Introduction: Bacon and Caramelized Onion Pizza
Bacon. People love it. Readers devour every blog post that I write about it. This pizza combines the savory saltiness of bacon with the sweetness of caramelized onions, the freshness of tomatoes, and the tartness of bell pepper. And then there’s the cheese: a lot of mozzarella and a sprinkling of Parmesan.
Even the best pizza toppings need a great crust to taste good. King Arthur Flour’s Now or Later Pizza crust never fails to satisfy. The recipe offers several options on when to bake the crust.
Make this winning combination for potlucks and parties, or just enjoy it at home with the family. The recipe makes two 12-inch pizzas. Cut recipe in half for one pizza.
Step 1: Ingredients & Supplies
Now or Later pizza dough (Recipe in Step 2)
1 – 2 tsp. cornmeal
½ lb. (or more!) nitrite-free bacon
No-stick cooking spray
2½ lbs. onions (about 6)
1 tbsp. bacon fat (reserved from bacon)
1 tbsp. olive oil
¾ tsp. salt
1¼ cup cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half (6 oz.)
½ bell pepper, cut in julienne strips (3 oz.)
12 – 14 oz. grated Mozzarella cheese
3 – 4 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup pizza sauce (optional)
Two 12-inch pizza pans or stones
Step 2: Mixing Dough for Crust
For most flavorful crust, allow at least 4 (and up to 36) hours for this dough to chill in refrigerator before rolling out. Overnight chilling works great. Instructions are for mixing dough by hand. Check King Arthur’s original recipe for using bread machines or mixers with dough hooks. Semolina is a coarse, high gluten flour that enhances the crust’s texture. The following excerpt/adaptation is used with King Arthur’s permission.
1¾ cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
1¼ cups semolina (or substitute more unbleached flour)
1 tsp. instant yeast
1¼ tsp. salt
1 cup + 3 tbsp. lukewarm water
2 tbsp. olive oil
Mix together white and semolina flours, yeast, and salt with a wire whisk. Beat in water and olive oil with wooden spoon. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let dough rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. This allows the flour to absorb water, which makes kneading easier.
Step 3: Kneading and Chilling Dough for Crust
Gather the dough onto a floured surface and knead, adding more flour as dough gets sticky. Knead for about 8 minutes, until dough feels stretchy and holds together, but is still soft.
Form dough into a ball and put into a bowl. Dough will continue rising, even when refrigerated, so be sure bowl has extra room. Cover dough with a light coat of olive oil and cover bowl with plastic wrap. Allow to rise for 45 minutes at room temperature.
Refrigerate dough for 4 hours (or up to 36 hours). This step develops the crust’s flavor.
Step 4: Cooking the Bacon
The easiest way to cook a large quantity of bacon is by baking. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. Spread out ½ lb. or more of bacon so that no pieces overlap.
Put baking sheet on center rack of preheated oven. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes total, checking and flipping bacon after 10 – 15 minutes.
Remove bacon to a plate lined with paper towels to drain, reserving 1 tbsp. bacon fat to cook onions.
When cool, cut bacon into 1½ inch strips.
Step 5: Cooking the Onions
Peel 2½ lbs. onions and cut in half lengthwise. Slice into half rings about ¼ inch wide.
For perfectly caramelized onions, use an electric frying pan to precisely control the heat. It will take a little over 1 hour to cook the onions. Turn frying pan to 300 degrees. Add 1 tbsp. bacon fat and 1 tbsp. olive oil to pan. Then add half of the onions and top with ¼ tsp. salt. Make a second layer of remaining onions and top with ½ tsp. salt. Cover and let onions “sweat” without stirring for 20 minutes.
Stir onions and set cover on at angle so steam can escape. Cook for 40 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so to brown onions evenly.
If onions aren’t browning, there is too much liquid in the pan. Evaporate the liquid by raising heat to 350 degrees and stirring frequently. Keep an eye on them, and turn heat down to 300 degrees when onions start browning.
Onions are done when they are completely deep brown and soft. Turn off frying pan and set aside.
Step 6: Pre-baking the Crust
Sprinkle two squares of baking parchment with cornmeal, about ½ - 1 teaspoon each.
Remove crust from refrigerator and cut in half. Shape each half into a thick circle. Place circle on parchment and spread outwards from center with fingers or rolling pin until about 12 inches in diameter.
Cover with tea towel and let rise at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put pizza stones, if using, into oven.
Trim away excess parchment “corners” but leave enough parchment to grasp. Transfer crusts and parchment to pizza pan or pizza stone. Bake for 6 – 7 minutes.
Step 7: Topping and Baking the Pizza
While pizza dough is pre-baking, gather all topping ingredients together assembly-line style: mozzarella, caramelized onions, bacon, halved cherry tomatoes, julienned bell peppers, Parmesan cheese, and pizza sauce if using.
Remove pizza dough from oven and place on heatproof surface. Add toppings in this order:
• A layer of pizza sauce (optional)
• A layer of mozzarella cheese
• As many caramelized onions as you like: use tongs to pick them up
• An even distribution of bacon
• An even distribution of tomatoes and bell pepper
• A sprinkling of Parmesan cheese on top
Return pizzas to oven and bake until crust is golden brown and toppings are bubbly, about 8 minutes.
Remove from oven and enjoy!