Pizza and Hard Cider – Part V

In this version of my pizza and hard cider pairings, I’m keeping with the theme of unique crusts and using that as my inspiration for toppings. Like I do for some of my hard ciders, I have been pushing myself to think outside of the box. However, I have been developing some foundational building blocks. Those building blocks include the following.

  • Crumpet Crust: Using some baking powder and baking soda as an idea from some crumpet recipes, I can create a crust that has a nice rise to it, is hardier, and is reminiscent of a pretzel in both taste and browning. This is a great crust for bold and robust flavored pizzas and can easily be augmented with adjuncts, just like my hard ciders.
  • Cracker Crust: Using semolina flour instead of all-purpose will give me a thinner crust that has more cracker-like characteristics.
  • Standard Crust: My standard crust provides some chew and crispiness and fits nicely between the crumpet and cracker variants.

However, my explorations are not stopping. As you will see in this version of “Pizza and Hard Cider”, I am exploring some new flours as well as interesting adjuncts. How do peanut butter, crumpet Parmesan, chipotle mesquite, and truffle cracker crust sound? Yes, I used real organic peanut butter. The mesquite is organic and a flour/powder ground from the seed pods. The truffle was organic black truffle oil, which is our newest favorite find (along with organic white truffle oil). I’ve also started bottling some of this year’s hard cider and some of these are great served young so you will get to start seeing some of my newest recipes and experiments. All my crusts are based on my standard recipe, which I included again for easy reference, I simply augment this recipe by adding various adjuncts or replacing the flour with another variety.

The basic crust augmentations are as follows. I added 1/4 cup or peanut butter and additional flour to keep my dough consistency. For the mesquite flour crust, I replaced 1/4 cup of flour with mesquite powder. The crumpet crust has 1 teaspoon each of baking powder and baking soda added along with 1/4 cup of water and some additional flour to keep the dough consistency the same and give it a little more bulk. The cracker crust has the all purpose flour completely replaced with semolina. As I have noted in other posts, my base recipe is quite adaptable and it’s really hard to go wrong. You can always add a little water or a little flour to adjust your dough consistency depending on the adjuncts you add.

Sourdough Pizza Dough

Servings: 10-12 Inch Pizza

Ingredients:

  • 210-230 Grams Sourdough Starter
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil 
  • 1  Teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 Cup Organic All-Purpose Flour
  • Water as Required

Steps:

  • Mix starter, oil, salt, and flour in a large mixing bowl by hand.  
  • Knead the dough for 5 minutes.  If too dry, add teaspoon of water.  This dough should be relatively dry.  
  • Cover and let set for 1 hour.  
  • Use or freeze.  If freezing, set the dough in the refrigerator the day before you plan to use it and on the counter 1-2 hours before you use it.  

Here is a list of the last 4 pizzas that we have made as well as the hard ciders we paired with them. For reference, we homemake most of the ingredients as well as use organic so I don’t specifically call this out.


Peanut Butter My Pizza & Garden Cider

  • Peanut Butter Sourdough
  • Thai Chicken Curry
  • Mozzarella, Sliced
  • Parmesan, Shredded
  • Basil, Fresh Chopped
  • Peanuts, Chopped
  • Peanut Butter My Pizza: A Thai Chicken Curry Pizza
  • Garden Cider Label: A Plum and Ginger Adjunct Hard Cider
  • Glass of Garden Cider: A Plum and Ginger Hard Cider

You are probably wondering why I thought to use peanut butter in a pizza crust. It was during one of my creative sessions where I search the spice cabinet and refrigerator for ideas. I thought peanut butter is basically an oil and like cookies, it should bake up well. Also, so many dishes include peanuts and peanut butter I knew we would have pairing options for it. My wife immediately said that we were making a chicken curry pizza. That meant I needed to break out my Garden Cider again, which is a plum and ginger adjunct hard cider. It was inspired by the plum and ginger cider we had during our trip to London that is made by Garden Cider. A London based cidery that uses apples from community gardens to make hard cider. The fruitiness from the plum combines well with the spicy ginger and it is a natural pairing for Thai and Indian curries. This was one of my wife’s favorite pizza and cider pairings.


Sloppy Tonys & Ruby Reaper

  • Parmesan Crumpet Sourdough
  • Turkey & Bacon Sloppy Joes
  • Mozzarella, Sliced
  • Parmesan, Shredded
  • Parsley, Dried
  • Sloppy Tony Pizza: Sloppy Joes on a Parmesan Crumpet Crust
  • Ruby Reaper label
  • Ruby Reaper Bottle

After the positive success of my original crumpet crust, I knew it was a great base for thicker crust pizzas. It also gives it that acidic range of a pretzel with great chew. I decide to add a little parmesan cheese to this crust, which added both flavor and texture. However, it’s main benefit was the structure it provided to the Sloppy Joes. It easily holds it just like a sandwich with the mozzarella binding it all together. It’s a robust crust for a pizza with robust flavors.

