How to Make Pizza from Scratch with a Grill and a Pizza Stone
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Out of all the things that you can cook on a grill, it seems that pizza would not be on that list. However, I’ve recently done a shoot that involved custom-making pizzas and cooking them on an outdoor grill, opposed to cooking it in an oven.
Making a pizza on the grill is just like making any other pizza- you first make a simple pizza dough with 1 ½ cups water, 1 tbsp. sugar, 1 and a half packets of yeast, 3 tbsp. vegetable oil, 3 ¾ Cups of flour, and 1 ½ tsp. salt, add the toppings you want onto it, and it’s ready to cook on a pizza stone.
I enjoy making homemade pizza because it’s a very cheap dinner that makes everyone happy, it’s good for larger groups as they can make what they want and it keeps everyone entertained, and they can make however many pizzas they want. The pizzas come out somewhat small, but every pizza can be custom made. The vegetables, meats, cheeses and toppings are all different than what one would usually make a pizza with, which makes for an interesting dinner and photoshoot. You could also change the type of sauce base for the pizzas, such as olive oil and marinara. You could also use other Italian sauces, like pesto or alfredo sauce.
The most popular toppings for these pizzas:
I started this shoot by pre-cutting some fresh vegetables the day before the shoot so I don’t waste time that could be spent shooting pizzas. The pizzas can be made in two ways: on a pizza stone (which I prefer) or on an open griddle (which I’ve never tried before). Cooking with a pizza stone is quite tricky, as you have to put it on the grill when the grill is cold, and they must heat up together. If the pizza stone is put into a grill that is already hot, it will crack and destroy the pizza stone. The pizza stone must also cool along with the grill, as it’ll be quite hot for a while. The grill gets quite hot and the pizzas cook quite fast, so you have to put on all the toppings you want very quickly.
After rolling the pizza dough, keeping the dough out of the sun is important, preferably inside. If the dough is left out in the sun for too long, the dough will get sticky and will be hard to deal with. The dough could also dry out, ruining the dough. If this happens, you can just mix the dough in a bowl and re-roll it. I stack pans on top of each other with the dough already rolled out on them. When doing this, spray both sides of the pan with cooking spray oil, and the pans will not stick together with the dough. It’s also important to keep the ingredients cool, as cheese can melt very easily and the vegetables can start to dry out if left in the sun. I keep the ingredients cool in a tub full of ice, so that my ingredients don’t melt, while also being able to keep them outside and easily accessed while making a pizza. You could also leave all of the ingredients in the shade.
If you are hosting a large party or need to make several pizzas quickly, I’ve found that using two pizza stones is very efficient. Although it can be overwhelming to have to manage two pizzas at the same time, you can go through about 12 pizzas in half an hour. In order to not burn the pizza and still have it cook quickly, keeping the grill at a lower temperature (around 400°-500°F) is important. If your grill has a multiple racks for cooking, I recommend taking out the racks that you don’t need while cooking the pizzas, so you can easily access the pizza for putting on toppings or taking it out.
I enjoy making these pizzas because there’s so many choices when making your own pizza. Mozzarella goes very good on the pizza as it will melt quickly on the grill, and make for a perfect cheese pizza. A wide arrangement of vegetables such as mushrooms, zucchini, and onions make for a perfect vegetarian pizza, or meats such as pepperoni and bacon make for a good addition to any pizza. With all of these combinations, making pizzas on the grill is both a great dinner and an entertaining way to spend an evening. Shooting the pizzas is just as great, as the pizzas often come out quite colorful and look amazing on camera. The only bad part of shooting the pizza making process is that nobody wants to make a pizza for me, as I’ve been shooting while everyone’s been eating.
Shooting on the grill, though a great opportunity to get some great photos and video, can sometimes be a challenge. As I’m not in the studio, where I have control over my lights, the lighting outside can be unpredictable and can get in the way of my shoots. Dealing with the sun is hard, as my backyard patio isn’t covered by any shadow from trees or neighboring houses. To remedy this, I often use a polarizing filter to suppress glare, or an ND (neutral density) filter to reduce the intensity of light and colors. I’ve been using the ND filter more often as it has dynamic lighting that I can manually adjust. Sticking to one filter ensures that I don’t have to be changing filters multiple times during a shoot, along with my camera settings.
Making homemade pizzas on the grill is a perfect idea for any type of gathering or celebration, as it serves as both a meal and entertainment that everyone can come together for. It also makes for a great shoot as I can capture many different pizzas, and proves as a great opportunity to get out of the studio.
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