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Topped Pizza Adds New Twist to Popular Dish

October 16, 1986|JANE SALZFASS FREIMAN | Freiman is a New York-based food writer

Just when you think you have tried nearly every pizza recipe under the sun, along comes the topped pizza, one of the newer and more interesting versions of these popular pies.

Topped pizzas are pizzas made from ingredients added on top of a baked disc of dough which has been minimally seasoned with salt, pepper and olive oil.

The most interesting thing about topped pizzas is that they may be flavored with ingredients, such as smoked salmon, which lose flavor or texture in the oven. Toppings are added to the dough either warm or at room temperature and are slowly heated by the steam trapped in the dough itself.

While there are many variations on the theme, the smoked salmon pizzas are elegant and different.

A baking stone used to line the oven rack will produce professional-quality pizzas with a very crisp bottom. Alternately, the pizzas can be baked on a metal baking sheet although the texture of the dough will be altered.

Since all liquid ingredients, including the dough starter, are added to the processor at the same time, the processing time is increased slightly over doughs created when the starter is poured into the machine while processing. The dough should be completely kneaded in about 40 seconds. Once it has risen, dough can be kept on hand in a zipper lock plastic bag and refrigerated for as long as three days.

PIZZA TOPPED WITH SMOKED SALMON

3/4 teaspoon dry active yeast

2/3 cup warm water

Bread flour or unbleached all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon salt

Olive oil

Pepper

3 tablespoons minced chives

1/3 cup creme fraiche or sour cream

6 ounces thinly sliced smoked salmon

Combine yeast and 1/3 cup warm water in mixing bowl or 1-quart airtight container. Stir in 1/2 cup flour to form thick paste. Cover starter tightly and set aside until doubled, about 2 hours. (Can cover tightly and refrigerate as long as 5 days.)

Insert metal blade in processor. Add 1 1/4 to 1 1/3 cups flour, salt, remaining 1/3 cup water and starter. Process 40 seconds or until dough forms soft, moist (but not sticky) ball. Rinse large mixing bowl with warm water. Without drying bowl, add dough and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Set aside until dough triples in volume, about 2 to 3 hours.

Pull risen dough from bowl without kneading and cut in half. Cover and set dough pieces aside 10 minutes. (Can knead each piece into 4-inch-diameter cushion shape, place in zipper lock plastic bag and refrigerate 3 days.)

Adjust oven rack to lowest position and insert baking stone (optional) on rack. Lightly flour work surface. Stretch each piece dough to 9-inch circle, rotating and gently pulling as you work. Transfer dough to baking sheet.

Brush each dough circle generously with oil. Season to taste with pepper. Bake at 450 degrees 8 to 10 minutes, until bottom of crust is lightly browned.

Meanwhile, combine chives and creme fraiche. When pizzas are baked, immediately spread 3 tablespoons chive mixture on hot dough. Top with smoked salmon. Serve immediately. Makes 2 pizzas.

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