Pizza bakken op de BBQ (deel 2) – #start2bbq
Your BBQ is a much more versatile piece of equipment than you might know when you are just discovering this awesome hobby. Probably you will have found out you can make stuff like Pulled Pork, chicken, … But did you know, you can bake the most delicious pizzas on a lot of BBQ types? It’s probably even easier than you think it is. Some try-outs and you’ll be able to deliver some quite satisfying pizza to your loved ones! Warning, soon you might discover the addiction in baking pizza. I can’t promise you won’t be dragged into a quest of searching the perfect pizza combo. In this post we’ll take a closer look at what it takes to make the best pizza. After the first part in which we focussed on making the dough (read here), I’ll move on to the part where I explain how you can set-up your BBQ and share some tricks to bring your Pizza game to the next level (if you aren’t there allready).
PIZZA BAKING ON THE BBQ
Can I bake a pizza on the Bbq? Sure you can! Anything you can do in an oven is possible on the BBQ as long as your BBQ is equiped with a lid. And as many BBQ lovers can fully support: “It will be even better than you knew before”. Is this also the case for pizza? I won’t deny it. A good Pizza is baked in a red-hot wood-fired oven. Most indoor ovens reach a maximum temperature of 250°C (some, like ours, 300°C). So in most cases you won’t reach the temperature needed to bake the toppings while aiming for a crispy bottom. The chances exist you will end up either with a burned pizza bottom or it will be hard and dry. Some lucky ones might have wood ovens in their home, but most of us don’t. But one thing as a BBQ lover we all have in our garden is that great looking piece of metal or ceramics we love so much: our BBQ.
In order to bake pizza, it is important to aim for the highest possible temperature your BBQ can handle. The reason for this is twofold. On the one hand, it is important in function of your pizza base. The longer the Pizza bakes, the more moisture will be extracted from the dough and the tougher and drier it will become. On the other hand, the cooking of the toppings and the colouring of the cheese are equally important. At a lower temperature it takes much longer before your toppings are cooked. On a hot pizza stone you can already figure out what this will do to your bottom. If it isn’t black by the time your pizza is ready, you run the risk of your dough drying out. This is mostly not a terrible thing, but if you taste a pizza baked at a very high temperature, you’ll notice the difference right away and probably won’t do it again the way you used to bake it before. So try to get the temperature in your BBQ as high as possible (at least +300°C or as in the Naple Pizza ovens up to 400°C).
HOW DO YOU DO THIS?
- Fuel: First of all, the choice of fuel you’re using is important. Never use briquettes to make pizza, they simply don’t get hot enough (read more about it here). For a good heat production, quality charcoal or even finely cleaved wood is very useful. Attention: if you do this with enamelled BBQ’s such as the Weber Kettle, the enamel can come loose from your BBQ and by using wood you risk losing your warranty. In that case it might be advisable to keep your temperature under control at about 250°C).
- Heating the BBQ: In itself this is the easiest part. To get the temperature in your BBQ high enough, it is important to have a good flow of air. You can read the reason for this in this post. Therefore it is important to open all ventilation holes as wide as possible. This way the fresh air can be sucked in from underneath the BBQ and it will circulate along your pizza up to the top ventilation hole where the air can escape again. Gradually the fresh oxygen will keep the fire burning fiercely.
- Setting up the BBQ: A third point to pay attention to while using a Kettle BBQ is the place where you’re going to start the fire and where your upper air vent is located. You want to draw hot air as much as possible above your pizza. So make sure your fire is mainly at the back and place the exhaust at the front so the hot air can cook the toppings. Don’t put coal under the stone, it will get hot enough from the hot air itself. With a kamado this is less applicable as both the coals and the magrite wheel are stuck above and below the pizza stone. In this case it is advisable to place a Deflector plate underneath the pizza stone as a shield so that your pizza stone does not get warmer than necessary.
- Keep it safe! While baking pizza you are working with very high temperatures! Make sure you wear protection that are fire and heat resistant. When using gloves make sure they are dry. Wet surfaces will conduct the heat even better causing serious burning injuries if you don’t pay attention! When using a kamado, make sure you burp the kamado to let some oxygen in the BBQ before opening the lid completely. Open the lid slightly to do so. If you skip this step the sudden increase of oxygen might cause a serious backdraft which will turn your BBQ into a fire spitting dragon (you don’t want to test this).
