Why You Should Make a Naked Pizza

Naked pizza might sound confusing at first, if not slightly scandalous. After all, half of the fun is adding flavorful toppings, so what’s the allure of nude dough? A naked pizza is more than it’s title — think of it as a starting point for alternative toppings. At its most basic, a naked pizza is pizza dough that’s unclad, un-topped, nude. Toppings are added after baking, and it could be something as simple as a smear of garlic and olive oil, or something more elaborate like a spoonful of fresh pesto, shaved Parmesan cheese, and a heap of arugula salad with orange segments. This type of pizza is great for folks who don’t enjoy the typical saucy pizza, or those avoiding heaps of melted cheese. You can add ribbons of delicate cured meats like prosciutto, or rosettes of thinly shaved mortadella, as well as fresh herbs or fresh fruit slices. The trouble with making bare pizza dough is that it lacks the protection that sauce and cheese normally create that keeps the surface of the dough moist and stretchy while the bottom crisps and browns. Believe it or not, ice cubes will work in place of the sauce and cheese. The evaporating water adds humidity to the oven air, preventing a hard skin from developing before the dough fully expands. Meanwhile, the surface of the crust stays moist while the bottom browns. By the time the ice cubes melt and the last puddles dry up, the crust is fully cooked on the bottom and tender on the top. All you have to do is distribute the ice cubes evenly around the surface of the pie, a couple of inches from the edge. Gently press them into the dough so they don’t all surf into the center. Bake until the crust is fully risen and the edges have browned, about 12 minutes at 450ºF. Remove the pizza and let it cool on a wire rack. Dress your naked pizza in something decent and you’re ready to go.