Ok. I try really, really hard not to make ridiculous claims on this blog. Obviously, everything that I share with you is something I love and am excited about, but I can’t stand when food bloggers claim that something was “the best thing they’ve ever tasted,” because really? It’s just not.
Unless it is.
I’m having trouble putting this pizza into words. I’m generally excited about anything that involves cheese and carbs so that’s not out of the ordinary, but this combination, it’s like…
So much so that me and the hubs sat and ate an entire pizza in utter silence. I pretty much gave up on photographing the thing after it came out of the oven I was so excited.
Lucky for me (and you) the idea for this particular pizza topping just occurred to me the other night when preparing my weekly grocery list.
I’ve been meaning to make pizza for a while and just hadn’t gotten my act together. Normally, I’ll make a fig jam and prosciutto pizza, but that wasn’t really calling my name. I’m all about sweet and savory, especially on pizza, so I started searching my brain catalogue for other savory and sweet combinations.
Bacon and apple just felt right.
I wanted to add a little earthy herb action as well so I added some sage to the apples while I cooked them.
Oh yea, these bad boys are caramelized up the wazoo with some shallot in a large cast iron skillet for at least 30 minutes before getting smeared onto dough as the “sauce” for the pizza.
Then we add the bacon. All that wonderful bacon.
Cheese too of course. Mounds of cheese.
And then we die happy.
Note: For the best pizza, you want a really hot oven, parchment paper for easy transfer, and ideally a bread stone. If you don’t have a bread stone, an overturned baking sheet with parchment paper will work. But really, bread stone is a great tool for any home chef that wants to make pizzas, breads and other delicious things. I use mine all the time. They’re also great for maintaining an even temperature in the oven so I just leave mine in there.
Caramelized Apple, Bacon, & Gruyere Pizza
For pizza dough:
- 3 cups bread flour
- 1/2 tsp rapid rise yeast
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1 1/3 cups ice water
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
Makes enough dough for two large pizzas
- 6 or 7 slices thick cut Applewood smoked bacon
- 3 medium sized Gala apples or similar, peeled and diced
- 2 shallots, diced
- 2 tbsp freshly chopped sage
- 1 1/2 cups freshly shredded gruyere (I used the gruyere/cheddar blend from Trader Joe’s)
- 1 1/2 cups freshly shredded mozzarella (dry, not fresh in liquid)
For dough, start at least 24 hours in advance. As you know, I’m obsessed with America’s Test Kitchen, which is where the dough recipe originates. I have it memorized, and it is foolproof.
With a food processor, preferably with a dough attachment, add flour, yeast and sugar. Pulse a few times to combine.
Add your icy cold water over ~10 seconds while the blade spins, then let the dough rest for 10 minutes.
Add salt and vegetable oil, then process for another 30 seconds or until the dough is a silky ball. Store in the fridge in a covered, lightly oiled bowl for up to three days.
Start by preheating your oven, with the bread stone in it, to 500 degrees. Yup. Crank that baby up. Remove the pizza dough from the fridge, split, and form into two tight balls. Let them rise for an hour.
While the oven is heating up and the dough is rising, start your pizza “sauce.” Add your bacon to a pre-heated cast iron skillet or sauté pan on medium heat. Cook the bacon about halfway. Once the bacon is cooled, chop into bitesize pieces.
Remove most of the bacon grease except for about a tablespoon or two, turn heat to medium low and add your finely chopped shallot and apple. Add a pinch of salt too. Cook this down for the next thirty or forty minutes, stirring regularly, and adding some liquid to deglaze when it starts to stick. Perhaps a little beer, or even some white wine. The shallots and apples will become caramelized and soft.
When this is almost done add the sage, then start stretching out your pizza dough using plenty of extra flour. My technique for this is to let the gravity of the dough do most of the work, turning and using your hands to find the thicker areas of dough. If you get a tiny hole just patch it up and move on.
When the dough is stretched to your thickness of choice (I like thinnish) place it on a large sheet of parchment paper. Add a layer of apple onion goodness, some cheese, some bacon and more cheese. A fresh crack of pepper won’t hurt. With a cutting board, move the parchmented pizza onto your hot stone in the oven. Cook for ~10 minutes until golden and bubbly.
Pair this pizza with a nice crisp and hoppy beer like the new and very delicious Stone Brewing Go-To IPA, or a Two Brother’s Sidekick pale ale. The bitterness from the hops will counteract all that rich cheese. The light malt profile and carbonation will also work to battle the intensity while the fruity hop flavor will resonate well with the apple and sweet onion.
Remember this deliciousness the next time you have a pizza hankering. You won’t regret it.