Are you questioning my math skills? Well, frankly, I can’t say I blame you. But beer and whisky are two key ingredients any time I make pizza.
The beer is for the crust. I’ve tried many, but the absolute BEST for my crust is Waterloo Dark. I’ve tried lagers, IPAs, stouts, reds, even Guinness (my #2, if I was ranking them for pizza crust usage), but none have a flavour that carries through quite the way Waterloo Dark does. (Guinness a somewhat distant second.)
As for whisky, Forty Creek has been my whisky of choice for YEARS now – whether for drinking or cooking. (See my Forty Creek Butter Tarts recipe for example.) And for pizza, it comes into play when I saute my mushrooms. They always get an ounce or two at the start of cooking. It just adds a little something to them.
Ultimately, it all sounds boozier than it is. And if you’re someone who doesn’t keep alcohol in the kitchen, A) what the hell is wrong with you and B) that’s cool. The whisky is only in one of my toppings, and you CAN substitute the beer for … y’know … water. It’ll still make pizza dough, it just won’t be as good. I use alcohol in cooking a lot, but hardly ever drink the stuff. I’m weird like that.
The basic recipe came with our bread machine many years ago (that’s pretty much only used for pizza dough these days, even though it’s a good machine) and I’ve tweaked it a bit, and found the best beer for me through many trials. IF your yeast is a little old – let’s face it, unless you make bread constantly, you don’t do through a whole jar of yeast within a few months of opening it … at least I don’t – I’ll add an extra half teaspoon to make sure it rises well.
The dough is pretty flexible. You can just use it as a straight up flat pizza dough, calzones, or our favourite – stuffed crust. I’m going to try my hand at Chicago-style deep dish in a cast iron pan soon. Going for something like a Beggar’s Pizza deep dish. It our favourite pizza stop any time we’re in northwest Indiana. I think they have a connection to the Chicago Bears too. All I know is it’s the only place I’ve had a pizza slice that’s heavier than my own. LOL
I do like to pre-bake the crust a bit before adding sauce and toppings. About 6 minutes is normally good. Without it, I find that the sauce tends to mingle with the raw dough a bit too much, and turns into a sort of mushy/gummy layer between the bottom of the crust and the toppings.
One of the only topping combos we can all agree on in our house is Italian sausage and mushrooms. So it’s normally what we make if my daughter is home from school. Otherwise we’ll add onions to the mix, and maybe red or green peppers too.
As for cheese, I keep it on the cheat and easy. Yes, cheat. I buy bags of shredded cheese for the most part. It’s just quicker and easier than grating. Pizza mozzarella is always good, but I’ve always been a fan of a blend, like Tex Mex with cheddar and Monterrey jack. Too much cheddar tends to get oily though.
I’ve never had this pizza turn out poorly. The worst I’ve had, when experimenting with beers, was a dough that didn’t get much of the beer flavour after it was baked. No matter what I tried, I ALWAYS come back to Waterloo Dark for this. It just holds up well to the whole cooking process. Your tastes may vary.
If you don’t have a bread machine … uh … well, this probably isn’t the recipe for you. Although I’m sure it could be mixed by hand and left to rise like you would a traditional dough. But I’ve never tried it that way before.
The Only Pizza Dough You’ll Ever Need
- bread machine with dough cycle
- Measuring cups/spoons
- Rolling Pin
- pizza pan
- 1½ cups dark beer ROOM TEMPERATURE! Waterloo Dark is my favourite, on Ontario brew
- 4¼ cups bread flour white or whole wheat, your choice
- 2 tsp bread machine yeast
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp honey heaping (probably close to 1½, honestly)
- 1½ tsp salt
- Measure everything into the bread machine pan in the order listed. (Beer, flour, yeast, olive oil, honey, salt)
- Put the pan in the bread machine and power it on.
- Select the DOUGH cycle (#11 on my Breadman) and press start.
- Wait until it is finished. I think it's about 1:15 on my machine.
- Remove the pan full of dough (which will smell AMAZING) from the bread machine and place on lightly floured surface. A sheet of parchment paper will also work just fine here, in my experience.
- Cover the dough with a large mixing bowl and let it rest for 10-15 minutes.
- Divide the dough in half.
- If not using both right away, wrap one in cling wrap and refrigerate. I've kept it in the fridge for 2-3 days without any issues numerous times.
- Lightly flour your counter top and roll out the dough to the size/thickness you want it.
- Preheat oven to 425°F.
- See notes below for options. There are a few ways you can proceed, depending on your preferences.
- Bake for 16-20 minutes, until crust is golden and cheese is bubbling and browning.
- Remove from oven and let cool for about 5 minutes before slicing. You get cleaner cuts, and less cheese stuck to your pizza cutter! Also, lower risk of burning off the roof of your mouth when you try eating it while it's still way too hot.