USE OF A PIZZA STONE
Is the use of a pizza stone an added value when baking your pizza? Sure it is! A good pizza stone is made of ceramics. This stone has the property that (just like the kamado) it can store heat and extract moisture from your pizza dough. This gives your pizza a crispy bottom. At least if you let it warm up well enough in advance and don’t bake the pizza on a baking paper. Although the baking paper helps to make the pizza slide better on the stone, it does negate the effect of the stone (i.e. absorb the moisture from the dough) and you might as well start baking on a metal plate.
USE of a HEAT SHIELD
As mentioned before, it is recommended to use a heat deflector with a kamado when using a pizza stone. Where in the traditional pizza ovens the logs on the stone are in the oven itself on the same height as the pizza. In a BBQ it’s a bit different. The heat comes from underneath the stone so the stone often gets hotter than necessary. To prevent this you can leave a little space between the platesetter and your pizza stone to create a thermal protection between your heat source and the pizza stone. This way the stone is heating by the hot aire circulating around it rather than by the radiant heat of your coals. If you use the Dojoe from kamado Joe (pizza insert) you will notice that the design provides space for both the heat deflectors and the pizza stone just for this reason.
You often read on forums and reviews that pizza stones tend to break easily. Usually this is attributed to the stone itself which would be of poor quality. I often doubt wether this is the case to be honest. The stone is baked at an extremely high temperature in production. It would be a bit of a coincidence if it breaks at your session and didn’t in the baking process. But if it’s not the stone, … why is it breaking? Simply by physics (for more detailed information you can contact my father-in-law, I’ll save you the trouble). If you want to prevent your stone from cracking, make sure that it is dry and you take the time to heat it gently. So don’t put a cold stone in a red-hot BBQ. The termic shock makes it crack instantly (expansion of the air and so on). So gently heat your BBQ with the pizza stone and platesetter in it. This will take a bit longer to get your temperature up, but you’ll have to wait until your stone is hot anyway before you can start baking.
PIZZA BAKING – SOME TIPS
The secret of a delicious BBQ pizza starts with the setup as discussed above. In addition, a nice airy dough that is nicely shaped is at least as important. In part 1 of the series we thought about how to make this dough and shape it to the bottom of your pizza. Be sure to read this if you want to make your own bottom. To cash in on the quality of this preparation, it’s important to keep the time between making the pizza and baking it on the BBQ as short as possible. Below I explain in few steps how I approach it and why.
- Prepare your toppings so you have them immediately to hand. This works faster during the finishing of the pizza hence reducing the time for the dough to stick to the pizza shovel or your working surface.
- Take a large pizza shovel (or other metal plate) and sprinkle it with semola (or flour). This will make the dough stick to the dry flour first and it will be less likely to stick to your pizza shovel which will save you a little bit of time.
- Place the bottom on the pizza shovel and cover with the toppings. Don’t lay your pizza too thick and make sure your passata is covered in a thin layer. The thicker you’ll be topping the pizza, the more likely it is that the dough will soak during preparation, which won’t benefit the end result and will make it more dificult to get the pizza on your stone properly.
- Place the pizza on the BBQ as quickly as possible by pulling it back from the shovel with a firm pull onto the hot stone. This prevents part of the bottom or filling from sticking to the stone or collapsing by placing it in the BBQ.
- Bake the pizza at the highest possible temperature. At a temperature of 300°C, the pizza is baked in just a few minutes. Every 30 seconds (approximately) slide the pizza shovel under the pizza and give it a quarter turn so that the pizza cooks evenly.
Once the pizza is baked, it’s time to enjoy it. Serve the pizza with some fresh herbs on top or with some fresh ruccola. Cut the pizza and serve it to your guests as a snack or on a real pizza feast (although we’ll have to wait a few weeks for that). Hopefully these tips will help you make a nice pizza. If certain things aren’t clear yet or if you have some additional information for this post, please let me know. Don’t hesitate to leave a message on Facebook, instagram or in the comment section below. Have fun baking!