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This Changes Everything: Honey on Pizza

May 23, 2014

Photo credit: Jill Futter

Savory and sweet were meant to be together: Chocolate and pretzels. Peanut butter and jelly. And now, honey and pizza. After all, cheese and honey complement one another on a cheese plate—why wouldn’t they on pizza?

Emily, a new pizzeria in Brooklyn, has found success with two pies drizzled liberally with wildflower honey. “The Colony” (a red pizza laced with mozzarella, pepperoni, pickled chili, and honey) and “The Emily” (a white pie topped with mozzarella, pistachios, a truffle-laced cheese called sottocenere, and honey) are respectively the first and third-most popular of the restaurant’s nearly-20-pizza menu, which co-owner Emily Hyland attributes to the sweet ingredient.

Hyland encourages experimenting with the combo, though she suggests carefully considering a pizza’s other ingredients before lobbing a bunch of honey atop them.

"I don’t think honey is necessarily going to go with everything," she said. For instance, she "wouldn’t pair it with things that are also very sweet, like fig paste, because the honey would be overkill." But don’t be afraid to add honey to a pie topped with "salty meats" or "anything spicy," because the contrast is so winning. Drizzle the honey after the pizza is cooked, otherwise the dough may get soggy.

If you’d like to dip your toes in honeyed waters, try the modified Epicurious recipe for margherita pizza below. Drizzle as much honey as you like; even at Emily, the amount of honey on a pie varies.

"Depending on who does it, it might be heavier drizzle," Hyland said with a laugh. We wondered: Who has the heaviest hand? "I think I do!” she replied.

Pizza Margherita with Honey
Adapted from Epicurious
Serves 6

1 (1/4-ounce) package active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoon)
1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, divided, plus more for dusting
3/4 cup warm water, divided
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 (14-to 15-ounces) can whole tomatoes in juice
2 large garlic cloves, smashed
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 basil leaves plus more for sprinkling
1/4 teaspoon sugar
6 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
Honey to taste
Equipment: a pizza stone

Stir together yeast, 1 tablespoon flour, and 1/4 cup warm water in a large bowl and let stand until surface appears creamy, about 5 minutes. (If mixture doesn’t appear creamy, discard and start over with new yeast.)

Add 1 1/4 cups flour, remaining 1/2 cup water, salt, and oil and stir until smooth. Stir in enough flour (1/4 to 1/3 cup) for dough to begin to pull away from side of bowl. (Dough will be slightly wet.)

Knead on a floured surface, lightly reflouring when dough becomes too sticky, until smooth, soft, and elastic, about 8 minutes. Form into a ball, put in a bowl, and dust with flour. Cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel (not terry cloth) and let rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled, about 1 1/4 hours.

Pulse tomatoes with juice in a blender briefly to make a chunky purée.

Cook garlic in oil in a small heavy saucepan over medium-low heat until fragrant and pale golden, about 2 minutes. Add tomato purée, basil, sugar, and 1/8 teaspoon salt and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until thickened and reduced to about 3/4 cup, about 40 minutes. Season with salt and cool.

At least 45 minutes before baking pizza, put stone on oven rack in lower third of electric oven (or on floor of gas oven) and preheat oven to 500°F.

Do not punch down. Dust dough with flour, then transfer to a parchment-lined pizza peel or large baking sheet. Pat out dough evenly with your fingers and stretch into a 14-inch round, reflouring fingers if necessary.

Spread sauce over dough, leaving a 1-inch border (there may be some sauce left over). Arrange cheese on top, leaving a 2- to 3-inch border.

Slide pizza on parchment onto pizza stone. Bake until dough is crisp and browned and cheese is golden and bubbling in spots, 13 to 16 minutes. Using peel or baking sheet, transfer pizza to a cutting board. Cool 5 minutes.

Drizzle with the desired amount of honey and sprinkle with some basil leaves before slicing.