I decided to start this thread today to showcase pizzas that go beyond the more traditional pizzas--like the NY style thin-crust, deep-dish, cracker crusts and so forth. It's not that I don't like those pizzas. I am very fond of them, and they are the mainstay of my pizza portfolio. However, from time to time, I like to try something that stirs the few creative juices I have. As I come up with pizzas that I feel others will enjoy as much as I have, I plan to post the recipes along with photos, so that just about anyone can make them too. And I invite others to do the same on this thread if they are so inclined.
I will start today with an oyster pizza (see photo below). I happen to love oysters but they don't often reach the center of Texas. But when they do, I grab them and make the following recipe.
Pizza dough sufficient for one 12- to 14-in. pizza
One doz. freshly-shucked oysters (or an 8-oz. container, very well drained)
3 T. butter
5 cloves of garlic, sliced thinly
2 medium-sized jalapenos, diced (for high heat, leave seeds and membranes)
4 to 6 oz. Monterey Jack cheese, very thinly sliced or grated
Melt the butter in a skillet and add the oysters (very well drained) and garlic. Sauté until the garlic is cooked but not browned, and the oysters are firm. Distribute the oysters and garlic over the unbaked pizza crust, and drizzle the melted butter all over. Add the diced jalapenos and Monterey Jack cheese and bake on a pizza stone that has been preheated for 1 hour in a 500-550 degree F oven, until the pizza crust is browned and the cheese is melted, about 7-9 minutes.
Just about any dough recipe can be used for the above pizza, but for this type of pizza I like a chewy, yet open and airy crust with nice browning of the crust. To achieve these characteristics, I decided to use a dough made from a combination of all-purpose flour and cake flour, and with a high hydration level. As will be noted below, the recipe calls for the use of a stand mixer. However, I usually use (and prefer) a food processor (pulse feature only) since it handles small amounts of dough better than a stand mixer. But whether I use a stand mixer or a food processor, I process the dough only until it forms a smooth ball with a tacky feel to it. If I find it necessary to make minor adjustments, I do it right in the bowl, a teaspoon at a time, or I remove the dough from the bowl and make the final adjustments on a lightly floured work surface. The dough can also be make by hand.
Dough Recipe for Oyster Pizza
3/4 c. water (6.25 oz.), around 105-115 degrees F
1/2 t. active dry yeast
1 1/2 c. (6.90 oz.) all-purpose flour, unbleached
1/2 c. (2.05 oz.) cake flour (such as Softasilk or King Arthur Guinevere)
1 t. salt
1/8 t. sugar
Olive oil, for coating the dough ball
Combine the water (warm) and yeast in a small bowl and proof until foamy, around 5-8 minutes. Put the yeast mixture in the bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Combine the flour, salt and sugar and add gradually to the yeast mixture in the mixer bowl. The dough ingredients should be kneaded at low speed until no longer sticky and the dough forms a ball that is smooth and soft, about 5-8 minutes. Shape the dough into a round, place in a lightly oiled bowl, and turn to coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rise 4 hours in a warm place. Punch the dough down, brush lightly with oil, cover completely with plastic wrap, and let rise another 2-4 hours.
When ready to prepare the pizza, shape the dough ball into a pizza round (12-14 in.) by pressing your fingertips into the dough, leaving the edges puffy to create a rim (cornicione). Grasp the rim with your hands, working your way around the circle. The dough will be highly extensible with little elasticity, so it should be easy to pull, stretch and shape. As the dough dangles, it stretches by the force of gravity while the edge stays plump. (If the dough is too extensible, it can be shaped into a round entirely on the work surface, and the rim can be shaped by hand.)
The oyster pizza was extremely satisfying, with all the characteristics I had hoped for--a nice chewy, open and airy crust and with nice crust browning, both on the bottom and at the rim. The long fermentation period (a total of 6-8 hours) contributed a lot of flavor, and the jalapenos added a nice amount of heat, without overtaking the other flavors of the pizza and without detracting from the star of the show--the oysters.
Here's the photo of the finished product.