So it's the Bread Bakers' inaugural challenge and to make things easy, we were asked to bake our favorite breads. Easy? EASY?!? Pick ONE favorite? That's like picking your favorite kid. Okay, not really a stretch for me since I've only got one. Favorite song, maybe? Only took me 50-something years to narrow THAT one down. (Since you asked–you did, right?–It's The Beatles' "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away," which never fails to put a lump in my throat.) I gave the favorite bread thing a lot of thought, because frankly, my favorite bread is whatever I happen to be eating at any given moment. BUT…if it came down to it and I had to pick, say, a desert-island bread (or food, period), hands down it would be PIZZA. It's a bread, alright, just one with a lot of stuff on it. And the possibilities with pizza are endless. I'd never be bored on my desert island. (Unless, of course, my wish was actually was granted by the devil in a scenario out of "Bedazzled"–the original with Peter Cook and Dudley Moore–and my pizza fantasy turned out to be my worst nightmare, like clam and peanut butter pizza throughout eternity. Otherwise, I'm sticking with it.) So yeah. Favorite bread = pizza.
Now some might argue that it's kind of a cop-out because with pizza it's really more about the toppings than the crust but I say YOU'RE WRONG! Thin crust, thick crust, cracker crust, deep dish, New York style, Chicago style, Neapolitan, Sicilian, all-purpose flour, bread flour, 00 flour, whole wheat, gluten-free, gluten-loaded, cauliflower crust (it's good!), wood fired, oven baked, grilled, fresh, frozen, gourmet, fast food, for lunch, dinner, even breakfast… The crustal variations are as endless as the toppings and whatever it is, I'm there. I used to be a take-out aficionado but I started making my own doughs about three years ago and now I'm totally spoiled. There's nothing better than homemade and I'm always trying new doughs, new toppings and new methods of baking. So here we are. Pizza. Pizza pizza pizza.
I chose one of my go-to doughs for my #BreadBakers pizza (a Peter Reinhart dough from his FREE Craftsy class, Perfect Pizza at Home). It's an American-style Neapolitan dough that bakes up thin and crispy and stands up to a lot of toppings. I make a batch every couple of weeks to freeze so if I get a craving for pizza in the morning, I pop a dough ball into the fridge to defrost and it's usually good to go when I get home. For a topping, I bypassed the traditional cheese-and-tomato route and chose one that had been a real revelation for me–peach, proscuitto and gorgonzola. I had taken a class at Sur La Table a long time ago, Quick Italian Dinners I think, and this was on the menu. Up til that point, I was really turned off by the idea of salty-sweet. The thought of it was a total "gross meow" (which is how my younger brother interpreted "gross me out" when we were kids and of course, we've never let him forget it–it's part of the family lexicon.) But I kind of felt under pressure to taste it in class and since I loved all of the components individually (the blues are some of my favorite cheeses), I caved and…Oh my. Gimme more. Pizza perfection. It's a family fave now and after the good old fashioned Neapolitan pie, it's tied with salad pizza for number one. Salty and sweet, no more gross meows. The peaches, the gorgonzola, the prosciutto are just an awesome combination. (You could, of course, leave off the prosciutto if you wanted to make this vegetarian.) It's late summer as I'm writing this post, but peaches (and nectarines) seem to still at their peak of juicy sweetness so give it a try before they're gone!
P.S. I also made a version of this pizza with my favorite thicker skillet crust. It was a split decision as to which one was better. I was partial to the thinner crust while Mr. Dough voted for the thicker crust. But it's my blog, so I won. Neener neener.
peach, prosciutto and gorgonzola pizza
- 638 g/5 cups unbleached bread flour
- 10 g/2 tsp kosher salt
- 5 g/1 tsp instant yeast
- 14g/2 tsp sugar
- 14g/1 Tbsp olive oil
- 454 g/16 oz room temperature water
- 2 dough balls
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 large shallots or 1 small-medium red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
- 4 large slices prosciutto, cut into 1" wide ribbons
- 2 large, ripe but firm peaches, sliced thin (about 16 slices per peach)
- 1 cup crumbled Gorgonzola cheese (or more to taste)
- 2 Tbsp finely chopped chives OR a handful of baby arugula leaves
- 1/4–1/3 cup Balsamic vinegar, reduced to about half (I used a peach-infused vinegar I had on hand, nice touch!)
