Clearly, our household is enamored with figs right now. ‘Tis the season, and some generous friends have given us a bounty of figs from their neighbors yard (if it hangs over the fence its fair game). So, we decided to try fig pizza and the results were unbelievably yummy.
The pizza had onions, gorgonzola, ricotta, and a balsamic reduction to pair with the figs (the reduction stood in for sauce), and the resulting pizza was suprisingly well structured considering that it had no obvious binder. The lack of sauce probably helped with that.
The pizza dough recipe came from the America’s Test Kitchen cookbook: The Best Recipes. What they describe as dough for 1 medium pizza was plenty (the recipe makes dough for three), and the remaining dough can be frozen or used to make foccacia.
My Rating: 9
Recipe for pizza:
1 medium pizza dough (recipe follows)
8 or 10 fresh figs, sliced to 1/4 inch thickness
4 oz crumbled gorgonzola cheese
8 oz fresh ricotta cheese
1/2 of a medium onion sliced paper thin
hefty drizzling of balsamic reduction (recipe follows)
Olive oil for the pan.
Start by placing your pizza stone on the middle rack of your oven and cranking the heat up as high as it will go. Pizza stones hold a lot of heat and it takes a while to get them hot, so you have to do this early. It’s going to want to heat for a good 20 minutes. You’ll turn the oven down when the pizza actually goes into the oven, but the stone will cook the crust a bit hotter from underneath.
Let the pizza dough rest on the counter a bit. Any time the dough gets hard to work with, or seems to spring back when you try to stretch it out, let it rest a little.
Roll out the pizza dough to be about 2 inches larger around than your pizza pan. The best way to do this is to flour everything well and then roll lightly with a rolling pin, flipping the dough over and turning it 45 degrees each turn (if you turn it 90 degrees, you’ll make a big rectangle. a big octagon is closer to a pizza shape).
Pour a couple of tablespoons of olive oil into the pizza pan you will be using. This will help the outside of the crust get a nice, almost fried crispiness. You don’t have to do this, but it does help. Spread the oil around and then place the pizza dough over the pan. It should be bigger than the pan. That’s good. Roll the extra edge in to make the crust. Cover the pan with a dish towel and let it rise for about 15 minutes.
Now, top the dough with everything else in the recipe. Have fun with it. Place the pizza pan in the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 425 degrees. It should take about 20 minutes to cook, but keep an eye on it. You want the crust to be nice and golden and the cheese on top to begin browning a bit too. When the cheese gets golden, you know you’re done.
Let the pan rest on the counter for at least 5 minutes before cutting it. Trust me on this one, it will hold together a lot better.
How to make a balsamic reduction:
I find this easiest to do in a stainless steel omelette pan. The large surface area for evaporation and the reflection on the bottom make it easy to see how thick the liquid has become. The basic process is a matter of simmering down a bunch of balsamic vinegar (medium heat), and then usually adding a little bit of sugar at the end. You should reduce the liquid by about three quarters (1 cup of balsamic –> 1/4 cup of reduction). If it starts to look too thick, you can add a little bit of fresh balsamic to thin it out, and sweeten with a sprinkle of sugar.
This is a basic pizza dough recipe that appears in a number of cookbooks. This version is from America’s Test kitchen.
1/2 cup of warm tap water
1 teaspoons of yeast
1/2 cup of room temperature water
1 tablespoons of olive oil
2 cups of bread flour
3/4 teaspoons of salt
Put the warm water and the yeast in a measuring cup and let the yeast proof for 5-10 minutes. It should foam. Add the rest of the liquid to the measuring cup. Put the flour and salt in a food processor and let it run for about 30 seconds. With the machine running slowly pour the liquid through the feed tube. Once the dough comes together into a single ball, stop adding the liquid. I know there is a temptation to add all of the liquid and see what happens, but the dough will be wet and hard to work with if you do.
Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and form it into a ball. Put that ball of dough into a very lightly oiled bowl and roll it around so that the outside of the dough is slightly greased. The reason for doing this is so that the skin of the dough doesn’t dry out as it rises. If the outside dries out, it will resist expansion and retard the rising process.
After the dough has doubled in volume (1-2 hours), press it down (traditionally it’s called punching it down), turn it out onto a floured work surface and you’re ready to go.