- Approximately 48-oz of pizza dough (for four 12-inch pizzas), at room temperature
- salt and ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 large yellow onions, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch slices
- 1–2 tsp crushed red pepper
- 3/4 cup apple butter, good quality prepared or homemade
- 16 oz sharp white cheddar cheese, grated
- 20-ounces ham, diced (approximately 4 cups)
- 4 tsp chopped fresh thyme
- Approximately 6 cups fresh arugula
- Caramelize the onions: Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a skillet set over medium heat. Add the sliced onions, sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper (about 1/2 tsp of each), and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are a deep golden brown, approximately 15 minutes. Scoop the onions onto a plate and let cool to room temperature.
- Place a baking stone on a rack set in the center of your oven and preheat the oven to 500 degrees. (See note at the bottom of this recipe.)
- Use your fingers to press and stretch a 12 ounce portion of dough into a 12-inch circle and lay the dough on a parchment paper covered pizza peel. (See note at the bottom of this recipe.)
- Brush the crust with a bit of olive oil, coating the entire surface with a thin layer. Sprinkle with a pinch of crushed red pepper and a few shakes of ground black pepper.
- Spread about 3 tbsp apple butter over the crust, leaving about 1-inch of dough around the circumference of the pizza.
- Sprinkle about 1/4 of the caramelized onions over the apple butter, then sprinkle 1/4 of the grated cheese over the onions, followed by 1/4 of the diced ham.
- Slide the pizza into the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes, until the crust is golden and the cheese is bubbly and just begging to brown in a few places.
- Remove the pizza from the oven and sprinkle with 1 tsp of fresh thyme. Top with 2 cups of arugula, slice and serve.
- Repeat with remaining dough and pizza toppings.
Bake pizza in a very hot oven – 500 degrees – and on a pizza stone if you have one. I’ve had my pizza stone for at least 20 years and use it all the time. It produces deliciously crisp crust, but if you don’t have one, not to worry. You can still get good results by using an overturned and preheated rimmed baking sheet, set on the lowest oven rack. If you are using a baking stone, I’d suggest preheating the oven for at least 30 minutes before baking your pizzas.
If this is your first time working with homemade pizza dough, I found this excellent tutorial about using your hands to stretch pizza dough. I generally stretch and pat my pizza dough into shape on a lightly floured work surface, and then place it on a sheet of parchment that’s laid over a pizza peel before adding toppings. Having parchment under the dough makes it really easy to slide the pizza, parchment and all, in and out of the oven. If you don’t have a pizza peel, an open sided cookie sheet works well too.