This simple Summer pizza has a bit of a back story (but then again, don’t all of my dishes have some disaster behind them). It all started innocently enough when I came across a post by Pete from Pete Bakes about creating a make shift brick oven using unglazed quarry tiles. I was growing disenchanted with the relatively small size of my pizza stones, so the idea of using these tiles to create a larger baking surface intrigued me. And not one to sit on my laurels when it comes to buying things for the kitchen, I headed out in search of these tiles. And this is when the story really began…
You’d think it would be easy to find unglazed quarry tiles, right? Well then, you’d be wrong. I started out by looking at the Garden District idly one day while walking along 14th Street. I didn’t find any tiles, but wasn’t too surprised given the fact that it’s not really Garden District’s specialty. So instead I tried the Home Depot in DC…and was told they don’t carry them anymore. No big deal, I thought, I’ll just try the Home Depot and Lowe’s stores in the ‘burbs. Nope…same answer of “Sorry, we don’t carry those anymore.” Had every store banded together and decided they no longer wanted to supply the home bakers of the world with their unglazed quarry tiles???? What the hell was going on? Out of desperation, we stopped at a Lowe’s on the way home from somewhere in BFE Maryland one day and I lucked out. I was giddy with excitement at finally getting my hands on a big box of tiles (that only cost me $9). This is where you would think the story ended with me happily throwing dough up in the air and proclaiming victory, right? Well once again, you’d be wrong. And where my issues with geometry would come in.
I will freely admit that I didn’t like Geometry in high school. I figured that unless I was going into a field that relied heavily on geometric principles, it would never be useful in my life. This would probably explain why I didn’t comprehend that 6 inch by 6 inch tiles wouldn’t all fit nicely in my oven. Or why I kept trying to force them in even when it was obvious they weren’t going to work unless they were cut. I had no idea what I was going to do. However, apparently the Boy had paid attention in Geometry class, as he whipped out a piece of paper, pen and a measuring tape and drew up the configuration I needed to cover the entire bottom rack in tiles. This, however, wasn’t helping me now. I was so looking forward to throwing a pizza on my new simulated brick oven that I may have had some irrational reactions (read: I went out to our balcony and started banging the tiles against the steps in hopes it would break just where I needed it).
Surprisingly, my tactics didn’t work, so I began calling around asking hardware stores if they cut tiles. I called one place (I’ll refrain from saying the name but it’s a well known local hardware chain) and spoke with someone who said it’s not a service they normally offer. When he offered to rent me a wet saw to cut the tile, I pointed out that I lived in an apartment and didn’t have the room to turn my place into a tile cutting factory. He then graciously told me, “If you come by here by 5:30 tomorrow evening, I’ll cut ‘em for you.” I was so ecstatic and thanked him profusely for offering to cut them for me. The Boy offered to take them over after work since I didn’t get off until 5. And I bet you’re probably thinking this is the end of the story and the beginning of my love affair with my new simulated brick oven, right? Shock of all shocks, you would (once again) be wrong. You’re not doing so well, are you?
When the Boy made his way to the hardware store that shan’t be named, he discovered that the person who offered to cut the tiles for us had already left…at 4:30. I was apoplectic, not only at the lack of consideration on hardware guy’s part but at the fact that I wouldn’t be using my simulated brick oven that night. But being ever so resourceful, the Boy had contacted several places in Annapolis and found a Lowe’s that was willing to cut the tiles for us. So on his way home from work the next day, he stopped at the Lowe’s with the tiles in hand. And they cut them…for free! I’m still not sure how or why that came about, but I had my tiles! So you’re probably thinking this is where I happily throw together this amazing pizza and toss it into my new simulated brick oven, right? Congratulations because you finally got one right.
This is an easy pizza to make (if you’re not sobbing hysterically because of the lack of a simulated brick oven) and even better, it highlights the flavors of Summer. All of the ingredients for the pizza toppings came straight from my trip to the Falls Church Farmers Market: plump, big tomatoes; a huge hunk of elephant garlic; fragrant basil (that you could smell from a mile away at the market) and fresh balls of mozzarella. Even the milk for the roasted garlic sauce that served as the base for the pizza came from the farmers market. The freshness of the ingredients and the wonderfully versatile olive oil dough made for a fantastic Summer dinner.
Tomato, Basil and Mozzarella White Pizza
Toppings for the Pizza:
2-3 ripe tomatoes, sliced
1 small bunch fresh basil, julienned
1 ball fresh mozzarella, sliced
1/4 cup brown sugar
2-3 tablespoons salt
1 batch roasted garlic sauce (see recipe below)
1 pizza crust dough (I used the fabulous Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day Olive Oil Dough recipe)
Place the tomato slices on a baking sheet and sprinkle them with the brown sugar and salt. Let them stand for at least 35 minutes before using them on the pizza. Now turn your attention to the roasted garlic sauce.
For the roasted garlic sauce:
4 garlic heads, roasted
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 500 degrees (or the highest temperature on your oven). If you have a baking stone, place it in the oven now.
NOTE: Make sure you have all ingredients right at the stove and ready to go before starting to make the sauce. Also, make sure you have a small whisk at the ready.
Roast four heads of garlic for about an hour (see this post if you are not familiar with roasting garlic). Remove the garlic from the oven, slightly open each garlic pouch and allow to cool completely. Once cool, squeeze out the garlic “paste” from each clove of garlic into a bowl.
Next, warm the milk slightly (this can be achieved either via the stove or the microwave…I used the microwave and it worked great), making sure to keep it from foaming up. Set aside the warmed milk. In a saucepan, completely melt the butter over medium heat. When the butter starts to bubble, slowly stir in the flour and milk, whisking with the other hand. Whisk until the mixture is smooth, ensuring no lumps have formed. Remove the mixture from the heat and add the garlic paste. Continue whisking until the garlic is incorporated into the sauce completely.
To build the pizza:
When your dough is ready to use, roll it out on a floured surface until it’s about 10 inches in diameter. Sprinkle corn meal on a baker’s peel (or the back of a baking sheet if you don’t have a peel) and place the dough on the cornmeal. Using a large spoon, dollop some of the garlic sauce in the center. Using the back of the spoon, spread the sauce out over the dough in a circular fashion. Do not put sauce along the edges of the dough. Continue to do this until there is enough sauce on the dough to your liking. Place the tomatoes around the dough and then place the mozzarella slices strategically around the tomatoes and in the spaces where there are no tomatoes on the pizza. Finally sprinkle the pizza with the basil.
Shimmy the pizza from the peel (or baking sheet) and onto the baking stone. If you don’t have a baking stone, simply place the pizza in the oven on the back of the baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. Check the pizza half-way through to see if one side is browning faster than the other. If this is the case, rotate the pizza for even cooking.Print This Recipe