simple summer pizza with tomatoes, basil, and fresh mozzarella
The inspiration for this summer pizza was actually the mozzarella. Last Monday at the Union Square Greenmarket, Brian and I stumbled on a stand with a cooler of the fresh stuff, and that was that. Tomatoes and basil are the kind of things we start to take for granted this time of year, and that’s fine with me. After months of pining, I love nothing more than just eating a tomato. You know, no big deal–I have at least 50 more where that came from. But fresh mozzarella? Ever since the Williamsburg mozzarella lady retired at the very respectable age of 90, I haven’t had any really good stuff, until now.
So we bought the mozzarella, headed home, and made some dough. A lot of recipes will suggest you need to make the dough in advance. And yeah, that sounds great. But in my world, planning dinner 2 hours ahead of time is a major accomplishment, so this dough rose for a paltry 40 minutes and was tender and easy to work with anyway.
It turns out that the bread flour really added to the elasticity of the dough, so if you don’t have any around, pick it up. For my toppings I wanted to feature the seasonal flavors, so I went with no sauce and let the tomatoes and fresh basil speak for themselves.
And before we get to the recipe, one more confession: I skipped my pizza stone this time, and it made things much easier. There was no panic as the pizza fell apart while being placed on the stone and no wrangling the scorching hot stone itself. Instead, I keep my stone at the bottom of the oven, where it helps to absorb heat and even out the oven temp. If you do want to use your stone, use neatly trimmed parchment to transfer (trimmed because there is a fire risk with any large, exposed pieces).
Whole Wheat Pizza with Fresh Mozzarella, Tomatoes, and Basil
for the dough
makes enough dough for two pizzas
1 1/2 cups luke warm water
1 packet rapid rising yeast (or 2 1/4 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour
2 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup olive oil
Preheat oven to 200 degrees.
Pour the water into a small mixing bowl, and stir in the sugar. Sprinkle the yeast on top of the water, and very, very gently, stir. Set aside while you prep the rest of the ingredients.
In a large mixing bowl, or in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flours and the salt.
Pour the olive oil into the yeast mixture and give a quick stir.
Turn off the oven–you want it to be warm for the dough, but there’s no need to cook it.
Either by hand, or with mixer on low, pour the yeast mixture into the flour. When the mixture has formed a sticky, shaggy ball, remove from bowl, to a lightly floured surface, and lightly knead for a few minutes. Coat the same bowl used to mix the dough with olive oil, and place the dough in the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, make sure the oven is turned off, and stick the dough in there to rise for 40 minutes.
for the tomato, basil, and mozzarella topping
makes two pizzas
2 pints large cherry tomatoes, sliced
6 cloves garlic, slow-sauteed (get the recipe here)
1/4 cup basil leaves, chopped
1 pound fresh mozzarella
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed
After 40 minutes, remove the dough from the oven, and preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Slice the tomatoes and place in a strainer over the sink. Toss with a good-sized pinch of sea salt, and allow the tomatoes to release their juices. (You can collect this juice and use it for something awesome, like tomato water cocktails.)
Divide the dough into 2 discs, and set one of the discs back in the bowl, covered, while you prepare the first pizza.
Set out a rimmed baking sheet, coat lightly with olive oil, and gently pull and press the disc out into a rectangle. Build up the edges slightly for the crust.
Brush the dough with olive oil, and sprinkle with a bit of sea salt. Place the sliced tomatoes all over the pizza, then add the garlic, basil, and capers. Top evenly with the sliced mozzarella.
Bake at 450 degrees for 12 – 13 minutes, remove from oven, slice, and serve.
Repeat for the second pizza.