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Paint Me A Pizza

The trouble with designing a pizza, or perhaps the beauty of it, is that there’s just so much choice.

Like a painter who has no subject before them to guide their work, the pizza creator is limited only by imagination – and, one hopes, a good sense of taste – in choosing the canvas, colours and textures of their design.

So it was that I found myself pondering endless possibilities for the latest five star makeover mission, to spruce pizza up with our own particular brand of spit and polish. Bewildered somewhat by the choices, I did, in the end, what I often do – I lead my pizza down an Irish road.


Cheese and potato pizza

This pizza may look like an Italian favourite, but it's got lots of Irish flavour

Soda Bread Pizza a.k.a. Irish Cheese & Potato Pizza

Cheese and potato pizza slice

I could have called this an Irish four cheese pizza, for it is that, among other things.

It features some of our wonderful Irish farmhouse cheeses: salty, pungent Bellingham Blue, Swiss-style St. Gall, Irish buffalo mozzarella (yes, there is such a thing and it is available in Fallon & Byrne) and the hard, intensely-flavoured Desmond cheese. Somewhat amazingly for an Irish cheese pizza, there is not a lump of cheddar in sight.

The base uses a soda bread dough, and, in addition to the cheeses, there are potatoes (naturally) along with leeks and another vegetable familiar to Irish tables, the yellow-fleshed turnip (known as swede in England and rutabaga in the US, its sweetness here contrasts well with the salty blue cheese). I threw in some of my home-grown cherry tomatoes for good measure, and there’s also a kick of garlic and thyme. All in all, I’d say it’s a design I’m pretty happy with.

For the topping:

  • 150g potato
  • 100g yellow turnip (swede / rutabaga)
  • 1 tblsp butter
  • 150g leek, white and light green parts finely sliced
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 50g St Gall cheese (or substitute emmental), grated
  • 150g cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 50g Bellingham Blue cheese (or substitute gorgonzola), crumbled
  • 150g fresh buffalo mozzarella, thinly sliced
  • 3 tblsp grated Desmond cheese (or substitute parmesan)

For the dough:

  • 200g plain flour
  • 0.5 tsp baking soda
  • 0.5 tsp salt
  • 25g butter, softened
  • 100-125ml buttermilk
  • a little cornmeal to scatter on the baking tray

You’ll also need:

  • A large frying pan plus a large baking sheet, around 30cm x 40cm (or, if you have them, you can use a pizza peel and baking stone)

The Steps:

  • Preheat your oven to 200C. If you’re using a baking stone, place it in the oven to heat.
  • Scrub the potato and, leaving it unpeeled, slice it as thinly as you can (using a mandoline if you have it). Rinse the sliced potatoes in several changes of cold water, so that most of the cloudy starch is washed off, then drain and pat dry.
  • Peel the turnip and slice thinly (again, using a mandoline if available).
  • Place your frying pan over a medium heat. Add the butter and, when melted, add the leeks, a pinch of salt and the thyme leaves. Stir and fry for about 4-5 minutes, until just starting to soften. Add the garlic, stir and fry for about a minute more, then remove from the heat.
  • Now, to make the dough, in a medium-sized bowl, add the flour, baking soda and salt. Whisk well, then add the butter and rub in until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Make a well in the center and add most of the buttermilk. Mix gently with your hands until it just comes together as a dough, adding a little more buttermilk if necessary.
  • Gently roll out the dough into an approx. 30cm round.
  • Scatter your baking sheet with some cornmeal and transfer the rolled-out dough to the sheet (or transfer to a pizza peel if you want to use a baking stone).
  • Spread the softened leeks over the dough base. Add the turnip slices in a single layer, followed by half of the potato slices. Scatter over the St. Gall cheese (or emmental), followed by the rest of the potato slices. Finish with the cherry tomatoes, blue cheese and sliced mozzarella, then top the lot off with the grated Desmond cheese (or parmesan).
  • Place the pizza in the oven (transferring from pizza peel to baking stone if using). Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the dough is browned, the cheese is bubbling and golden and the potatoes and turnips are cooked through. Now slice, serve and enjoy

The Variations:

  • You could, of course, use a regular pizza crust here and change the selection of cheeses, based on what you have available.

The Results:

  • One approx. 30cm round pizza, serves 4-6

By the by…

All this talk of cheese reminds me that plans are afoot by our Irish government to ban the sale of raw milk here before the end of this year. The Campaign For Raw Milk, however, believes that drinking raw milk should be a consumer’s choice and wants regulations rather than an outright ban. There will be a public debate on the issue in Dublin’s Sugar Club on Tuesday 6th September, starting at 7.30pm sharp. Tickets €5 and all are welcome.

