Written Recipes
The Pizza Quest Challenge Pizza Dough
Peter Reinhart

This is a small batch recipe for making the Challenge Dough that is used in the pizza that we will be making for the public for the first time on September 30th in Denver at 7 PM at the Summit Beer Garden, just a few blocks from The Great American Beer Festival.  The ingredients that distinguish this from typical pizza crusts are the flour and crystal malt.  The flour that we are using is called Germania, milled by our friends at Central Milling (the actual mill is in Utah and the main office is in Petaluma, CA).  It is made in the Double Zero style, which means a super fine grind, but with protein levels near 12% (higher than its Italian counterpart and thus more absorbent of water).  In addition to two types of wheat flour in this blend, there is also a small amount of pumpernickel rye flour. The actual amount is a proprietary company secret but in our version, for those who can't get their hands on Germania -- which you would have to buy directly from Central Milling (see the end of the recipe) -- I will give some suggestions below for creating your own version.  The malt crystal is a non-diastatic powder, meaning that the diastase enzymes found in barley malt have been deactivated during heat treatment and thus it is used strictly for flavor and not for it's enzyme function. We use approx. 4% malt to flour, which is a generous amount. Three ways to obtain the malt is through beer making supply stores or to go to your favorite micro-brewery and ask to buy some from them, or, when you call Central Milling to buy this flour, ask them if you can buy a pound of the malt (that's where I got mine). OR, you can buy barley malt syrup from a natural foods market or from your local bagel store, where you can plead your case  -- some bagel shops will sell you some and others won't. The syrup is not exactly the same as the crystal but it still adds that nice malted barley flavor that evokes the flavors of malty beer and makes this an ideal pizza crust to enjoy while you're quaffing down your favorite brew.

Note: This is not a beer dough, that is, I don't use beer as the liquid. You can always do that but I think it is a waste of good beer. Dough is solid beer--you are fermenting the grain in a dough form not a liquid form as you would with beer. So, while beer can work as a hydrating liquid it is somewhat redundant if you have the malt instead. Of course that's up to you and, if you want to sacrifice a pint in the dough to see how it affects the flavor, go for it. As for me, I'll be taking mine from a cold mug.




The Pizza Quest Challenge Dough (makes five 8 ounce/227 g dough balls)

For best results, this dough should be made at least one day in advance--it will also hold in the refrigerator for up to 3 days with good results. Any longer than 3 days and the dough will weaken (start to break down), though it can last for months if shaped into dough balls and frozen in small freezer zip bags.




22 ounces (624 grams) Germania flour or a blend of 20 oz./567 g of your favorite bread or Double Zero flour and 2 oz./56 g of pumpernickel or coarse rye flour or rye meal).  If you don't have a scale, this will be approx. 4 3/4 cups of flour.

0.5 oz/14 g. salt (a scant 2 teaspoons or 2 1/2 teaspoons if using coarse kosher or coarse sea salt)

1 oz./28 g crystal beer malt (light or dark--I use amber) or 1 1/2 tablespoons barley malt syrup

0.11 oz/3 g instant yeast (1 teaspoon)  OR, 1 1/4 teaspoons dry active yeast dissolved in 4 ounces of the water for about 3 to 5 minutes

16 oz/452 g  water, room temp. (if using Caputo or another Italian Double Zero, reduce the water to 14 oz/399 g)

--In an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, or in a mixing bowl with a large spoon, mix the dough on slow speed for 1 minute, or until the dough is fully hydrated and all the ingredients are evenly distributed (instant yeast goes right into the flour--it does not need to be bloomed in water, while active dry yeast does need dissolving, as described above, by pulling 4 oz. of water from the total). The dough will be coarse and shaggy at this point, and all the ingredients need to be hydrated.

--Let the dough rest for 5 minutes and then mix again on medium speed for 1 additional minute (or knead by hand on a clean, lightly oiled work surface), until the dough is fully developed (you can stretch a small piece very thin without it tearing to make translucent membrane). Adjust the water or flour as needed to make a very soft and supple, very tacky, almost sticky dough. If the dough is too weak to hold together, mix for an additional minute or so. If too sticky to work, sprinkle in more flour as needed. If too stiff, drizzle in a little water, one teaspoon at a time.

--Form the dough into a ball by stretching and folding it, place it into a lightly oiled bowl large enough to accommodate it if it doubles in size, mist the top with spray oil or brush a small amount of oil on the surface, cover with plastic wrap (the whole bowl, not the dough), and let the dough sit at room temperature for 15 minutes. Stretch and fold the dough again (either in the bowl or on the counter) and return it to the bowl, mist with spray oil, and cover the bowl again with the plastic wrap. Then, place the bowl into the refrigerator where it will continue to rise overnight before going dormant. As noted above, you can use it anytime for up to 3 days or you can divide it immediately into dough balls and freeze them; they will keep for at least 3 months in the freezer where, when ready to use again, you transfer the frozen dough balls to the refrigerator the day before you plan to bake the pizzas and then treat as you would freshly made dough.

--Remove the bowl of dough 2 hours before you plan to make the pizzas and divide the dough into 5 equal (approx. eight oz.) dough balls. Place the dough balls on a sheet pan or tray that has been lightly misted with spray oil. Keep them as separated as possible. Mist the top of the dough balls with spray oil and cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap, or place it into a can liner, to keep the dough from forming a skin. The dough will slowly wake up and start to swell. If the room is very warm, reduce the wake-up time to 60 or 90 minutes instead of 2 hours.

--Prepare your ingredients and oven for pizza making. A baking stone is recommended. Set your home oven as high as it will go (convection is fine); if using a wood-fired oven, the deck should be about 550 degrees F/288 C, and the ambient ceiling temperature should be at least 800 degrees F/427 C.  The pizzas will take 5 to 8 minutes to bake in a home oven and about 2 to 3 minutes in a wood fired oven.  If using a pizza stone in a home oven, let it preheat for at least 45 minutes.

For more specific details on how to shape or make a pizza, toppings, and sauces refer to our Instructional videos, photos, and recipes, or obtain a copy of "American Pie: My Search for the Perfect Pizza."

To buy Germania Flour and malt crystal, contact Central Milling at (707) 778-1073, or visit their website at www.centralmilling.com/


Tony Gemignani's Coney Island Pizza
Brad English

As many of you know, Chris Bianco has joined forces with Rob DiNapoli of DiNapoli Specialty Foods.  They have come up with a new product that Chris had been nudging Rob to create for some time.  There has been a limited supply of their new Bianco DiNapoli Organic Tomatoes available at some select pizzerias and restaurants and we have been lucky enough to be "in the loop!"  I happen to be sitting on a small supply.  So, I recently decided to use them here at home and make some pizzas to play with that set the tomatoes up as the star.  Since we are running a series on Tony Gemignani and I know he's one of the other lucky ones to have a supply of these tomatoes, I thought I would pick a few of his pizzas to re-make here at home.

The first one I started with was his Coney Island Pizza.  This is one of his creations that features the Bianco DiNapoli tomatoes that are simply hand crushed and placed on the pie with a little added sea salt.  It also has a number of other ingredients that sing that siren song to me: hot peppers, spicy pork products, roasted yellow peppers, and a blend of cheeses.

I had some of our Signature Bruery Beer Dough on hand (hidden in my freezer) from our last filming event down at the Bruery, so I used that.  Following is the recipe and photos.

But, there's a big "aha moment" I'd like to share.  As I was making this pizza, and setting up to make a few more afterward, my son Owen was circling the kitchen like a Great White waiting for the pizza to come out of the oven.  "Dad, when's the pizza going to be ready?"  You all know how that goes.  I'm covered in flour, sauce, taking pictures, chopping vegetables, laying out the next set of ingredients, and I keep getting the occasional bump from my growing little Great White.  Anyway, I finished the first pizza, and he came in for his feeding, taking a slice and going to the table. 

