 tsp salt
- 7g instant yeast (approx. 1 sachet)
- oil or oil spray
Toppings (per serve of pizza)
- 8 slices of pepperoni
- 1/4 cup of mozzarella cheese, grated
- 1/4 cup of smoked cheddar cheese, grated
- 1-2 tbsp smokey BBQ sauce (not pictured)
With the ingredients in the above image, standard supermarket varieties were used. However, feel free to up the ante and use artisan products. This would no doubt turn up the flavour quotient to 11!
- In a large mixing bowl, add the flour and create a well in the centre.
- Combine the water & malt syrup together, and pour the water/syrup mixture into the well.
- Incorporate all the flour into the liquid until a dough ball forms.
- Dust a little flour onto a clean work surface.
- Remove the ball of dough from the bowl and proceed to need the dough for approx. 10 minutes.
- Place the dough back into the bowl and allow to rest for 15 mins. Once rested, when the dough is stretched, it should be soft and somewhat elastic.
- Add the salt and yeast into the bowl, and proceed to kneed into the dough until its just incorporated.
- Remove the dough from the bowl and proceed to kneed for another 10 minutes.
- Portion the dough into four equal portions.
- With each of the four dough portions, roll the dough until it forms a smooth ball.
- Rub or spray a little oil onto a tray.
- Place the dough balls into the oiled tray, making sure to allow for plenty of room for the dough to double in size.
- Cover the dough with oiled plastic wrap and leave for approx. 2 hours.
After two hours, the dough ball should look something like this.
- Place the dough on a floured work surface.
- Use your hands to form a thin pizza base, making sure to spread out the dough evenly.
- Place the pizza base onto a baking tray.
- Apply the smokey bbq sauce to the pizzza base.
In my case, I used a Smoked Pepper Marinade manufactured by Maxwells Treats (website). It is the best smokey bbq sauce that I’ve come across to date. However, feel free to substitute whatever variety of smokey barbecue sauce you favour or you find readily available.
- Add the grated cheese.
- Lay out the pepperoni slices evenly over the pizza.
- Place the pizza into a preheated 250 degrees Celsius oven.
- Remove from oven once the base has browned and is crisped, approx. 3-5 mins.
Your pizza should end up looking something like it.
The pizza has a sublime smokey taste throughout. The smokey elements from the sauce, cheese and pepperoni work together without overpowering each other. The base has a wonderfully crispy crust on the bottom, while the rest of the base is pleasantly chewy.
If you find that the base is done before the top of the pizza has cooked (like I had with my first batch), remove the pizza from the oven and place under a grill until the cheese develops a nice brown crust. Depending on your oven, you may need to play around with temperature and cooking time until you get the right balance so that you don’t need to resort to the grill quick-fix.
The cheese cooked just the way I like it. Yum!
The wonderful brown crust of the underside of the pizza.
If making the pizza dough is too much effort, or you get somewhat peckish during the two hour waiting period as you wait for the dough to rise, you could still make the most of these wonderfully smokey ingredients by substituting the pizza base for bread slices and toast them under the grill.
Just make sure that when you do, that you toast one side of the bread first under the grill, then turn over and then place the ingredients onto the untoasted side before placing it back into the grill. That way you’ll end up with a nice, crusty bottom rather than a soft, soggy one.
Even on toasted bread, pepperoni and cheese looks so good!
Feel free to give this recipe a go, or at the very least the pizza base portion of it. That way you could let your imagination run wild with recipe ideas and flavour combinations.
If you were to make your own pizza at home, what sort of pizza would you make?