This is a tale of toil, agony, tears, and patience.
I’m new to the world of breads. Yeast used to make very nervous. It’s alive and temperamental, and you have to tread carefully to get it to do what you want. As any aspiring cook must do, I forced myself to confront my fear of yeast.
First, Janessa gave me a Kitchenaid stand mixer for graduation. Who can be scared of making bread when they have THIS beautiful thing, begging to be used? So, after mastering a good sandwich bread and a rustic French style bread, I turned to pizza dough – specifically, the Pioneer Woman’s pizza dough, which sounded so easy and almost too good to be true.
I started with an inspiration from The Pioneer Woman’s many pizza recipes, and sought to create my own twist by substituting some whole wheat flour in her pizza dough and adding caramelized red onions to her Fig-Prosciutto Pizza, while taking out the arugula. (Do most people like arugula? I just can’t.) My housemates and I were very, very pleased with the results, but the dough just wasn’t what I wanted. I’m one of those cooks who will expect nothing less than perfection and will be sort of sad if something I’m making doesn’t turn out exactly how I wanted.
I’m still haunted by my harrowing experience with lemon squares: they were my specialty, you see, and once when I was seven or eight, I forgot to add the sugar. The sugar! They ended up with a weirdly brown and crispy topping that tasted nothing like the lemony bliss my tried and true Gold Medal Flour children’s cookbook recipe usually brought. This sad story ended with me running with tears down my face to my room, where my mom tried to comfort me by telling me that at least the crust still tasted pretty great. Thankfully, I haven’t had any similar traumatic cooking experiences since.
Back to the pizza: The toppings were delicious, but the dough texture wasn’t pizza perfection. I had pretty much decided that this isn’t the dough for me and that I would have to try a more complicated recipe I found over at 101 Cookbooks. I will, someday, try this recipe, but I’m honestly a little intimidated by anything that comes from Peter Reinhart. He really, really knows his stuff, and I am but a young grasshopper.
The dough recipe I provide from the Pioneer Woman says it’s best to make the dough one day ahead of time, if not more, so it can ferment. I made the dough one day ahead of time and used half of the dough for Fig Jam and Prosciutto pizza, with less than perfect results. All is not lost! I quite happily discovered that this dough is really, very good after 5 days and with a few tweaks in the baking method. Without further ado, here’s the Fig Jam and Prosciutto Pizza recipe with the tweaked dough and a creative leftover idea after.
Fig Jam and Prosciutto Pizza
Slightly adapted from The Pioneer Woman’s Fig-Prosciutto Pizza with Arugula
▪ 1 recipe pizza dough (I used this dough recipe and substituted one cup of all purpose flour with whole wheat. Use whatever recipe you like.)
▪ 4 or 5 tablespoons fig jam
▪ 3 or 4 slices of prosciutto
▪ 12 ounces fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
▪ 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
▪ 1 heaping teaspoon of brown sugar
▪ olive oil
Preheat oven to 480 degrees Fahrenheit, with a pizza stone or heavy baking sheet on the middle rack. It’s important to preheat your baking sheet in order to get that nice crusty crunch.
Heat a little olive oil in a sauté pan and sauté onions in the brown sugar until caramelized, about 10 minutes; set aside.
Flour all surfaces of the dough then roll it out onto a piece of parchment paper that will fit your pizza stone or baking sheet. I actually just used my hands to spread it out, which worked quite well. And, well, I currently don’t own a rolling pin and use an old, washed wine bottle instead. Frugality!
Next, spread the fig jam over the dough. Even if it doesn’t seem like enough jam, try not to over do it; I added a bit too much this time and it made the dough soggy in places.
Add the mozzarella slices then top with prosciutto and caramelized onions. If you like, top everything with a little more mozzarella, either finely chopped or shredded. (I was too impatient too shred, so I opted for chopping.)
Slide the pizza on the parchment into the oven (this may require four hands), and bake for about 12 to 15 minutes, until the cheese and crust are nicely golden.
What to do with the other half of your pizza dough
Last night I made pizza with leftover chili*. Yes, from leftover chili. Oh man, it was so good.
I prepared the dough as per the instructions above, then spread a thin layer of barbecue sauce over it (I just really love barbecue sauce. Like, unhealthily so.) Next, the fun part: leftover chili! I was afraid of adding too much and weighing the pizza down, so I used about ¾ to 1 cup. I topped it all off with some grated Pepper Jack and Colby Jack cheese then transferred the whole thing to the hot baking sheet. 12 minutes later, the cheese was golden, and the crust? Perfect. It’s definitely not Italian, thin crust style pizza, but it had the nicest crunch and texture. I added a little green with a handful of coarsely chopped cilantro.
Creative leftovers are fun.
*Special thanks for the leftover chili from Braeden’s mom. 🙂