That means I needed a robust hard cider. Ruby Reaper is a hard cider mistelle, which means it is cider fortified with a spirit. In this case, organic tequila. However, it also uses the worlds hottest chili pepper, Carolina Reaper, along with ruby red grapefruit, lime, and chipotle peppers to deliver a lot of flavors packed into a small package. It was the perfect pairing for this robustly flavored Sloppy Tonys pizza. The cider makes you want to eat more pizza and the pizza makes you want to have more cider. You will have to see which one wins the flavor contest in your mouth.


Egg-specially Mesquite & Heirloom Cider

  • Mesquite Sourdough
  • Olive Oil
  • Garlic Cloves, Minced
  • Brussels Sprouts, Honey Balsamic Roasted
  • Bacon, Chopped
  • Mozzarella, Sliced
  • Eggs (Broken Yokes)
  • Parmesan, Shredded
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Fresh Rosemary, Chopped
  • Egg-specially Mesquite Pizza: A plethora of flavors
  • Heirloom Cider: 6 American Heirloom Apples including Roxbury Russet, Pumpkin, Sweet, Smokehouse, and Northern Spy.
  • Heirloom Cider Label

We have mesquite trees all around where we live and I knew people ground the pods to make a flour from them. I decided that it would be a great option to use for a pizza crust. What I didn’t realize until getting the mesquite powder is that is is considered a natural and sugar-free sweetener. The powder has a perceived sweetness so instead of using it as a 100% replacement for the flour, I only used 1/4 cup in the dough. The results was a crust that browned quicker and became much crispier. It gave the pizza a note of sweetness along with crunch.

I paired this with my newest hard cider, Heirloom. It has 6 varieties of American heirloom apples including Roxbury Russet. Made with the White Lab’s English Cider Yeast, WLP775, this hard cider has great fruity esters, nice tannins, and wonderful apple notes. It’s fermented on the peels of Winter Banana apples and paired extremely well with this crispy and flavorful pizza. Both pizza and hard cider have subtle flavors that blend well. It’s a young cider but should also have the structure to age well with time.


Black Truffle & Canícula Cider

  • Black Truffle Semolina Sourdough
  • Olive Oil and Black Truffle Oil
  • Black Truffles Slices, Fresh or Rehydrated
  • Halloumi (Greek Grill Cheese), Shredded
  • Black Truffle Oil, Drizzle (1/2 Teaspoon)
  • Black Truffle Pizza on Truffle Sourdough Cracker Crust
  • Canícula Cider By Superstition Meadery

Our new favorite ingredient is truffles. We started with some organic truffle oil and soon purchased some dried black truffles purposely for this pizza. The oil was used in making the crust as well as base with olive oil on top of the crust and a drizzle after removing the pizza from the oven. The halloumi cheese adds some salt and texture but is a neutral base that supports the black truffles. This pizza is simplistic in that is has a few ingredients but the flavor is umami and all about the truffle. We couldn’t have been more please with how this turned out. The semolina sourdough formed that cracker-like crust I sought, which gives the pizza a nice crunchy base without overwhelming it. Everything in this pizza is about subtlety and it all works.

I took a slight risk and paired this with a new hard cider from Superstition Meadery we found while stopping by the local bottle shop. It turned out to be a perfect pair. Canícula means the “dog days of summer” in Mexico. It is made from kveik yeast and aged for 12 months in tequila barrels. It also was complex and subtle in its flavor and aroma profiles. It would switch between tequila, oak, vanilla, and earthy, which was perfect for the truffles.


You might remember that I cook my pizzas at 500F (260C) On a pizza steel. This allows me to get a nice crunch and chew combination. It also means the pizzas cook rather quickly. You don’t need a steel or stone but if you have a sourdough starter, they make a great additional to the kitchen for all your bread baking needs. If you haven’t tried hard cider, I strongly encourage you to pair it with your next pizza. You might enjoy it enough to try making it. My book explores my cider journey and while it is focused on how to make hard cider, it also covers apples, cider history, and food. However, check out the recipe “My First Cider” located in my recipes section if you want to take a first step along your own cider journey.

I hope this post inspires you to make your own pizza pairing. If you enjoy reading about cider and how to make and enjoy it, follow me.

If you are wondering, I’m not going to sell your information or bombard you with requests to buy things. It’s simply a way for me to get you copies of my blogs on weekly basis and respond if you have questions you want to ask me. As always, stay safe and drink cider!


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