Prepping the Dough
Bar Toma Chef di Cucina Erik Freeberg's pizza dough recipe (understandably a secret) consists of General Mills high-gluten flour, wheat germ for texture, dark rye flour for extra flavor, salt, sugar, and a sizable amount of yeast. The dough undergoes a two-day fermentation and proofing process before use. Before shaping the dough, he'll dust the work surface with fine-ground semolina flour to help keep the dough from sticking to things.
Freeberg uses a wooden pizza paddle as a size and shape guide. Using both hands, he forms a very subtle ridge along the circumference of the flattened dough—anticipating that the crust will rise and expand a great deal in the oven.
Get Oiled Up
Once the pizza has been shaped, drizzle a generous amount of 100 percent extra virgin olive oil onto its surface, then spread it around evenly with the palm of your hand.
The Pre-oven Ingredients
At the top left, the fine semolina used to coat the dough's undercarriage, which is shaken off through a slotted paddle before pies are cooked. After adding the olive oil, sprinkle the dough with Kosher salt, and then add a palmful of goat cheese, broken into pebble-sized pieces (it won't melt much, so be sure to spread it around). The "melted" leeks (sliced into ribbons, then sautéed over low heat with butter and olive oil until soft) go on next, followed by the dates.
Into the Oven
Bar Toma's oven can reach 800°, cooking a pizza in 3-4 minutes. Yeah. For the folks at home, Freeberg recommends using a pizza stone to mimic the brick oven's two-sided heat; preheat the stone for at least 30 minutes at your oven's highest temperature before adding your pizza, which should cook in about 8 minutes if all goes according to plan.
Through trial and error, Freeberg found that cooking the dates—while risking their getting burnt due to the fruit's high sugar content—instead of adding them after the oven allowed the dates to soften up and caramelize.
Out of the Oven
Look for noticeable signs of char along the outer edge of the crust and on the thinner ribbons of leeks.
Freeberg verifies the crust is nice and firm, and that the undercarriage has taken on a slight char. If he can lift it with no sagging, he's happy.
A handful of hazelnuts are added next, but first de-skin, toast and rough chop them. Then sprinkle on a few pinches of thyme.
Grated Pecorino Romano and parsley are among the last ingredients to go on.
Last but Not Least...
A healthy drizzle of balsamic vinegar. Freeberg opts for an 8-year aged balsamic from the same Italian producer that supplies Spiaggia with some of the most luxurious vinegars in the world.
The Good Stuff
The Acetaia San Giacomo's "essenza," which is parked in oak and chestnut barrels to age.
The Capriole Goat Cheese pizza, fully dressed.
The heated tug-of-war between wheat gluten and yeast creates the crust's unique balance of crisp and fluff.
Freeberg displays the flex and rigidity of Bar Toma's Roman-style crust...before digging into a slice.