Crunchy Bottoms

Striking the caloric balance. Barely.

Nutella Banana and Fleur de Sel Pizza

Nutella Banana and Fleur de Sel Pizza.

There are few things that irk me more when I’m rummaging through kitchen cabinets and the pantry than to find out that I am completely out of salt.

But not just any salt.

I’m talking sea salt, all kinds of sea salt in fact.

Flaky, coarse-grained, grey, fine, kosher….

There is, however, never a shortage of table salt in the kitchen. But I don’t care for that.

So you think salt’s just salt and what’s with all the fancy schmancy names? I mean, it’s no big deal right? Sure, salt’s important because without it, food’s going to taste like ribbons from the paper shredder, and oh, what with all the low-sodium products bursting forth in grocery stores, perhaps it’s best not to discuss potentially health damaging substances hm?

I apologise, but as you can see, I’m not really giving a damn.

I treat all my salt at home (and when I say ‘all’, I mean the total of 4 kinds of salt that I now have handy when I need them) more precious than any other gourmet ingredient – with the exception of my lone bottle of white truffle oil – because sodium chloride is king.

Have you ever forgotten to include that teaspoon of salt into your batch of cookies? Or perhaps intentionally left it out of your brownies for whatever demented reason? How’d that turn out?

Betcha didn’t really know why no one was helping themselves to seconds.

Effortlessly, salt has decimated and created whole empires, vastly influenced the outcomes of wars, single-handedly crippled armies, induced terrible taxes, granted power and wealth to any city or country which happened to stumble upon whole marshes of them, and was worth infinitely more than mere money itself. I’m not making this up. Just think: Food Preservation.

Fleur de Sel

But that’s not what I’m really gushing about today. I’m not a serial gusher. I do not gush often. Yet I’m gushing for the same reason some people gush about Sea Salt and Caramel.

Because we don’t celebrate the timeless union of Salt and Sugar enough.

Desserts will not be desserts without salt. Cakes, cookies, pastries, tarts, muffins, cobblers, crumbles, ice creams (FYI: Ben & Jerry’s ice creams are the perfect example of the marriage of Salt and Sugar. In fact, they’re a little more on the salty side than other brands. Pay a little more attention the next time you have a scoop. Or a tub. You’ll be surprised)…

I can’t quite remember how it started for me, but from the moment I thought to sprinkle a pinch of Fleur de Sel (flur-duh-sell. Flower of salt.) atop a well-toasted, Nutella slice of bread, I have never once looked back.

Of all my salts, my most treasured is Fleur de Sel from my most recent trip to Europe.

I told my mom: “Buy as many chocolates, candies, baguettes, pain au levains, croissant au buerres you want, but I’m not leaving Paris without my salt. I will cry if we leave without my salt.”

We left without my salt.

Ok so I didn’t cry, but you should’ve seen how devastated I was that we only had a grand total of 1 day in France and that there wasn’t enough time to even hunt down an open market, let alone my Fleur de Sel de Guérande from Brittany.

Fleur de Sel

Out of desperation, I bought a jar from Switzerland. It’s not Fleur de sel de Guérande. I don’t know where it’s from or if it is genuinely Fleur de Sel (because it’s common for manufacturers to use the Fleur de Sel name to market their mechanically harvested sea salt, since real Fleur de Sel is delicately hand-harvested by scraping off the layer of salt floating atop salt marshes), but all I know is that thankfully, it tastes absolutely nothing like table salt, with the only similarity being that, well, it’s salty. I can only imagine the flavour of Fleur de Sel de Guérande, and I still find it such a shame I didn’t hunt it down.

You’re not going to go back to using ordinary table salt ever again because you’ll now find that it tastes horribly acrid and bitter, starkly paling in comparison to the less aggressive and delicate flavour of Fleur de Sel. It’s irregular sized grains make for the loveliest crunch and contrast when sprinkled atop dishes, salads, desserts as a finishing touch. It is never used in cooking because it melts and loses its charm that way.

I now add a dash of it onto anything sweet. It’s addictive.

It’ll make your taste buds launch into Carmen Fantasie at the sheer complexity and harmony of it all.

Gourmet salt? Chichi salt? Call it what you like.

