Guest post from Alexandra Stafford, aka Alexandracooks.
You know summer has arrived when your favorite slice of pizza at your favorite neighborhood spot all of a sudden tastes too cheesy, too greasy, too heavy. In an effort to make a lightened-up version of a favorite slice, I stripped it of its cheeses and baked the dough naked. Unburdened by layers of toppings, the dough sprung beautifully on my secret weapon, the Baking Steel, emerging with crests and craters, a landscape that so nicely catches a heavy brushing of herb-and-garlic olive oil. This hand-chopped pesto-esque sauce can be used as a guide — change up the herbs, add some spices, throw in some nuts. Just be sure to keep it light. This herb-topped naked pizza makes an irresistible summer appetizer, but with a hearty salad could of course complete a meal.
Naked Pizza with Basil & Garlic
1 round pizza dough (Lahey Dough recipe below)
2 small cloves garlic
1 cup of loosely packed basil leaves
crushed red pepper flakes to taste
2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tablespoons finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano
sea salt for finishing
1. Place your Baking Steel in the oven and preheat your oven to 550ºF. Allow Steel to heat for 45 minutes.
2. About 20 to 30 minutes before baking, remove pizza dough from fridge and place on a lightly floured work surface. Place a sheet of parchment paper onto your pizza peel.
3. Meanwhile, make the basil-garlic sauce: mince garlic with a pinch of salt. Stack basil leaves, roll them into a coil, and cut into thin slices. Then mince the basil slices with the garlic. Transfer mixture to a small bowl. Season with a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil (or enough so that the basil is just submerged) and the cheese. Stir.
4. Gently stretch your pizza round into a circle, roughly 11 inches in diameter. (Note: You can do this in the air using the backs of your hands to gently stretch out the dough; or you can do this on the surface of your board.) Place dough onto parchment paper-topped peel. Drizzle lightly with olive oil.
5. Shimmy your dough onto your Steel. Bake until dough is blistered and lightly golden, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board. Brush with basil-garlic mixture. Sprinkle with sea salt. Cut and serve immediately.
Lahey Pizza Dough:
1000 grams flour, preferably tipo 00, plus more for shaping dough 4 teaspoons fine sea salt 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
3 cups of water
1. Whisk flour, salt, and yeast in a medium bowl. While stirring with a wooden spoon, gradually add 3 cups water; stir until well incorporated. Mix dough gently with your hands to bring it together and form into a rough ball. Transfer to a large clean bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let dough rise at room temperature (about 72°) in a draft-free area until surface is covered with tiny bubbles and dough has more than doubled in size, about 18 hours (time will vary depending on the temperature in the room).
2. Transfer dough to a floured work surface. Gently shape into a rough rectangle. Divide into 6 equal portions. Working with 1 portion at a time, gather 4 corners to center to create 4 folds. Turn seam side down and mold gently into a ball. Dust dough with flour; set aside on work surface or a floured baking sheet. Repeat with remaining portions.
3. Let dough rest, covered with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel, until soft and pliable, about 1 hour. Wrap each dough ball separately in plastic wrap and chill.