Pizza Crust with Homebrew Ingredients

posted Oct 2, 2013, 10:04 AM by Richard Bryant
by Jeremy Wickham

I bought a couple vials of beer yeast to make that tasty adult beverage I've been wanting to make, but I never got around to it. Now I have old beer yeast sitting in my fridge. What in the world can I do with it? I could step it up and wait ~60 hours for it to show activity. Seriously I have done that and it can take that long. No thank you, not again. That was a lot of DME and did I really get a good pitch of yeast? Who knows. That beer has done well in competitions, but I still don't believe I had a great pitch of yeast. 
 
Then came my epiphany. When I open a vial of yeast and take a big whiff, I think bread. Always. I made bread before I made beer. Why not pizza crust? The power of Google showed me that other people were doing this. I wasn't alone. This picture is of an old vial a yeast, which is a year past the best by date, local honey, and a good quality purpose flour, I use King Authur religiously. 
 

To get the yeast active, I poured the entire vial of yeast, a couple tablespoons of flour and about a tablespoon of honey into a clean bowl stirred it into a slurry and covered it with plastic wrap. Every day I would add a little bit of flour so the yeast would have some more sugars to consume and to get them a little more active. 

Being a homebrewer I wanted to keep this beer-centric, I decided that I would make spent grain pizza dough. I do keep some spent grains in the freezer just in case I get that wild hair to make spent grain bread or pizza crust. I used beer yeast, why not use spent grains as well? Right, this is a homebrewer's pizza crust. I used the recipe in the Zymurgy May/June 2011 for spent grain pizza dough. That issue is one of my favorites. I have made the spent grain dog biscuits out of that issue. The recipe tells you about yeast, considering I used beer yeast omit the the directions for yeast. 

The recipe out of Zymurgy is as follows: 
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 1 tsp. yeast
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 3/4 cup spent grains
In a bowl, sprinkle yeast over the warm water and set aside. In a large mixing bowl or stand mixer, add the flour and drizzle olive oil over. Work oil through flour with your hands or dough hook attachment until it resembles crumbs or small pebbles. Add the spent grains to the flour mixture and combine. 
 
Gently stir the yeast and water mixture until combined. Add the yeast mixture to the bowl containing the spend grain mixture.  Stir or mix with a dough hook until combined and a ball is formed. You may need to add flour, one tablespoon at a time. You'll know it's ready when the dough comes together and no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl. 
 
In a clean bowl, add a bit of oil to the bottom, put the ball of dough in, clip it over and cover. You can let it rise, covered with a dish towel, in a warm place until it has doubled in volume, or you can cover with plastic wrap and put in the refrigerator overnight. I personally prefer to let it do a slow rise overnight because it is convenient and I like the texture of slow fermented dough better.
 
Once the dough has risen, punch it down. This recipe will make enough dough for two pizza crusts so I always halve it and put the second portion in a sealed freezer bag and toss in the freezer for an easy throw-together meal (breakfast or dinner!). 
 
Heat the oven to 500 degrees, while you're preparing the pizza. Stretch the dough out on a pizza stone using your fingers until it's relatively round and thin. I like using my fingers because it gives it a nice rustic look and also gives the sauce and toppings little nooks to hang out in. 
 

Top with whatever you like. The sky's the limit, especially for creative homebrewers. Some of my favorites are prosciutto, egg, goat cheese, and shrimp. Don't pile the toppings on too thickly or the crust will remain a bit soft and soggy in the middle. Keep the toppings even and once your masterpiece is ready, pop it in the over for 8-10 minutes. You'll know it's ready when the crust has gotten crisp and the cheese is melted and bubbly.  

 


Instead of cooking the pizza in the oven, I also like to grill my pizzas. Get your grill hot and roll out your dough. Place the dough on the grill until it is a golden brown, you will have some places get charred, that just gives it character. Flip it over and put on your toppings, then close the lid for a little while. Closing the lid will help your cheese get to be that melty goodness that you love about pizza. Well that is one thing I love about pizza. But remember, don't over do it  on the toppings or it will be a HUGE mess when you pull the pizza off the grill. 

If you have old yeast in your fridge, re-purpose in your food. It made a very good pizza crust. Your 6+ dollars aren't going to be entirely wasted by not using that pitch of yeast in a beer. 

Cheers! 
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