I can take credit for the execution of this week's pizza, and the flavor profile, too, but the fundamental technique—the true genius of this awesome pie—is all on Pizza Beddia, an artisan pizza shop in my neighborhood. There, owner and pizza maker Joe Beddia drizzles heavy cream directly on his signature white pie before baking (along with cheese and other toppings), and then finishes it with more heavy cream when it comes out of the oven. Though I haven't yet been there myself (lame, I know), a friend's recent description of this technique stuck with me, and I had to give it a try.
In my version of the white Beddia pie, I chose toppings that I knew would benefit from the flavor of fresh cream: leeks, bacon, and Fontina cheese. The result was creamy and just rich enough, and each ingredient stood out on its own, from the mild, buttery leeks to the salty-smoky bacon.
Genius White Pizza (with leeks, bacon, cream, and Fontina cheese)
Makes one 12-inch pizza
- 1 medium leek, root and leaf ends trimmed off, white–light green part halved lengthwise and then sliced into thin half-moons
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped
- 1 (14- to 16-ounce) ball Basic Pizza Dough (or pre-made dough)
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- ¼ pound Fontina or Gruyère cheese, grated
- 4 tablespoons heavy cream, divided
Place your pizza stone (if using) on an oven rack about 8 inches from the broiler. If you plan to cook your pizza on a baking sheet, place a rack in the middle of the oven (you do not need to preheat the baking sheet). Preheat the oven to 500°F and let it heat up for at least 30 minutes while you make the dough and/or prepare the toppings.
To prep the toppings: Fill a large bowl with cold water and add the sliced leek, then use your fingertips to separate the layers and swish the leeks around in the water. Set the bowl aside.
In a small skillet over medium heat, cook the bacon until it just begins to crisp at the edges, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and transfer the bacon to a paper towel–lined plate to drain.
Using a slotted spoon or your hands, lift the leeks from the water and transfer them to a colander to drain. (Do not dump the bowl of water and leeks into a colander to drain. As thy soak in the water any dirt between the layers will sink to the bottom of the bowl, so if you dump the whole thing at once, you'll just be covering the leeks in their own dirt again.) In a medium skillet or saucepan, melt the butter over medium-high heat and add the leeks. Sauté for about 5 minutes or until the leeks are very soft. Season lightly with salt and pepper and remove from the heat.
To stretch/roll out the dough: Dust the ball of dough with flour and place it on a well-floured work surface. Using your hands or a rolling pin, gently stretch or roll the dough into a 12-inch disk.
If you’re using a pizza stone: Dust a pizza peel or the back of a baking sheet generously with flour or cornmeal. Place the dough disk on the prepared peel.
If you're using a baking sheet: Spray the baking sheet with cooking spray. Place the dough disk on the prepared baking sheet.
To top the pizza: Drizzle the dough with olive oil and use a pastry brush to spread it in a very thin, even layer all the way to the edges of the dough. Sprinkle on half of the cheese, drizzle 2 tablespoons of the cream evenly on top of the cheese, then scatter on the bacon, leeks, and the rest of the cheese.
To bake the pizza: If you're using a pizza stone, 10 minutes before you are ready to cook the pizza, increase the oven heat to broil. Slide the pizza from the peel (or inverted baking sheet) to the hot stone using quick shimmying movements. Broil the pizza for 5 to 7 minutes until the bottom of the crust is crispy and the top is blistered. Using the peel or inverted baking sheet, transfer the cooked pizza to a cutting board. If you are making more than one pizza, allow the pizza stone to reheat under the broiler for 5 minutes before you cook the next one.
If you're using a baking sheet, do not increase the oven to broil. Place the baking sheet on the rack in the middle of the oven and bake at 500°F for about 10 minutes, until the crust is crispy and the top is blistered.
As soon as the pizza comes out of the oven, drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons of cream evenly on top. Let the pizza cool for 5 minutes, then slice and serve.