Picking up where we left off Tuesday, here’s a strawberry leek pizza—because nothing showcases summer strawberries quite as well as dolloping them onto a cracker-like crust, alongside sauteéd leeks and cheese. The strawberry-leek combo here came to us after making Sara’s quesadillas, which, yes, we already referenced in the last post but, trust us, they’re good enough to warrant at least one more nod. The combination of golden, oily leeks with sweet, sliced strawberries is one of those classic pairs that, after you taste them together, you’ll want to apply elsewhere again and again. The night I came home from strawberry picking, Tim and I were standing there in the darkening kitchen, eating our slippery, gooey quesadilla triangles, wondering out loud where else strawberries and leeks could belong, “Paninis!” one of us said. “Grilled cheese!” from the other. Then, “Tarts!” “Pies!” “Quiche?” when, like a giant “of course!” it came to us. Pizza. Pizza!
Another “of course” moment came when I put together the dough for our first batch of crusts. For close to a year, we’ve been using the same wonderful kefir-soaked version, first with spelt flour and then with einkorn. After months of its consistently yielding elastic dough and thin, crisp crusts, something changed. We first noticed it when we were preparing to have friends over for dinner, back in March maybe. We had only 45 minutes until they’d arrive, and when I pulled out my resting dough, ready to press it out to be baked on a pizza stone, it crumbled in my hands. What was normally stretchy and flexible and soft had become dry and tough, like a nutty cookie dough. After a half hour of sheer panicked “Should we ask them to meet at a restaurant instead?” and “Let’s start over with a new batch!” we pulled a meal together, but barely. We heard something similar happened to Tim’s sister when she swapped yogurt for kefir in the recipe in her Ohio kitchen. Then the same thing happened to us on Easter, when we hosted ten friends for a big pizza lunch. But it wasn’t until last week, when I picked up some storebought kefir for the recipe instead of the yogurt we’ve been using for months that we confirmed, concretely, the problem: This pizza crust works best with kefir. Swap in the different bacterias and makeup of yogurt in a pinch, but do so at your own risk. Sometimes the yogurt-soaked dough turns out; sometimes it won’t.
The last “of course” is the one you’ve probably been thinking since you clicked over to this post:
Enough with the words already! These pizza pictures speak for themselves!
And, indeed, they do:
Happy weekending, friends. See you soon.
Strawberry Leek Pizza with Kefir-Soaked Einkorn Crust
Makes two pizzas, which Tim and I can almost polish off completely on our own
So as mentioned above, it’s taken us two dinner parties, a holiday luncheon and a last-minute phone call from my sister-in-law, who’d had dough resting on her counter and then seen it gone dry, to discover the variable throwing all bets off: Our kefir-soaked pizza crust only works with, go figure, kefir. Swap in yogurt, and you swap in risk. Sometimes the dough will work, and sometimes it won’t. Yogurt and kefir have different bacterial components, and those components interact differently with the flours and rising process. Consider yourself warned!
for the crust:
2.5 cups einkorn flour, plus more for flouring surface area and fingers (what is einkorn?)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
1 packet dry instant yeast (or 2 1/4 teaspoons)
1/2 cup plain kefir
1/4 to 1/2 cup warm water (i.e., not hot to the touch but warm enough to activate the yeast)
for the toppings:
Olive oil, for brushing
1 or 2 leeks
About a dozen strawberries, chopped
Large slices of high-quality mozzarella
Salt and pepper
Balsamic vinegar, to finish after the pizza comes out of the oven
A few hours before you want to have the pizza, assemble the dough and let it rise. In a medium bowl, combine einkorn flour, olive oil, salt, yeast and kefir; stir together. Add 1/4 cup warm water and stir, then knead, until dough comes together. If the dough seems wet, you may add a little more flour. If it seems too dry, you may add more of the remaining 1/4 cup water as needed. You’ll know it’s right when the dough is easily forming a cohesive ball. Douse it in a little extra olive oil, rolling it in the oil to coat. Cover the bowl and leave it in a warm place.
About an hour before you want to make the pizza, preheat the oven to 475F. If you have a stone (recommended!), place it inside to warm with the oven.
Prepare the leeks by taking discarding the long, green ends and focusing on the white and light green parts. Slice them up. Warm a teaspoon of coconut oil in a skillet on the stove over medium heat. Once it’s warm, add the leeks and sauté until golden and soft. (I used one leek for the two pizzas, but if you like a lot of oniony flavor, by all means, slice up two.)
When you’re ready to bake the pizzas, lay a piece of parchment on the counter and toss some flour on top. Pull the cover off the pizza dough bowl and divide the dough into two parts. Place the first on the floured parchment; add a little flour on top of it; begin forming it into a large crust. I like to flip it over a couple times to make sure the flour gets incorporated fully. Keep stretching and pulling until the dough is the size you like; it should be super thin.
Do the toppings by brushing the whole pizza with olive oil. Add half the leeks to each pizza, spreading them out all over. Top with half the strawberries and enough mozzarella to your taste. Lightly salt and pepper the whole thing.
If you’re using a stone and a peel like we were, cut the parchment paper right around the pizza dough, scoop the pizza onto your peel and slide it onto the stone in the oven. Bake for about 12 to 15 minutes, until cheese is golden and melty. Repeat with other half of dough.
When pizzas are done, remove from oven and top with drizzles of balsamic vinegar and olive oil.