Beer Pizza Crust

makes: 3 15″ pizza crusts
baking pans: pizza stone or screen
oven: 500°

This crust was several months in the making. I started with a standard recipe for Italian bread (water, yeast, salt, and flour). That gave me descent results, but I promise it was nothing to write home about.

Then one day I was sitting with my wonderful wife at Ernesto’s Pizza in Boston. She looks up at me and says, “This crust has beer in it.” Can you believe it? Just like that… without even thinking about it… she hit the nail on the head. The Zen of pizza.

The next weekend, I started with the basic crust, then threw in a Corona® (I didn’t have a Moretti®) and some olive oil. Then bata-bing, bata-boom! out comes the softest, most pliable dough you can imagine.

Before you get started, take a minute to check out the tips for the home pizzeria. Some of what you find there will help you understand what you find here.

ingredients

4 to 5 cups bread flour
4-1/2 teaspoons (2 pkgs) quick yeast
2 or 3 cloves crushed fresh garlic
1 tablespoon sea salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
12 ounces warm beer
4 ounces hot water (120-130°)

optional ingredients (for the baker)

12 ounces cold beer
— or —
5.5 ounces red wine

preparation

In a mixing bowl, combine 2 cups flour, yeast, garlic, salt, and olive oil. Pour in beer, then water and mix thoroughly for 2 minutes, or about 120 strokes.

Stir in the rest of the flour, 1/2 cup at a time, until the dough becomes a rough, shaggy mass that cleans the sides of the bowl. It the dough is too sticky, sprinkle with flour.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead by hand with a rhythmic push-turn-fold motion. It the dough is too sticky, sprinkle with small additions of flour.

Place the dough in a greased bowl (I use olive oil), cover tightly with plastic wrap, and leave at room temperature to rise (30 to 45 minutes).

If preparing the dough the night before, place in a greased bowl, cover tightly, and place in the fridge. On pizza day, remove the dough from the fridge, punch it down, and allow it to come to room temperature before shaping.

shaping

When doubled in bulk, punch the dough down with the fingertips and kneed for 1 minute to press out the bubbles. Put the dough on a lightly floured work surface and cut in thirds with a sharp knife.

Shape each section into a ball and let rest for about 5 minutes. Shape each ball into a flat circle, 6 to 8 inches across and 1 inch or so thick. Allow to rise until doubled in bulk (about 30 to 45 minutes).

Before you throw your crust, sprinkle a liberal amount of cornmeal on your pizza peel. Throw the dough into a circle. [More on that some other day. I’ve got it figured out, but am not sure how to describe it here. For now, I’d advise you to spend about 20 minutes watching the guy at the pizza place.]

If throwing is not an option, there’s no shame in using a rolling pin. Since a pin presses some of the air out of the crust, it takes a bit of the softness out of the crust. All the same, it beats sending it to davey jones locker.

Place the crust on the pizza peel and build your pizza. This is the coolest part of it all! You can have whatever you want, and it’s not $1.50 per topping.

baking

Sprinkle a liberal amount of cornmeal on your pizza stone, and carefully shimmy the pizza off the peel and onto the stone. Cook at 500° for 10 to 12 minutes. The edges of the crust and the toppings should brown a bit.