A couple of weeks ago my husband was hanging out with his friends at a local sports bar. The bar is very popular for its chicken wings. Since, my husband is also vegetarian like me; the only thing he could order was vegetarian pizza. After coming home, for days he kept talking about this pizza…..which is pretty unusual from him since he is a hard nut to crack. I always look forward to trying new food and considering the source of appreciation, I felt compelled to check this place out and so last Saturday evening we headed to the Emerson bar. Honestly I must confess that the pizza was indeed very delicious, probably one of the best I’ve had in a long time. I loved it especially for the thin pastry like crust.
Of course, the next obvious step was to recreate the magic at home. For this, I needed to tweak my standard procedure of making the pizza base. I decided to replace the traditional whole wheat flour with the all-purpose flour, routinely used for making pastries. The pastry flour had finer and smoother texture than the regular all-purpose flour. For a thin and crispy crust firm enough to hold the topping, I reduced the amount of water for kneading the dough as well as the time of incubation for raising the dough. Adding some olive oil to the dough resulted in the right amount of crunch to the base after baking, making it crisp yet not too hard to bite.
I was tired of having the stereotype vegetarian pizza toppings and decided to give it a twist. I love having a slightly sweetish flavor to savoury dishes and felt that using green apple would provide just the right feel. I believe apple is a perfect fruit for the purpose of baking, since it when baked does not release too much water which would make the pizza base soggy. An apple would also add mild sweetness without turning it in to a dessert pizza. To complete the flavor and color of green apple I used red pepper which would provide the flavor of the red chillies without the heat. And finally, to complete the experience of a gourmet pizza, I needed fresh basil leaves and mozzarella cheese.
The next step is baking the pizza….for this step the right temperature and conditions are very important. I have been watching some shows on the food network where they bake the pizza in a wood-fire oven. In these ovens, pizza is baked at very high temperature, more than 1000o F or 500o C in short time. Yes my dream house does have a wood-fire oven built in the backyard, but for now I have to work with the oven in my current apartment kitchen. To recreate the atmosphere of a wood-fire oven I baked the pizza at highest temperature possible (500o C) on a pre-heated pizza stone. The pizza stone absorbs the moisture from the crust and bakes it evenly. Since, I was baking the pizza at very high temperature I reduced the cooking time and result was a gourmet apple red pepper pizza with crunchy crust and slightly roasted but not overcooked toppings.