I knew I had put off the grilled pizza write-up long enough already when I was at a rooftop party in downtown Providence Sunday evening, and a writer friend of mine started gently needling me about it. Thanks for the kick in the pants, Jan.

I’m going to do this in installments, if that’s okay. I’ll be including recipes and photos, and if I put it all in one single post, it would just be too damn long, so screw that.

Let’s start with the pizza dough. The crust is a crucial element of a great pizza; it’s the base, so you want it to be good. This dough is my current favorite; it’s easy to make, and I love how it tastes. I want to continue tinkering with it, though, trying to make it more better, but this is the latest.

You’ll need to plan in advance for this: I like to allow my dough to rise overnight. As baking guru Peter Reinhart writes in The Bread Baker’s Apprentice:

[Overnight fermentation] gives the enzymes time to go to work, pulling out subtle flavors trapped in the starch. The long rest also relaxes the gluten, allowing you to shape the dough easily, minimizing the elastic springiness that so often forces you to squeeze out all the gas.

If the thought of squeezing out the gas makes you giggle like a child, you’re not alone.

My recipe is adapted from Mario Batali’s Italian Grill, and my technique includes instructions for using a Kitchenaid stand mixer to mix and knead the dough.

3 cups all-purpose flour*
1 pkg active dry yeast
1 cup warm water
1 tbsp. salt
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. sugar
¼ cup white wine or dry vermouth (at room temp)

*As with all bread baking, you may have to adjust this, depending on humidity level. I normally use King Arthur organic unbleached AP flour, or a roughly 50-50 blend of AP and Kenyon’s stone-ground whole wheat flour. Reinhart, however, recommends you use no more than 10% whole-wheat or rye to substitute for an equal quantity of white flour. This is exactly the kind of thing I want to play with next time around.

Dissolve yeast in warm water in the warmed bowl of a stand mixer. Add salt, sugar, olive oil, wine or vermouth, and half of the flour. Attach bowl and dough hook to mixer. Turn to speed 2 and mix about 1 minute.

Continuing on speed 2, add remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, and mix until dough clings to hook and pulls away from sides of bowl. Knead on speed 2 for another 2 minutes.

At this point, you can divide the dough and freeze some of it for later use, or you can prepare it all for tomorrow’s pizza. I take whatever quantity I’m planning to use and put it in an oiled bowl, covered with plastic wrap. I place that in the fridge overnight. (It will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days.)

On the day I’m making the pizza, I remove the dough from the fridge two hours before making the pizza. I’ll address what comes next when I get to the post on building the pizza.

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