- Freshly ground pepper
To make the dough:
- Add the flour, salt and yeast into the bowl of a mixer and stir to combine.
- Add water and olive oil to the dry ingredients and using the paddle attachment, mix on the slowest speed for about 1 minute until the dough is fully hydrated.
- Let the dough rest for about 5 minutes, then mix again on medium low for another minute. Add flour or water as need to make a soft dough that's still a bit sticky.
- Rub a small amount of olive oil on a work surface, enough to make a slick about 12 inches in diameter (you don't want a puddle, just enough for a thin cover). With oiled hands and an oiled dough scraper or spatula, transfer the dough to the work surface. Stretch and fold by reaching underneath the dough ball and pulling the dough over the top for each of the four compass points. Flip over, tuck into a ball and cover with a clean bowl.
- Repeat 3 more times every 5 minutes. If needed to prevent sticking, add a bit more oil.
- After the final stretch-and-fold, divide the dough into 4–5 balls (I usually do 5, which is enough for about a 10" pizza each) and place each ball into a reusable plastic container or plastic bag sprayed with oil.
- You can either refrigerate the dough and use it within 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months. To use frozen dough, place the dough balls in the refrigerator to defrost overnight.
To make the pizza:
- About 1 hour before baking the pizza, place a pizza stone on the lowest rack and preheat the oven to 500° two dough balls from the fridge. (The dough doesn't have to come to room temperature but it shouldn't be very cold either.)
- At baking time, working one at a time, place a dough ball on a lightly floured peel or parchment sheet, and pat and stretch into a 10 inch round. If using a peel, keep checking underneath the dough to make sure it isn't sticking and sprinkle more flour if needed.
- Drizzle each round with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil and brush evenly over the surface. Place half of the shallots or onions over each round, then top with the prosciutto, peach slices and gorgonzola.
- Transfer the pizza to the baking stone and bake until brown and crispy, about 10 to 12 minutes or until desired doneness*. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with chives or baby arugula, a few grinding of black pepper, then drizzle with balsamic reduction. Cut into slices and serve while piping hot.
Dough adapted from Peter Reinhart's Perfect Pizza at Home on Craftsy. Pizza adapted from Sur La Table class handout.
* In the past, I made this by placing all of the toppings (except for the chives/arugula and balsamic reduction) on the pizza and baking everything at once, but I always thought the cheese got a bit too well done for my taste. This last time, I partially baked the pizza for about 8 minutes with only the onion and peaches, then removed the pizza and added the prosciutto and gorgonzola and baked it for another 8 minutes or so. I liked it much better this way. The crust got crispier and the cheese was still soft and bubbly, not all frizzled. I also added a little bit more cheese after the pizza came out of the oven. The heat from the pizza melted it just enough so that it was nice and creamy. This is definitely how I'll be doing it from now on.
Here's what #BreadBakers have been baking this month:
- Bhatura - Leavened Fried Bread by Anshie at Spiceroots
- Cinnamon Bread by Tara at Noshing With The Nolands
- Fiona's Wonderful Bread by Stacy at Food Lust People Love
- Kashmiri Naan by Jenni at Pastry Chef Online
- No Knead Whole Wheat Bread by Holly at A Baker's House
- Overnight Country Sourdough by Karen at Karen's Kitchen Stories
- Peach, Prosciutto and Gorgonzola Pizza by Robin at A Shaggy Dough Story
- Potato Bread with Raisins by Kathia at Basic N Delicious
- Pumpkin Challah Bread by Sophie at Sweet Cinnamon & Honey
- Raincoast Crisps Bread by Kimberly at Rhubarb & Honey
- Yogurt Almond Bread by Cindy at Cindy's Recipes and Writings
- Walnut Wheat Bread by Renee at Magnolia Days
We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient.
If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send Stacy an email with your blog URL to firstname.lastname@example.org.