Lemon, Smoked Mozzarella & Basil Pizza
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As much as I love lemons, the thought of placing them atop pizza never would have crossed my mind. Squeezing a wedge of lemon over a slice of white clam pizza — that’s natural; biting into whole slices of lemon, rind and seeds included — that takes some convincing.
But the story and photo of Kesté’s Pizza Sorrentina, a Neapolitan pizza topped with lemon slices, basil and smoked mozzarella, in the WSJ a few weekends ago sent me racing off to the store to find smoked mozzarella. Story goes that this pie was invented in Naples by a great pizza maestro’s daughter who created it for her lemon-adoring mother.
Never would I have imagined this group of ingredients to work so well together, but they do. And it makes sense. Lemon cuts the smokiness of the mozzarella; basil, even after seven minutes in the oven, adds a touch of freshness. The bites with lemon slices are big — tart and tangy and refreshing all at the same time; the bites without beg for one. But the beauty of the pizza lies in the balance: it would be a shame to overdo the lemon, to be flinging pieces aside rather than longing for more.
For lemon lovers, of course, this pie is a winner; but skeptics beware: it’s beguiling enough to win you over, too.
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Topping for one pizza:
- 6 thin lemon slices (as thin as possible)
- 3 ounces smoked fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
- 5 large leaves fresh basil
- extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling
Jim Lahey Pizza Dough:
Source: Bon Appetit
- 7 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (1000 grams) plus more for shaping dough
- 4 teaspoons fine sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
- Whisk flour, salt, and yeast in a medium bowl. While stirring with a wooden spoon, gradually add 3 cups water; stir until well incorporated. Mix dough gently with your hands to bring it together and form into a rough ball. Transfer to a large clean bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let dough rise at room temperature (about 72°) in a draft-free area until surface is covered with tiny bubbles and dough has more than doubled in size, about 18 hours (time will vary depending on the temperature in the room).
- Transfer dough to a floured work surface. Gently shape into a rough rectangle. Divide into 6 equal portions. Working with 1 portion at a time, gather 4 corners to center to create 4 folds. Turn seam side down and mold gently into a ball. Dust dough with flour; set aside on work surface or a floured baking sheet. Repeat with remaining portions.
- Let dough rest, covered with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel, until soft and pliable, about 1 hour. DO AHEAD: Can be made 3 days ahead. Wrap each dough ball separately in plastic wrap and chill. Unwrap and let rest at room temperature on a lightly floured work surface, covered with plastic wrap, for 2–3 hours before shaping.
To Make the Pizzas:
- During the last hour of dough’s resting, prepare oven: If using a pizza stone, arrange a rack in upper third of oven and place stone on rack; preheat oven to its hottest setting, 500°–550°, for 1 hour. If using a baking sheet, arrange a rack in middle of oven and preheat to its hottest setting, 500°–550°. (You do not need to preheat the baking sheet.
- Working with 1 dough ball at a time, dust dough generously with flour and place on a floured work surface. Meanwhile, soak lemon slices in water for 15 minutes, then pat dry.
- Place dough on a rimmed baking sheet and stretch, using your fingers, until it is approximately 8 to 10 inches in diameter. Distribute 3 ounces cheese over the surface, leaving a 1-inch rim. Arrange 6 lemon slices over cheese and tuck in 5 basil leaves, then drizzle everything lightly with oil, including the rim. Place on highest rack in the oven and bake until puffy, about 6 minutes; then turn on the broiler and broil until the crust takes on some color, 30-60 seconds. (Note: I skipped the broiling step.) Remove pizza from oven and serve. Repeat with remaining dough.
- Prep Time: 25 minutes
- Cook Time: 7 minutes
- Category: Pizza
- Method: Oven
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: homemade, pizza, lemon, smoked, mozzarella