Reproduce the taste of a wood-fired oven pizza -- complete with smoky overtones -- without an oven by making pizza over a campfire. Choosing a variety of favorite toppings, each camper can make a perfect individual pizza or you can prepare larger pies to share. The easiest way to transport an assortment of toppings is to prepare ingredients at home and seal each in a plastic sandwich bag or foil pouch.
Make foil pouches any size by folding a sheet of heavy duty aluminum foil to enclose the topping you're taking to the campfire. Unwrap it carefully, and you can reuse the foil at the campsite. Plus, you’ll have no plastic bags to dispose.
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- Frozen pizza dough (homemade or store-bought)
- Pizza sauce
- Mozzarella cheese, grated or thinly sliced
- Assorted vegetable toppings, washed and pre-sliced
- Assorted canned or packaged toppings
Thaw the frozen pizza dough, if necessary, as you prepare the campfire. If the dough has been in a cooler for several hours, it should be almost thawed.
Start the campfire ahead of your cooking time so it can burn down -- you want to cook over glowing coals, not licking flames. Coals provide consistent heat so your food cooks evenly without scorching. Arrange a cooking grate over the fire so it’s ready for the pizza.
Knead the dough gently a few times. Divide the softened dough into fist-sized portions for individual pizzas.
Spread a sheet of heavy duty aluminum foil on a flat cooking surface such as a skillet, a griddle or baking sheet. Dust the foil with a light layer of cornmeal. Pat the dough into a flat circle between your palms, then finish forming it into a pizza crust on the foil. Press the dough to flatten it, or roll it with a clean, smooth cylinder such as a smooth water bottle. Sprinkle some cornmeal over the top of the crust, place another sheet of foil over it and flip it over. Pat the dough so more cornmeal adheres to the flipped side. The cornmeal helps keep the crust from sticking to the cooking surface.
With the crust sandwiched between the foil on the cooking pan, set the pan and crust over the fire and cook for 3 to 5 minutes on each side. Remove the pan and crust from the fire and lift the top piece of foil.
Crumple the edge of the foil around the crust to help keep toppings on the pizza. Leave the foil under the pizza to keep the pan clean -- this means no dishwashing is necessary!
Spread pizza sauce, toppings and cheese over the crust. Make the toppings a uniform thickness so the pizza cooks evenly.
Move the loaded pizza to the fire. You can leave it on the flat pan or slide the foil and pizza onto the grate. Cover the pizza with an upside-down skillet, a metal pie pan or a domed sheet of foil. The cover creates a chamber of hot air that bakes the toppings and melts the cheese.
If you cook using only foil under the crust, use two oversized sheets as a double layer. Crumple raised edges around the crust, and twist some foil at the corners to create “handles” from the extra foil so you can slide the foil on and off the fire grate easily.
Watch the pizza closely. Lift the cover and check the pizza after 4 to 6 minutes. Lift an edge of the crust to check for doneness. Adjust the heat by raising or lowering the grate, if possible, or scoop the hot coals deeper or to the sides to concentrate or redistribute the heat. When the bottom of the crust is brown and the toppings have cooked, the pizza is done.
Depending on the thickness of the crust and how many toppings you used, a large pizza should be done in 12 to 18 minutes. Individual pizzas may be done in 8 to 10 minutes.
Remove the pizza from the fire grate using a fireproof mitt to handle the pan. If you cooked on foil, use tongs and a mitt to guide it onto a flat pan or wooden cutting board so you can move it safely.
- For ready-to-use crust, bake the dough at home or buy pre-made pizza crust.
- Pita bread or flat bread are good choices if you prefer thin crust pizza. They scorch quickly, so cook them high above the coals or on a heavy griddle or skillet to distribute the heat indirectly.
- Make pizza roll-ups with soft flat bread or flour tortillas. Steam the wrappers: Stack them, sprinkle several drops of water over them, and enclose them in a folded-foil pouch. Place the pouch on a heavy skillet or griddle over the coals for 1 to 2 minutes on each side, then remove it from the fire. Open carefully -- there will be steam -- and place each wrapper on a sheet of foil. Quickly spread each wrapper with toppings of choice. Roll each wrapper into a cylinder, wrap the foil around and twist the foil at each end to make handles. Return the rolled wraps to the skillet or griddle for 1 to 2 minutes to heat through.