My wife, was helping me, as I worked on the next pizza.  Out of nowhere Owen says: "Dad -- this sauce is awesome!"  I looked at Shanna, who knew that I was making all of these pizzas to play with Chris and Rob's new tomatoes, but Owen (age 12) had no idea.  This really hit me.  The sauce was just the tomatoes processed through my fingers into a bowl.  That's it.  I didn't even add any sea salt, because I figured there was plenty of other things going on with the salted pork and peppers.  Maybe Rob and Chris got to Owen in a plot to make their sauce really stand out?  I don't know.  He hasn't purchased anything new with a secret source of income recently.  So, I'll just say, "Wow!"  And, it was good.  Each of the tomato pies I made that day were really good.  I'll post the rest of them in the coming weeks….

Tony Gemignani's Coney Island Pizza (Brad's Version)

Pizza Quest Signature Beer Dough (or use your favorite pizza dough)
Mozzarella (low moisture, full fat)
Hand Crushed Bianco DiNapoli Tomatoes (the secret ingredient -- but try it with your favorite  brand or canned plum tomatoes until they make it available to the public, whenever that may be)
Spicy Coppa
Calabrese Peppers
Roasted Yellow Peppers
Serrano Chiles

I went to my local Whole Foods to get some of the ingredients.  I really wanted to find good quality ingredients to put together with these tomatoes.  I had to make some substitutions while at the store, because certain things in Tony's original version were not available.  That is part of the fun -- trying something new, or finding an exciting option.  I couldn't find any Calabrese Peppers so I picked up some Hatch Peppers.  Apparently, these are the "hot" item these days when they're available (only this time of the year).  I now see why!  They are spicy -- very hot when raw, but I noticed that they became almost sweet when baked into my pizza. They're still hot, but not overpowering.  I also found a great Spicy Coppa Piccante from La Quercia that was perfect for this pizza.

--Shape your Dough
--Add grated Mozzarella on top of the dough
--Top with Hand Crushed Bianco DiNapoli Tomatoes (or, any other high quality tomato)
--Add the Coppa Piccante slices
--Add sliced Hatch Peppers and Roasted Yellow Peppers
--Add Chopped Serrano Chili
--Top with Grated Provolone

Into the pre-heated oven it goes, on a preheated baking stone if possible (make it as hot as your oven allows). Nobody knows for how long.  Ok, maybe we know - about 8-10 minutes for me, maybe less if your oven is hotter than mine.

I mucked up my dough on this pie in the photo -- having it a little too thin in the middle and it ripped somewhat and the pizza wasn't perfect.  So much effort, shopping, chopping, grating, hand crushing down the drain?  But, that's only if we were just talking about the photos.  This pizza rocked!  As Owen said, the sauce was incredible.  The blend of ingredients makes this one of my favorite pizzas in a while (I say that a lot, I guess).  But it will become a regular in my house for sure -- at least as long as those tomatoes hold out.  The hatch peppers were great, you can see I didn't add too many after tasting them raw, but next time I won't be so shy. 

Take a whirl at this one, and let us know what you come up with…



Teresa's Dessert Pizza
Teresa Greenway

Lately I have been thinking a lot about  some ways to enjoy dessert pizzas that you could get excited about and have your family and friends talking about too.

I thought maybe a cheesecake base with fresh fruit on top would be a satisfying, delicious ending to a pizza party, picnic or camp out. This pizza is great tasting while it’s still hot, cooled down or even cold from the fridge.  I experimented with different ways to bake the pizza and work the toppings to the best advantage of eye appeal and taste.

With the first pizza, I par-baked the crust (I always use a sourdough crust but you could, theoretically, use any favorite crust) and then spread the cheesecake topping on, sprinkled on the fruit (fresh blueberries), then returned the pizza to the oven to finish baking.

The pizza tasted great and looked good too. However the crust edge on a par-baked pizza tends to be thick because the par-baking will cause the dough to puff up in the middle and spread the dough outwards towards the edge. I like a bubbly edge to my pizza.

