It’s all cheese and apples at our house these days. Tonight, my man Tij and I were hankering for a pizza, so why not a pizza with cheese and apples? Why be shy and pretend we don’t love a pizza that’s a wee bit like apple pie?
Lucky for me, a Poe scholar at work gave me his pizza recipe this afternoon – so I was ready to knead while Tij read “The Raven.” On a whisper-cool night, this was perfect. Caw caw. We thought of Scholar Fusco as we sliced heart-shaped apple slices and tried not to grate our knuckles as we readied the cheese.
I had a puck of Farmer John’s Gouda in the crisper, another bit of fortune. When I lived in Wisconsin, I used to buy cheese from Farmer John at the Dane County Farmers’ Market – good stuff. Although you can use any gouda to top your pizza (recipe below), I like the understated taste of Farmer John’s – it’s a young gouda, and it’s texture is very smooth. The taste is vaguely cheddar-like with a sweet-sour note that goes nicely with tart green apples.
We make our pizzas in a 12-inch skillet, which crisps the crust. Dr. Fusco and Farmer John did right by us; this was an excellent pie, probably the best we’ve ever made.
Skillet Pizza with Gouda & Apples
First, the crust…
1 1/3 cup warm water
1 packet (2 ¼ tsp.) active yeast
1 Tbs. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbs. olive oil
4 cups flour (1 cup whole wheat, 3 cups unbleached white)
Using a standard mixer, combine water, yeast, sugar, salt, and olive oil. Measure the flours into a separate bowl, then add 1 ½ cup of the flour mixture to the yeast mixture. If you’ve got a dough hook handy, get it ready; otherwise use a wooden spoon to stir in the remaining flour a heaping spoonful at a time. Knead for 5 minutes.
Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl. Turn to coat with oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot for one hour, or until dough has doubled in size. Then punch the dough down and divide it in half. You’ll make two pies.
Now, the pie…
4-5 Tbs. fresh ricotta
6-8 slices of green apple (thin slices)
2-3 strips of Pancetta
1 cup grated Gouda
1 medium yellow onion, sliced
1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
Sprig of rosemary
While your dough is rising, caramelize onion: heat the skillet over a medium flame and add 1 Tbs. of oil, then add sliced onions. Turn the heat to low after five minutes, and go play a round of rummy. Turn onions occasionally until they are tender. Then add 1 Tbs. of balsamic and a sprinkle of brown sugar. Stir, then turn off the heat. You’ve got gorgeous onions. Put them in a bowl.
When the dough is ready to go, crank the oven to 500 degrees. Put the skillet in the oven while it warms. When the oven is done preheating, pull the skillet out, drizzle some olive oil around the bottom, and press half of your pizza dough into it so that you’ve got a funny little patted-down pizza crust that reaches the sides.
Bake this for 10 minutes. Play another hand of rummy.
Drizzle a little oil on the pizza dough when it comes out. Spread it around with the back of a spoon, then lather on the ricotta. Add apple slices, caramelized onions, torn bits of Pancetta, a few needles of rosemary, and finally the Gouda.
Turn the oven down to 425 degrees, and bake the pizza for 15 minutes, or until the cheese is really bubbly. Let sit for 5 minutes before cutting.