Perfect Summer Pizza

I think I was in about 4th grade when a new gourmet pizza place opened in our neighborhood. I was kind of shocked when our family looked over the menu. Potatoes on pizza? Pizza with olive oil and garlic instead of red sauce? What were they thinking?

Fortunately my taste in pizza has changed a lot since I was ten. This is a ridiculously simple, red sauce-free pizza that makes the most of summer’s perfect tomatoes and basil. Now that we have a basil plant thriving on our porch and beautiful heirloom tomatoes are cheap and plentiful at the farmers market, we’ve been eating this pizza at least once a week for the past month.

The crust comes from The Big Sur Bakery Cookbook and I’m not sure that I’ll ever make a different one. You need to plan at least a day in advance, as it’s best when it’s had at least 24 hours in the fridge (but I’ve also let it rest for as few as eight hours and it’s still pretty good). If you’ve got a stand mixer, it comes together in less than 10 minutes!

(adapted from The Big Sur Bakery Cookbook)

3/4 cup warm water
1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1 2/3 cups bread flour
1 tsp salt

2 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 tbsp olive oil
2-3 freshly picked heirloom tomatoes, thinly sliced
8-10 thin slices mozzarella
3 tbsp fresh basil, sliced into thin ribbons

Dissolve the yeast in water and let stand 5 minutes. Pour into the bowl of a stand mixer and add the flour and salt. With the dough hook, mix on low for 2 minutes, medium for 2 minutes, then high for 2 minutes. If the dough is too sticky, add a little flour. Divide into two equal balls and place on a plate, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least ten hours. Remove from the fridge about 45 minutes before you plan to bake pizza.

Preheat a the oven (with a pizza stone if you have one) to 475 F. Sprinkle a cookie sheet or pizza peel generously with cornmeal. Carefully stretch the dough into a circle and place on the peel. Brush with 1 tbsp of olive oil, and sprinkle with half the garlic. Layer slices of tomato and mozzarella over that.

Slide the pizza carefully onto the pizza stone.Bake for about 12 minutes, or until the cheese is brown and bubbly. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with half the fresh basil. Repeat with remaining dough and toppings. Let pizza stand for about 5 minutes before cutting into slices

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