28 Comments

  1. Delightful! I love your cheese choices and this crust is fabulous…beautifully done :)

  2. Daily Spud

    Wednesday, August 24, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    Why thank you Magic of Spice, I’m looking forward to having pizza leftovers for dinner this evening :)

  3. The soda bread dough was a brilliant idea! Nice selection on the cheeses as well as the addition of leeks. Sounds like it’s full of flavor!

  4. Daily Spud

    Wednesday, August 24, 2011 at 6:24 pm

    It *is* full of flavour Faith, just the way I like it :) I love the soda bread crust too – so quick and easy to do.

  5. What a great idea! Holy yum :)

    Love Desmond cheese – I’ll have to look out for the others.

  6. Daily Spud

    Wednesday, August 24, 2011 at 9:26 pm

    Thanks Aine! And do look out for those cheeses – whether you’re making pizza or not, they’re well worth seeking out.

  7. This is an awesome makeover, I love it! I absolutely adore Irish Farmhouse cheeses and they are just perfect on this pizza in combination with potatoes and rutabaga. And the soda bread pizza dough is brilliant!

  8. Daily Spud

    Thursday, August 25, 2011 at 12:39 am

    I thought you might like it Natasha :) We really do have some fabulous cheeses – I’m happy to have them with or without pizza anytime!

  9. Yes to Farmhouse cheeses, on a pizza or on their own. And of course I love your signature Irish touch of potatoes and turnips on a soda bread crust :) which I most definitely want to try!

  10. A soda bread pizza base, what a really great idea. Must give that a go. Where did you get the Desmond cheese btw?

  11. Daily Spud

    Thursday, August 25, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    Priscilla: thanks, I’ll say yes to farmhouse cheeses any day and at any time :)

    Stef: do give the soda bread base a try; as for the Desmond cheese, you’ll sometimes get it in Sheridan’s

  12. Nice one. Will keep an eye out for it.

  13. What a smart way to put Irish touches on a pizza! I agree it is really hard to edit yourself when it comes to this sort of thing, but you totally pulled it off.

  14. You really did embrace the pizza and make it yours. I am going to try the soda bread dough asap… what a great idea. Love all the cheeses and the potato/rutabaga additions. ANother totally remarkable pizza from our stellar group!

  15. Hi Aoife – love your photos, definitely looks like a painting.
    Terrific twist on pizza from the crust to the potatoes, to the cheeses – a real winner. I would love to try this one. Great addition to the Cooking Club.
    LL

  16. Daily Spud

    Friday, August 26, 2011 at 11:04 am

    Stef: hope you manage to get some…

    Trix: aw thanks – I was really pleased with how this one turned out

    Deana: It’s quite the group, isn’t it? Looking forward to visiting the rest of the pizza posts this weekend.

    Lori Lynn: Thanks so much – hope you get to try it out sometime!

  17. Pizza with an Irish brogue! GREG

  18. Daily Spud

    Friday, August 26, 2011 at 9:59 pm

    That is is, Greg, that it is :)

  19. An Irish pizza! That’s a combo you don’t hear too often! Great job thinking outside of the box and executing your idea so well. I love the soda bread dough and all of those great cheeses!

  20. Daily Spud

    Saturday, August 27, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    You’re right Marisa, it’s not such a common combination – glad you liked it!

  21. Mouth is watering reading about this beautiful piece of pizza magic! Love the idea of soda bread crust, I get so impatient waiting for dough to rise and usually I decide what I want for dinner too late to make crust in time. MM’s eyes widened looking at this as well…maybe HE can make me the Soda Bread Pizza!!

  22. Daily Spud

    Monday, August 29, 2011 at 9:59 pm

    Hey Clare, definitely reckon that either you or MM should give the soda bread crust a go!

  23. Soda bread pizza is brilliant and wow those cheeses sound so good! I don’t know much about Irish but this looks damn good!

  24. Looks amazing, DS! I’ve never had a soda-raised pizza dough before–you really did cram as much Irish as you could into that thing! I love the thin potato shingles, especially:)

  25. Daily Spud

    Tuesday, August 30, 2011 at 11:33 pm

    Tanatha: thanks :) this is probably as good an introduction as any to a bit of Irish!

    Jenni: I sure did – come to think of it, I practically got the full set of Irish flag colours in there, what with the the leeks, spuds & turnip! And it goes without saying that I’m a sucker for any kind of pizza that comes topped with super thin potato slices :)

  26. i love all the cheeses in this… that’s what makes pizz, pizza! your inspiration makes that much more attractive. not the biggest of soda bread but all those cheese on it, who cares! wonderful homage to Swedish roots.

  27. This looks delicious and sounds like a great recipe for the upcoming St. Patricks Day! I was actually just thinking the other day about making soda bread for it!

  28. Based on the picture you’ve uploaded and everything I read here, it seems this will be the next pizza I will make :)

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