So for the second pizza I spread the uncooked dough with the cheesecake topping, sprinkled on the fresh fruit and baked the pizza for seven minutes at 550F degrees. The pizza had a nice bubbly edge a, really nice crust and tasted great. However, the fruit (the strawberries) looked a little “baked,” so the eye appeal suffered somewhat. Baking fresh fruit can cause it to look watery. This problem could be solved by choosing fruit that looks good baked at a high temperature (like the blueberries) or fruits that are already prepared, like sliced dried fruit, drained sliced peaches which were packed in juice, prepared apple pie filling etc. The peaches and apples would taste great sprinkled with a touch of cinnamon. I also think that a dessert pizza with a raspberry filling, chopped nuts and a crumb topping would be nice. Or maybe chopped apples, nuts, and figs drizzled with honey would bake up well. I have also been thinking of a pear/pecan pizza with a cinnamon crumb topping. The ideas are apparently endless. I would like to hear some of your ideas… Instead of dessert, some of these ideas would work for a breakfast treat as well.

On the third pizza, I baked with only the cheesecake filling and placed the fresh fruit on top right after removing the pizza from the oven , while the filling was still hot. The eye appeal on this pizza was just right. However, the fruit liked rolling off of the sliced pizza. I think if you were using a prepared filling, like a cherry pie, apple pie, or glazed fruit filling, you wouldn’t have the problem of the fruit rolling off and have a really great looking pizza.  The cheesecake filling tends to get a bit browner if you do not watch the baking time closely with this option.


On my next dessert pizza, I think I will go with the second baking method, bake the pizza with the filling and fruit and use blueberries or a prepared fruit topping. That would be my choice mainly because I liked the crust with that option and I love blueberries.

Now I find myself wondering about a lemon meringue pizza….. ?

To find the complete recipe for Berry Cheesecake Dessert Pizza visit: http://www.northwestsourdough.com/discover/?p=2321


Chris Bianco's Bianco Verde with a twist...
Brad English

As many of you saw in a recent Guest Column, my sister finally made the trip to Pizzeria Bianco last month (a trip, I have yet to make)!  If you read her story, you can see how she tortured me for years - teasing me about her trips to visit family in Phoenix and the possibility of going, and then after, baiting me with texts and emails; or her plans "got in the way" and she couldn't make it.  She thought she was soooooo - ooooh so funny.  She thought it was finally payback for the Big Brother thing!  But, as you read, who really suffered - missing all those opportunities to enjoy pizza at that level? 

So now I'm on my tomato quest, using Chris Bianco's new organic tomatoes - Bianco DiNapoli Organic Tomatoes.  I am making pizzas that will allow me to really taste these tomatoes as I try them out for the first time here at home.  As I browsed Pizzeria Bianco's menu online, a pizza jumped off the page at me - the Biancoverde Pizza!  It has Fresh Mozzarella, Parmigiano Reggiano, Ricotta, and Arugula.  That sounds delicious.  But, there are no tomatoes!  What to do?  Wait!  The bells went off. The sassy sister had the Biancoverde, but had added some tomato sauce to it.  I thought that would not only be a perfect pizza to try to make, but also

A Brick Wood/Gas Grill Oven Project
Brad English

I am not the first to venture into how to bring fire and wood together to cook a pizza.  So, while making great pizza is all about balancing time, temperature and ingredients, it is also about the type of heat to a great extent. You can bake a pizza with a brick floor (brick oven), cook it in a live fired wood burning oven, which brings smoke and a more intense heat into the picture, you can cook it in your home oven on a pizza stone at lower - slower temperatures, or even cook a great pizza on your grill.  The possibilities may be endless.  The important thing is to balance time and temperature (heat!) with your ingredients and you can make great pizza.

I stumbled on adding fire to my home pizza making experience when I decided to grill a pizza.  I had added a wood smoker box into my gas grill and it seemed to cut the cooking time by almost 40%.  My home oven pizzas generally take between 8-10 minutes to bake.  This one baked in 6 minutes!  It also had fire, wood, and smoke added into the equation.  Of course, I do intend to get




Login Form

Who's Online

We have 39 guests online

Peter's Books

American Pie Artisan Breads Every Day Bread Baker's Apprentice Brother Juniper's Bread Book Crust and Crumb Whole Grain Breads

… and other books by Peter Reinhart, available on Amazon.com

Home Instructionals Written Recipes