As I mentioned in our St. Patrick’s Day Pizza post, we’re on the march toward perfecting the perfect crispy pizza crust “a la Kohler.” We’re bordering on obsessive now. It has to be done! I have no shame in saying that we’ll be eating pizza like it’s our job until we figure this out. I think we’re getting close, and our next formulation –er, pizza (which happens to be be our Easter edition holiday pizza) might be THE one.
The difficulty in achieving the perfect thin and crispy crust is, that to get the crust as crispy as the restaurant-style varieties, you need a HOT oven, one that reaches temperatures beyond those capable with a typical consumer-grade oven. We started using a pizza stone last year, and it has yielded us better results thus far (both in quality and taste), but now we’re essentially to the point where the recipe must be refined in order to get the texture and signature crunch we crave. Like I said, we’re a little obsessed.
The topping ideas were inspired by an episode of No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain. In his travels to Hawaii, he visits a tiny restaurant called Puka Dog. Small loaves of bread are prepared as the bun and pierced with a machine. Fruit and spicy relishes are poured inside before a polish sausage is added to complete the Puka Dog. The fruit relishes looked colorful and sweet and we thought they’d be perfect with some organic black forest ham we’d picked up on one of our shopping trips. Have you figured out that ham and pineapple is the one ingredient combination we can agree on?
For the crust (makes crust for 2 pizzas):
1 package active dry yeast
2 teaspoons sugar
1 cup warm water (110 degrees F)
2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
3 to 4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1-2 cloves garlic, pressed
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups Black Forest ham slices
Pineapple Relish (recipe below)
2 cups freshly grated mozzarella
1 cup tomato sauce (or 2 cups fresh tomatoes)
2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon oil
1 1/2 cups (or 234g) canned or fresh crushed pineapple with juice
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon fresh lime zest
1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
1. In a mixer/mixing bowl, combine the yeast, sugar, water and shortening to form a paste.
2. Add the flour and salt and mix while stirring (either by hand or mixer). If you are using a mixer, mix for 1-2 minutes before switching to the dough hook and mixing for an additional 3 minutes (adding more water if dry). If mixing by hand, mix in bowl to combine before turning out onto a floured surface and kneading for an additional 6-8 minutes. Do this until you have a smooth, firm dough.
3. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a towel. Set aside to rise in the warmest part of the kitchen for 45 minutes. After 45 minutes, cut the risen dough into 2 equal pieces (or 1 big one!) and knead each portion into a round. Cover again and let rise for 15 to 20 minutes. The dough is now ready to be used.
To Prepare Pineapple Relish:
1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, add the oil, pineapple, salt and the pepper. Cook over medium heat, uncovered, until the liquid reduces, about 30 minutes.
2. Deglaze the saucepan with the vinegar and add the lemon zest, mustard garlic and ginger. Cook uncovered over low heat until the liquid is reduced again (about 20 minutes more) Transfer to a bowl, let cool then refrigerate covered until ready to use. Stir before using.
To Assemble Pizza:
1. Preheat the oven to 450-475 degrees F.
2. Sprinkle a rimless baking sheet or pizza stone with cornmeal. Roll and stretch dough into a long strip (1 large, or 2 smaller) and transfer to sheet/stone. Mix 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil with pressed garlic and brush garlic oil over the dough.
3. Place in oven and pre-bake empty crust for 4-5 minutes.
4. Brush tomato sauce over the dough, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the crust. Spread a thin layer of cheese evenly over the pizza. Scatter Black Forest ham over pizza, then dollop and spread pineapple relish over the ham. Lightly sprinkle with salt, pepper and Italian seasoning.
5. Bake pizza until lightly browned, around 10-12 minutes. Cool for 2-3 minutes before cutting pizza into pieces and serving.
Even if we didn’t achieve the perfect crunch, this was the most flavorful dough we’ve tried yet. It must have been the combination of the shortening in the dough and the sweetness of the relish, but the whole pie had almost a sweet and creamy texture and taste. Definitely like nothing we’ve created thus far. I topped my slices with some fresh chives from the garden for color, and we split a new spiked lemonade by Jeremiah Weed that we impulsively picked up on an already impulsive trip to the grocery store. It’s definitely feeling Spring-ish over here!
With the looming government shut-down, my dad might be coming home for a visit. I’m thinking we’ll test one of our dough experiments on his taste buds and see what he thinks. Hear that Dad, you’re an experiment! What are your plans this weekend?
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What a great looking pizza! I made homemade pizza last night and I’m pretty sure I could eat it every night for dinner. Yum!
The pizza looks delish! and so does that lemonade in fact. This weekend I will be coming to see you BFF, have a lemonade cold and ready for me!
Your pineapple relish sounds YUMMY. Say, have you tried pre-heating the stone in the blazing hot oven (500+ if your smoke detector will allow it). I don’t have a pizza peel, but put my pizza on a piece of parchment paper and slide the pizza, parchment and all, onto the hot stone. A trick from Smitten Kitchen. Still not as great as my local Neopolitan pizza place, but sometimes close. The shortening is an interesting addition, I’ll have to try that. Enjoy your obsession!
@emily – Pizza is definitely my desert island food. I can eat it for any meal, any time, every day, and wherever and however I can get my hands on it:)
@Rachel – I can’t wait! I will pick up some lemonade tomorrow!
@Krista – We have been using the parchment on the stone as of late the higher we try to crank the oven. We’ve also cooked it on the rack resting on some foil. The shortening is a new edition, an idea we got from a book. In some further reading I did afterward, I found that cornstarch might help crisp the crust as well by essentially dehydrating it. We’ll see how it goes next round. My dream house will have a wood oven…keyword DREAM.