Meanwhile, I hereby present to you Dessert Pizza No. 2.

Nutella, Banana and Fleur de Sel Pizza

This is a classic combination with an added kick. A very, very awesome added kick. But of course a certain restraint should be exercised short of turning dessert into a disaster. Less is more, scatter it about randomly and don’t worry about distributing it evenly. You know, give a little, and hold it back. Trust me when I say that having salt in every bite will lose its novelty and earn you weird faces. If you don’t have Fleur de Sel, regular sea salt in irregular/coarse crystals will do. God forbid that you use table salt.

Do not, I repeat, do not buy Fleur de Sel in Singapore, from gourmet supermarkets or where ever. It’s far too expensive when those of better quality are available online or for much a better value and price when you do make a hallowed trip to France (darn how I didn’t get it!).

Also, give me a little bit longer to settle the recipe for a basic, thin-crust pizza dough. I’m not sharing something I’m not satisfied with. Till then – as much as it kills me to say this – you can use a frozen pizza dough base, or play around with pizza base recipes.

Makes one 12 inch pizza

Ingredients:

  • 1 12-inch pizza dough base (thawed, if using frozen)
  • 2 ripe bananas, thickly sliced into 1cm slices
  • Handful of sliced almonds, toasted golden brown
  • 180g Nutella (or more, if you so wish)
  • 1/2 tsp icing sugar (optional)
  • 1 tsp Fleur de Sel (or any flaky sea salt)

Direction:

1. Using the grill function of your oven, bake the pizza base at 250C for 8-10 minutes till slightly charred with the rack set in the middle of the oven.

2. Spread the Nutella over the base and lay the banana slices over.

3. From a height, scatter the toasted almond slices, leaving the salt as a garnish.

4. If there is leftover Nutella, dot it all over the top of the pizza in little lumps. Add a light dusting of icing sugar if you wish, cut up the pizza and serve.

Note: Certain ovens may not have a grill function, so normal convection will do. Also, the baking times may differ due to discrepancies in oven temperatures so keep an eye on the base just in case. The key is to get the base as crisp as possible without burning.

9 responses to “Nutella Banana and Fleur de Sel Pizza

  1. Aaron Shui September 28, 2010 at 8:09 pm

    Interesting how you mentioned that salt has “decimated and created whole empires”. The other day I was a watching nat geo programme on bread. Traditional Tuscany bread is made without salt. Because back then when they were at war with (some other state), and they were not near the sea, so salt was not traded. Then some how Tuscans managed to make bread without salt.
    (hope I got my info right. :D)

    • Christine Leow September 28, 2010 at 10:10 pm

      Oh, didn’t know that about Tuscany bread. Haha. Bread without salt is weird, I’ve made that mistake before, making bread without salt. It’s not just about the taste, but salt actually helps in controlling the rate of fermentation in bread and hence strengthens gluten and hence makes a better outcome. Ok I think that’s kinda confusing huh. Yea salt trade was huge in the past, I think we read that somewhere in a textbook in primary or maybe secondary school. Haha. But really, if you’ve never tried sweet and salty before (or at least noticed it), you have to. Try Azabu Sabo’s Caramel and Sea Salt ice cream flavour sometime!

      • Aaron Shui September 29, 2010 at 10:01 pm

        Not confusing at all. A Korean drama is educating me about bread. So I understand what you are saying.
        While reading through this I thought of the caramel and sea salt ice cream! When my older sis offered it to me for the first time, I was gave her a WTF face. But she forced it down anyay, and wowow LOVE IT! hehe

      • Christine Leow September 30, 2010 at 1:45 pm

        Lol. Which older sis? Haha. Yea it’s great, it’s my favourite beside cookies and cream from Azabu Sabo. Some Korean drama is educating you about bread??? What drama is that? But yea, bread making is simple if you understand the functions of the ingredients that goes into it. =)

  2. stargirl September 28, 2010 at 8:23 pm

    okay i must try a nutella-and-salt combination sometime!

  3. Vincox September 29, 2010 at 8:33 pm

    Call me a noob. I’ve never seen this pizza or heard of it before! My knowledge of food is really limited. I only want to eat, eat and eat! Haha!

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