This is the perfect pizza for late summer and early fall when corn and tomatoes are plentiful. It features fresh corn, juicy cherry or grape tomatoes, a fool-proof no knead pizza dough, creamy béchamel sauce, and mozzarella. It will quickly become your favorite pizza of the season!
240grams(about 8 ounces) fresh mozzarella, pulled into large clumps
4medium garlic clovesfinely chopped
Pinchof chili flakes
Fine sea salt
Extra-virgin olive oilfor drizzling
200grams(16 to 24) cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
240grams(about 1 ⅓ cups) fresh corn kernels
32medium basil leavesroughly torn
No Knead Pizza Dough:
In a medium bowl, thoroughly blend the flour, yeast, and salt. Add the water and, with a wooden spoon or your hands, mix thoroughly.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and allow it to rise at room temperature (about 72°F) for 18 hours or until it has more than doubled. It will take longer in a chilly room and less time in a very warm one.
Flour a work surface and scrape out the dough. Divide it into 4 equal parts and shape them: For each portion, start with the right side of the dough and pull it toward the center; then do the same with the left, then the top, then the bottom. (The order doesn’t actually matter; what you want is four folds.) Shape each portion into a round and turn seam side down. Mold the dough into a neat circular mound. The mounds should not be sticky; if they are, dust with more flour.
If you don’t intend to use the dough right away, wrap the balls individually in plastic and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Return to room temperature by leaving them out on the counter, covered in a damp cloth, for 2 to 3 hours before needed.
Pour ¼ cup of the milk into a saucepan. Cut the butter into a few chunks (so they’ll melt more easily) and add to the milk. Heat over medium-low heat, stirring, until the butter melts but without allowing the milk to reach a boil.
Meanwhile, put the flour in a small mixing bowl, add the remaining ½ cup milk, and whisk into a slurry. Once the butter has been completely incorporated into the hot milk pour some of the warm mixture into the cold flour mixture to warm it. Pour the contents of the bowl back into the saucepan and whisk it in. Stir in the salt.
Over medium-low heat, whisk the mixture frequently–to prevent sticking–as it cooks and thickens. The béchamel is done when it has reached the consistency of a runny sauce or heavy cream (it should easily coat the back of a spoon). Grate in the nutmeg and allow the sauce to cool to room temperature. It will continue to thicken slightly as it cools. Use the béchamel immediately or cool, cover, and refrigerate for up to 5 days; bring it back to room temperature before using.
To Make the Pizzas:
Put the pizza stone on a rack in a gas* oven about 8 inches from the broiler. Preheat the oven on bake at 500°F for 30 minutes. Switch to broil for 10 minutes.
Take one ball of the dough and generously flour it, your hands, and the work surface. Then press it down and gently stretch it out to 6 to 8 inches. Supporting the disk with your knuckles toward the outer edge and lifting it about the work surface, keep stretching the dough by rotating it with your knuckles, gently pulling it wider and wider until the disk reaches 10 to 12 inches. Alternatively, stretch the dough on the work surface by massaging it into a roundish disk about 10 to 12 inches, but don’t handle it more than necessary. Set the disk on a well-floured peel. It is now ready to be topped.
With the dough on the peel, spoon ¼ of the béchamel sauce over the surface and spread it evenly, leaving about an inch of rim untouched. Sprinkle the surface with ¼ each of the Parmigiano and mozzarella. Evenly sprinkle the pie with ¼ of the garlic, chili flakes, and salt and drizzle just a little olive oil over the top. Arrange ¼ of the tomato pieces over the pie and scatter ¼ of the corn on top. Distribute ¼ of the basil around the pie.
With quick, jerking motions, slide the pie onto the stone. Broil for 3 ½ minutes under gas (somewhat longer with an electric oven--see notes below), until the top is bubbling and the crust is nicely charred but not burnt.
Use the peel, transfer the pizza to a tray or serving platter before slicing it into wedges. Serve immediately. Repeat with the remaining ingredients to make 3 more pizzas.
*For an electric oven* place the stone 4 inches from the top heating element, and preheat, on bake, at 500 degrees F for the usual 30 minutes. Then, open the oven door a few inches and leave it ajar for about 30 seconds. Some of the ambient heat will escape, but the stone with stay just as hot. Now close the oven door and switch to broil for 10 minutes to heat the surface to the maximum. Open the door and slide the pizza in to broil. Because the stone is so close to the element, you may need to pull the rack out a few inches to get the pie centered on the stone; do it quickly and don’t worry about losing too much heat. With the door closes, broil for roughly 1 to 2 minutes longer than specified for gas–until the crust is adequately charred but not burnt and the toppings are bubbling.
*For a bottom broiler* start with the stone in the broiler at the lowest level or on the floor of the oven. Preheat on low for about 20 minutes, and then switch to high for another 5 minutes. Slide in the pizza, close the drawer, and broil as instructed by the recipe (most often 3 ½ to 4 minutes), until bubbling and properly charred–checking to be sure it’s not burning.
Every oven is different. Every pizza stone is different. You may need to test out this technique and make some adjustments for your own oven and pizza stone to get it just right. Please be aware of this before following the recipe!
Some ovens have safety features that will cause the oven door to lock or the oven to turn off (perhaps with an error code) if it overheats. I personally have experienced this with two different electric ovens! Don’t panic. You can usually reset this by unplugging the oven or resetting the circuit breaker in your breaker box. I just want to be crystal clear on these potential issues different ovens may cause because I have experienced them myself, and lived to tell you about them (and still had delicious pizza to eat afterward).
If you find that your pizza is getting super charred on top but not baked or browned enough on the bottom, don’t panic! Here’s a good method that has worked for me. When the pizza is charred to your liking, remove it from the pizza stone with your peel and transfer it to a baking sheet. You can return it to the oven on a lower rack (not on the stone directly) and continue to bake it for another minute or two if needed.
I actually do this above method with my pizzas after they are all baked and I want to heat them back up right before serving. I will turn off the broiler and switch the oven back to bake, and then return the pizzas to the oven on baking sheets, or even back onto the pizza stone. Without the broiler on they shouldn’t continue to char, but instead will heat back through.
The pizza dough should be cooked through since it’s so thin, even if it’s not too browned underneath compared to the charred top. It’s hard to mimic a professional pizza oven even with these steps, but your pizza will still be crusty and bubbly despite the limitations.
Although this béchamel technique is not classically French (making a roux and then whisking in the hot milk), it works beautifully. I may not use it for all of my béchamel needs (making macaroni and cheese, etc), but I’m glad to have learned something new and will definitely use it in the future for making white pizzas and to make béchamel for other purposes.