If you have space for a countertop oven, I highly recommend one. It can replace your toaster, but a good-sized one can also do most of the things your regular oven can do — roast your chicken, broil your fish, bake your cookies, toast your nuts — using only a fraction of the energy of your big oven.
And if you have a baking stone, you can even bake a loaf of bread, or a pizza sized just right for one or two people.
I adored my Cuisinart Brick Oven when it worked, but after I had two of them quit on me in the space of three years (the top element died in one, the door spring in the other) it was time for a change. The Breville Smart Oven came to live here a few weeks ago, and the first hoop I had it jump through, other than toasting bagels (at which it performs marvelously, by the way) was my favorite white pizza — potatoes with rosemary and garlic.
For pizza, the hotter the oven the better, and a stone is essential for a crisp crust. The Cuisinart oven went up to 500F, but most countertop ovens, including the Breville, max out at 450F. Even so, I still got a pretty nice pizza, on the stone I saved from the defunct Cuisinart. Preheating the oven/stone for at 30 minutes gets the stone good and hot; skimp on this step and you risk an underdone crust.
Then there’s the question of how to get the pizza onto the stone in one piece. My regular peels are too big for the little oven, and my giant spatula is too small for a 10-inch pizza. Corrugated cardboard to the rescue! I cut a piece just wide enough to fit into the oven cavity. After rolling the crust out on the counter, I dusted my homemade peel generously with a mixture of white and semolina flours, and assembled the pizza on it. It slid off and onto the stone like a charm.
If your stone doesn’t look as bedraggled as this, you need to use it more!
Potato, Garlic, and Rosemary Pizza
Yield: one 10 – 12″ inch pizza
- Mix and chill dough: 10 minutes
- Ferment dough: 1.5 hours at room temperature and 4 – 12 hours in the refrigerator
- Prepare and rest potatoes: 30 minutes
- Assemble pizza: 10 minutes
- Bake: about 15 minutes
Dough Ingredients (NB: this makes enough dough for two pizzas):
- 312 grams flour
- 3.3 grams (1 teaspoon) instant yeast
- 4.5 grams (3/4 teaspoon) salt
- 200 grams water
- 14 grams (1 tablespoon) olive oil
Topping Ingredients (for one pizza):
- one medium potato
- one large clove garlic, chopped
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 small shallot, thinly sliced
- a few whole rosemary leaves
- a few thin slices of goat cheddar or other cheese of your choice
- a pinch of Kosher salt
- In the bowl of a food processor with metal blade, combine the flour, yeast, and salt.
- Combine the water and olive oil in a liquid measuring cup. With the processor running, add the liquid in a thin stream.
- Process until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 90 seconds. Then knead the dough by hand for a few turns.
- Place the dough in a lightly-oiled bowl and ferment at room temperature for about 1.5 hours, until doubled in bulk.
- Divide the dough into two pieces of about 260 grams each. Shape each piece into a ball and place onto a lightly-floured, parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Slip the sheet into a large plastic bag and refrigerate for 4 – 12 hours.
- About 35 minutes before you will assemble the pizza, slice the potato very thinly. A mandoline is very helpful in getting the slices thin and uniform.
- Lay the slices on a kitchen towel, sprinkle them with salt, and roll the towel into a cylinder to enclose the potato. Let rest for 30 minutes. The potato slices should be wilted but not brown.
- 30 minutes before assembling the pizza, preheat the countertop oven, with baking stone, to its maximum temperature.
- Generously dust your countertop with a mixture of flour and semolina. Roll out one ball of dough to a diameter of 10 or 12 inches. If the dough resists stretching, take it as far as you can, let it rest for a few minutes to relax, and continue rolling.
- Dust your peel (or piece of corrugated cardboard) with the same flour/semolina mixture and place the crust on it.
- Brush the crust with olive oil and top with potato slices (you may not use the whole potato), chopped garlic, sliced shallots, and rosemary leaves. Top with the cheese slices, sprinkle with Kosher salt, and drizzle the remaining olive oil over all.
- Slide the pizza onto the hot baking stone. Bake for about 14 minutes (if your oven is at 450F), or until the crust is brown and crisp and the cheese is bubbly.