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In Season: Summertime Pizza

Thu, 05/24/1979 - 16:15
Durell Godfrey

Pizza may be a year-round staple, but in the summer season it can take on a special bright freshness. Now is the time. Herbs, fresh tomatoes or even a little ratatouille discovered while rummaging in the refrigerator are wonderful additions, providing you make the pizza yourself, an activity that allows for creative innovations and saves on gasoline. 

Although a yeast dough is required, preparing a pizza from scratch is a relatively short-term project — an hour and a half. Allowing the dough to rise in a warm place (oven with pilot lit, electric oven turned on for a few minutes and turned off or a sunny spot outdoors) speeds the action. 

Summer Pizza 

    1 package active dry yeast 
    1/2 tsp. sugar 
    1 cup lukewarm water 
    3-4 Tbsp. olive oil 
    Salt and freshly ground black pepper 
    1 cup whole wheat flour 
    1 1/2-2 cups all-purpose flour 
    Yellow cornmeal 
    1 large clove garlic, mashed 
    1 cup fresh tomato pulp (fresh tomatoes peeled, seeded, juiced and finely chopped) or ratatouille 
    2-3 ripe tomatoes, peeled and in thin slices 
    2 tsp. minced fresh basil 
    3/4 lb. mozzarella cheese, shredded
    1/2 cup prosciutto or pepperoni, in slivers (optional) 

Mix yeast and sugar in a bowl, add one-quarter cup of the water and stir to dissolve yeast. Set aside in a warm place for five minutes, until frothy. Add remaining water, two tablespoons of the oil, one teaspoon salt, a generous grinding of pepper and the whole wheat flour. Mix well. Stir in one cup of the white flour. Add one-half to one cup additional flour, enough to make a soft dough that leaves the sides of the bowl.

Knead on a well-floured board for five minutes, adding additional dough if necessary. Dough should not be sticky or too stiff. The mixing and kneading work very well in a food processor. Place dough in a well-oiled bowl, turn to oil the top, cover with a cloth and set in a warm place to rise until doubled, about 40 minutes. While the dough is rising, it is a good time to assemble the filling ingredients.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Sprinkle an oblong jelly roll pan (black metal is preferable) with cornmeal. Punch dough down and roll into an oblong shape. Transfer to pan and stretch to fit into the corners and sides.

Rub the dough with crushed garlic. If using tomato pulp, season it with salt and pepper and mix with one tablespoon of oil. If ratatouille is used it should be well chopped. Spread tomato pulp or ratatouille over dough, to within one-half inch of the edges, arrange tomato slices on top and dust very lightly with salt and pepper and a few sprinklings of oil. 

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