The Tale of the Persian Persimmon Pizza — D’oh!
I preach boldness to myself, even so, I routinely shy away from many risks and adventures and even harmless culinary escapades like making bread or pizza dough because I feel intimidated. But a good many months ago I wanted to entertain and feed a little boy I adore who adores all things carb and bread and pizza and I was thus motivated to finally take the plunge to make a pizza from scratch to make him happy. (In a battle between intimidation and love, fear often whimpers away and goes poof!) I looked for a foolproof recipe and it was Suzanne’s very easy quick pizza dough recipe to the rescue which came out great, smelled quite good, felt wonderful to touch when handled (pliable, soft, stretchy) and made for a toothsome pizza (even though I burned it a bit) that was devoured with enthusiasm.
Learning how to make a homemade pizza is a delicious but dangerous skill. There are very many calories in a given slice and a given slice can be eaten in a lickety-split and yet your tummy goes right back to demanding: Gimme More you troll! So rather intentionally, I refrained from avidly exercising this new-found skill. At the same time, making dough is such a tactile pleasure and a plain pizza dough itself is a blank canvas primed to be personalized and beckoning customization with an endless versatility of taste and toppings and flavors and I’ve since positively yearned to make a series of so-to-speak-Persianized pizzas.
The first Persianized pizza idea that popped into my head was to use persimmons. They are in season here in the U.S.; they are lovely to look at and to taste (although it took yours truly many years until I learned how to eat and enjoy persimmons); and they remind me of my childhood in Iran. I was beaming with confidence that a persimmon pizza topping was my very own singularly brilliant and novel idea but a “persimmon pizza” Google query quickly slapped me out of this notion and I snapped out of it. (Extra credit & pizza toppings for you if you get the movie allusion, ha ha!)
Refuting my unique genius, as mentioned, there are a good number of persimmon pizza recipes out there, and a conference of persimmons with goat cheese and basil seems to be the most popular combo for this type of pizza. Instead of reinventing the wheel, I went with the popular tried & true & praised triumvirate. And let me tell you: the flavor & texture combination of persimmon and goat cheese is heavenly. Heavenly! Both are soft and comforting in the best way, and one is delightfully pungent while the other is delectably sweet, and topped with the pizza bread they are yummy yummy yummy. And basil of course plays beautifully with persimmon and cheese and dough and brightens up the entire game.
If I make this pizza again, though, I’d like to experiment with a more melty type of cheese (the goat cheese softened but didn’t melt the way I was hoping it would; and I also think a sharper flavored cheese may work nicely as well) and also next time I won’t skimp on the dough (I halved mine and the result was a thin crust that turned crispy instead of pillowy.) This persimmon pizza I feel pays merely a lip-smacking service to Persianizing, so I will do better next time instead of taking the easy way out. A Twitter friend suggested berberry as a topping, which: love the idea! Very inspiring and plan to use it. The beauty of pizza is that it opens up wide the doors of experimenting with different tastes and textures and I definitely want and plan on making many different types of Persianized pizzas in the near future.
A couple of notes before moving on to the recipe:
- When I say pizza, I really mean “pizza” & thus do not mean to in anyway co-opt and appropriate the real and authentic Italian pizza which is exceptional and incomparable.
- Whenever I read or type the words “pizza pie” I invariably hear these lyrics playing in my head: ♪ When the moon hits your eye, like a big pizza pie, that’s amore. ♫ For those of you in the know, these are lyrics of a Dean Martin song that opens and closes the film Moonstruck. If you are a fan of this movie like me, I have got to share this recent and awesome Flickr find of the actual brownstone where Cher lived in the movie Moonstruck. Corner of Cranberry & Willow, in Brooklyn Heights, Brooklyn. Isn’t that cool?
And now: Pizza Pizza!
For the quick pizza dough – adapted from original recipe here:
- 2 1/2 cup flour
- 2 1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup tepid water
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
For the pizza topping:
- 5 ounces goat cheese
- 2 ripe or semi-ripe persimmons, peeled, and sliced
- a handful of fresh basil
- a drizzle of olive oil
- In a large bowl add the warm water; sprinkle with yeast and let sit for 5 minutes. Whisk oil and salt into the mixture. Add flour and stir until a sticky dough forms. With clean hands knead the dough for about 10 minutes until it is smooth and elastic. Sprinkle a bit more flour if the dough seems a little too moist or sticky.
- Transfer dough to a lightly-oiled bowl and turn to coat all sides with oil. Cover bowl loosely with a plastic wrap or a tea towel and let sit in a warm draft-free place for 1 to 1 1/2 hour until the dough doubles in bulk.
- Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Line a pizza pan with parchment paper or aluminum paper.
- Remove dough from bowl and divide in half. Freeze one portion in a freezer bag (it keeps for up to months.) The other portion, transfer to a lightly floured work surface and gently knead a few times until it is smooth. Use fingers and heels of hands to shape the dough and stretch dough on your pizza pan.
- Lightly brush dough with olive oil. (This prevents dough from getting soggy from the toppings.) Add the persimmons and cheese. Bake until the crust is golden brown.
Just before serving, garnish with fresh basil leaves and drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil.