PIZZA IS AS PIZZA DOES
My regular readers will know that this is a favorite phrase chez moi, used often and about everything: crazy is as crazy does, silly is as silly does, ugly is as ugly does (Boston is as Boston does)… This is truly our own personal philosophy. I mean, it pretty much says it all!
And this philosophy is no different for pizza.
I have eaten squares of pizza in Jerusalem, bought from a little window opening right onto Jaffa Street, always with black olives, please. I have eaten round, dinner-plate-sized pizza, crust light as air, strewn with grilled vegetables, in our local pizzeria with the boy-sized stuffed Pinocchio and the plastic tomatoes hanging over our heads. I have eaten extreme deep-dish pizza da Marino in Milan, hot from the pan, gooey with cheese, listening to Marino regale us with stories of his life in that deep, raspy distinctive voice of his. Or fabulous pizza fredda on Via Washington, slathered in tomato sauce and mayonnaise, piled high with tuna, lettuce and tomatoes, a summer dream, served up by the slice by the very large lady overseen by her very tiny mother. I have eaten pizza-by-the-slice in New York, and I won’t mention where. New York is a “best-pizza” battleground and one must be ready and willing to dive into the scuffle and stand up for one’s pizza parlor. I have eaten at Bizzarro’s in Satellite Beach with my family, sitting at a bare table in a barren dining room, the pizza bigger than all our heads put together, hot and spicy with pepperoni, heavy on the sauce and dripping mozzarella. I have eaten a multitude of chain pizzas, often much to my chagrin. I have eaten pizza hot and cold, baked or fried or grilled, open-faced and calzone, thick and thin, chewy and crispy, square and round and triangular and through it all I was absolutely sure of one thing. Pizza is pizza and by any other name would still be pizza.
Pizza is a staple of our life, changing style merely as the mood changes: paper thin and crispy, light as air when we go out to our favorite local pizzeria Pinocchio, risen and slightly chewy when made at home, thick and deep dish when JP chooses. Ditto for the toppings, everyone decides. For Simon, easy does it, sauce, mozzarella and pepperoni or chorizo, for Clem, add some cheeses. JP is the adventurous one, changing as it fits the mood, changing flavors as often as he changes socks: salamis or grilled veg or the weirdest thing on the menu, with or without a spray of rocket tossed atop. For me? Classically Italian, a hearty tomato sauce topped with slices of buffalo mozzarella, grilled zucchini and roasted red pepper with a handful of rocket. But pizza it still is, pizza it always is.
And when pizza goes sweet? Is it still pizza? Absolutely. Lovely Zorra of 1x umrühren bitte has invited all Bread Baking Day #21 participants to a Pizza Party to celebrate BBD’s 2-year anniversary! And I thought that I would bring dessert!
Pizza Dolce (Sweet Pizza) looks like pizza but surprise! it is actually made with a brioche-like crust and topped with a just-sweetened ricotta topping. To celebrate both BBD’s anniversary and summer, I decided to flavor the ricotta with both vanilla and Amaretto and top the pizza with bright red, juicy, cherries. Sweet, indeed!
Congratulations, Zorra! I have so enjoyed every BBD challenge since I was lucky enough to find and join you! You throw a great party!
I must mention here that I thought I had calculated dough quantities to make one large 12-inch (30 cm) pizza, but I didn’t count on it rising so dramatically in the oven (even after two pre-baking rises). It was like eating a thick slice of brioche with a bit of topping. The next time I make this fantastic dessert, I will make two pizzas with the same quantity of dough and then double the ricotta quantities. And add lots more fresh cherries. I also had day dreams of replacing the cherries with slices of sweet, ripe nectarines.
DOUGH FOR PIZZA DOLCE
Makes two 12-inch (30 cm) pies
Make the dough the day before.
2 ¼ cups (330 g) flour + more for kneading
1 ¼ cups (150 ml) warm milk
1 tsp active dry yeast (I used a slightly heaping tsp)
3 whole eggs
1 egg yolk
3 Tbs sugar (you can add a bit more if you want a sweeter dough, but I found it perfect)
9 Tbs (125 g) unsalted butter, softened
Stir the yeast and half of the flour together in a large mixing bowl. Add the warm milk and stir until all the dry ingredients are moistened. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rest for 15 minutes.
Add the rest of the flour and stir into the yeast mixture, then cover the bowl again and allow to rise for 45 to 50 minutes.
Add the whole eggs and the yolk, and stir into the dough. Stir in the sugar and salt. You may have a very wet dough.
Turn this dough out onto a well-floured work surface and begin kneading in the softened butter, piece by piece until well incorporated. Continue kneading, adding flour as needed, until you have a smooth, elastic, soft dough, about 5 minutes.
Place the dough in a bowl, cover well with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator over night.
The next day, take the dough out of the fridge about 1 ½ to 2 hours before you are ready to work it. Scrape it out onto a floured work surface and cut into 2 pieces (or as many pieces as you would like pizzas – individual pies, for example). Roll the dough out to fit 12-inch pie pans, place gently into the pie pan and, using your thumbs, press up the edges to form a rim all around.
Allow to rest for 10 minutes. It will puff up slightly. Repress the rims into place. So there is an edge and press down the center.
While the pizza dough is resting, preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C) and make the Ricotta Filling.
RICOTTA FILLING FOR PIZZA DOLCE
Makes enough for one 12-inch (30 cm) Pizza
2 cups / 1 pound (500 g) ricotta
1/3 cup (65 – 70 g) sugar
½ tsp vanilla
1 Tbs Amaretto
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 pound (500 g) fresh cherries, pitted
Using a hand mixer or whisk, beat the ricotta until smooth and creamy. Whisk in the eggs, the sugar, the vanilla, the Amaretto and the ground cinnamon.
After the dough has rested, just carefully pour and spread the Ricotta Filling on the dough not more than about an inch (2 cm) from the edges (leaving the border).
Place the pitted cherries all over the Filling.
Bake until the dough is puffed and golden brown and the Ricotta Filling is puffed and set in the center, about 30 to 45 minutes depending on thickness of dough and your oven. Keep an eye on it.
Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly. It is best eaten warm and fresh.