It’s easy to forget how fickle produce seasons can be. Last week, figs were available everywhere. It was their moment, after all. And because I wanted to make the most of this, I wanted to make a pizza that was all about the fig. Sunday morning, however, found me on a fruitless hunt.
Figs trees produce two crops in a season, and there’s a short lull between them. Sunday, I hit that lull. I visited seven markets in an increasingly desperate search and then called it a day. Monday, I went to the one supermarket that I had assumed wouldn’t carry them. And guess what? They had an embarrassingly huge display of figs front and center in their produce section. I considered dive-bombing the display in an unabashed expression of delight, but suspected that the store’s staff wouldn’t share my enthusiasm. But hallelujah! I had figs. (Their second season ramps up by mid-August.)
And now that there are figs for this pizza, let’s talk about the pizza itself. I’m a big proponent of a slow and patient approach. It can be tricky to achieve the tangy dough and blistered crust of a classic Neapolitan-style pizza at home, but there are little things we can do to get closer to that kind of perfection. Most important of these is to let the dough rest overnight and to give it plenty of time to rise on the day of. This ensures a little curing, which enriches and deepens the flavor of the dough. It’s kind of like making sourdough, but simpler.
The other important factor is a hot oven. And it’s summer out, so most of you are probably not too keen on cranking your oven to 500 degrees for the better part of an hour. The solution here is to grill your pizza. It’s the best way, short of a pizza oven, to achieve a gorgeous crust. And it’s a perfect excuse to spend an evening outdoors, where this pizza’s interplay of flavors will no doubt taste even better. The jammy sweetness of the fresh figs and the porcine saltiness of the prosciutto are the perfect foil for the mild, tangy qualities of the goat cheese. Below are instructions for making the pizza both in the oven and on the grill.
Fig, Prosciutto and Goat Cheese Pizza
Yield: two 12″ pizzas
For the dough:
(Dough recipe adapted from Gourmet)
2-2.5 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup warm water
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
For each pizza:
6 ounces mild goat cheese, crumbled
5 medium black figs, sliced lengthwise
2 ounces prosciutto, torn
Handful fresh basil leaves, torn
Cornmeal (polenta) for sprinkling under pizza
Salt and pepper to taste
Pizza stone (or use a baking sheet instead)
Pizza paddle (can use a cutting board)
To make the dough:
1. In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water and let stand for about 10 minutes. Whisk in the sea salt and the olive oil. Add the flour slowly, in half cup increments, mixing as you go. When the dough pulls away from the sides of the mixing bowl, it is ready to be kneaded.
2. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for 10 minutes, adding flour as necessary when dough becomes sticky. It should have a silky quality.
3. Place the dough in a lightly oiled, large mixing bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
4. Ideally, leave the dough in the fridge overnight to let the flavor of the dough intensify. If you don’t have the time, allow the dough enough time to double in size, at least 1.5 hours, longer if you can. Tuck it away in a warm place.
5. If your dough has been refrigerated overnight, allow it ample time (at least three hours) to return to room temperature.
6. Place a cold pizza stone (or baking sheet) in your oven, and preheat to 500 degrees at least 1/2 hour before the pizza is ready to go. (If grilling, prep your grill now.)
7. Divide the dough into two balls. Lightly flour your work surface. Using a rolling pin, roll outward from the center of the dough. Continue pressing the dough out in all directions, aiming to maintain a roughly circular shape, until you’ve made a 12 inch crust.
To make the pizza in the oven:
1. Sprinkle a thin layer of cornmeal over your pizza paddle or cutting board. You don’t want it to stick when transferring to the oven. Carefully transfer the dough to the paddle.
2. Brush a thin layer of olive oil over the crust. Follow with a light sprinkle of sea salt.
3. Spread the crumbled goat cheese evenly over the dough. Follow with the figs. The prosciutto and basil won’t go on the pie until it’s out of the oven.
4. Sprinkle some more cornmeal on the pizza stone. Gently shake the the pizza from the paddle onto the pizza stone. Bake at 500 degrees for 8 to 10 minutes.
5. Remove from the oven and top with the prosciutto and basil. Serve immediately.
To make the pizza on the grill:
1. It’s remarkably simple! After your crust is rolled out and your grill is fired up, bring everything you need for the pizza to the grill.
2. You’ll want to work with a hot grill, but not so hot that the pizza burns. Arrange the coals so that you can move the crust away from the heat if necessary.
3. Brush one side of the crust with olive oil. Place this side down and grill for about two minutes, until the bottom has started to brown.
4. Flip the crust. Arrange the goat cheese and figs on the browned side. Cook for another 4-5 minutes, checking to make sure that the bottom doesn’t burn.
5. When it’s ready, add the shredded prosciutto and fresh basil. Serve immediately.
What’s your favorite pizza recipe? Let us know in the comments below!
Kimberley Hasselbrink is a food photographer and blogger based in San Francisco. She is the author of the blog The Year in Food, which is framed around a monthly seasonal food guide. Kimberley enjoys unusual produce, strong coffee, road trips and summer nights.