Pear and Gorgonzola Pizza with Caramelized Fennel

Photos by Jaymi Heimbuch

This recipe was created exclusively to pair with the 2010 North Coast Viognier from Cline Cellars. Available nationwide, the wine is crisp with floral aromas and notes of honey and pear. It is best served just slightly chilled and with this pizza, of course.

When pairing food and wine, I tend to shy away from related flavors. It can be incredibly boring. Just like choosing frozen yogurt toppings, it's always better when you get a little whimsical (bring on the Gummi Bears!). There are exceptions, though. Anyone who's topped their chocolate froyo with every single chocolate topping in the shop knows what I mean. This pizza is that exception.

The Pizza Dough

1/2 teaspoon yeast 3/4 t. extra-virgin olive oil 1 1/2 cup tepid water 3 cups all-purpose flour 1 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt

1. In a large mixing bowl add the water, yeast and olive oil.

2. Let the mixture stand for 10 minutes.

3. Add the flour and salt, mix into a homogenous ball.

4. Cover the mixture with a damp towel and let stand for 20 minutes.

6. Place on a floured tray and cover with plastic wrap.

7. Let it sit at room temperature for 4 hours or more.

The Toppings

Photos by Jaymi Heimbuch 2 large fennel stalks 2 ripe pears Gorgonzola 1 tablespoon of olive oil or more as needed

1. Remove the fennel's fronds (reserve for later use as an herb) and stalks.

2. Halve the bulb and remove the core from each half. Thinly slice.

3. Add just enough olive oil to a large skillet to lightly coat the the pan.

4. Warm the pan over a medium-high heat and add the sliced fennel.

5. Stir occasionally until the slices are mostly golden brown.

Photos by Jaymi Heimbuch

6. Wash and dry the pear.

7. Slice thinly.

Shaping and Baking the Pizza

© Kevin SchuderPhotos by Kevin Schuder Sheetpan or Baking Stone Parchment Paper Your risen, pillowy dough The toppings

1. Heat the baking sheet on your oven's highest temperature for 30 minutes.

2. Line the backside of a sheetpan with a layer of parchment paper.

3. Tap the dough center to deflate it then flatten it by pressing it down with your fingers.

4. Grab it along the edges and turn it like you would a steering wheel.

5. Grab the very edge so it is not paper thin in the middle nor very thick at the edge.

6. Give the dough a final stretch with the back of your hands to correct the shape.

7. Set the unbaked crust on the parchment paper.

8. Top with a thin layer of olive oil.

9. Quickly, open the oven, pull the rack out partway, and slide the pizza with the parchment onto the already hot pan or pizza-stone in the oven. Push it back and close the door.

10. After 5 minutes, quickly add the pear slices and Gorgonzola.

11. Bake it for another 2 minutes.

12. Top with caramelized fennel and enjoy!

Photos by Jaymi Heimbuch

Variations

Instead of pear, try Granny Smith apples. Dice the apples and pan fry it with the fennel and a 1/4 teaspoon of brown sugar.

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