Folks, it’s true. I am the last food blogger on Earth who has not made Jim Lahey’s No-Knead Bread. Okay, well maybe not the last, but I am one of the last.
I’m intrigued by it though and having tasted it (my lovely neighbor Julie is a convert), I can tell you that all the fuss is well-deserved. I bought the cookbook, I have the right size pot, now I just need to bake it. (I don’t think I will write about it though – haven’t we all read enough about no-knead bread?).
I decided to make another of Lahey’s much-praised recipes for my first foray into his world. Pizza Bianca is one of those things where you look at the list of ingredients and think – that’s it? Or at least I do. But then I remember that my very favorite part of any pizza, even bad pizza, is the crust. So why not just one giant crust?
To be fair, this is meant to be more of a flatbread than a crust. I imagine Lahey’s vision is somewhere between a foccacia and a pizza crust. I think what I made is a little closer to a foccacia and I didn’t quite get the dimpling technique right, but it was still really delicious. I cook and bake a lot but I have to say that pizza dough is not my specialty. I know that I just need to make it more regularly to get a better feel for the dough. (Did you hear that? That is Randy cheering in the background.) I am excited to try more of his pizza recipes in addition to that famous bread.
3 cups (400 grams) bread flour
¼ tsp. (1 gram) instant or other active yeast
½ tsp. (4 grams) table salt
¾ tsp. (4 grams) sugar
1½ cups (350 grams) cool (55 to 65°F) water
¼ cup (60 grams) extra virgin olive oil, plus additional for coating the bowl and brushing
½ tsp. (4 grams) coarse sea salt
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
1. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, yeast, table salt, and sugar. Add the water and, using a wooden spoon or your hand, mix until you have a wet, stick dough, about 30 seconds. Lightly coat a second medium bowl with olive oil and place the dough in it. Cover the bowl and let sit at room temperature, until the surface is dotted with bubbles and the dough is more than doubled in size, 9 to 12 hours.
2. When the first rise is complete, generously dust a work surface (a cutting board is useful here) with flour. Use a bowl scraper or rubber spatula to scrape the dough out of the bowl in one piece; as you begin to pull it away from the bowl, it will cling in long thin strands and will be quite loose and sticky. Using lightly floured hands, fold the dough over itself two or three times and nudge it into a loose, rather flat ball. Brush the surface of the dough with olive oil as sprinkle with the coarse salt (which will gradually dissolve on the surface). Put the dough in a warm, draft-free spot and let rise until doubled, 1 to 2 hours.
3. Half an hour before the end of the second rise, preheat the oven to 500°F, with a rack in the center, and place a pizza stone, at least 14 inches in diameter, in the center of the rack.
4. Generously dust a pizza peel with flour and place the ball of dough in the middle. Spread out the fingers of one hand, like a claw, and drive your fingers into the dough but do not puncture it. You want to simultaneously create dimples in the dough and spread it out across the peel. Continue working your hand across the dough and dimpling it until you have a bumpy disk about 12 inches in diameter. Drizzle the remaining olive oil over the top and sprinkle with the rosemary leaves.
5. With the peel resting on the counter, grasp the handle and give it a quick little tug; you want the pizza to just barely move but stay on the peel. (Loosening it makes it easier to slide it onto the baking stone.) If the dough sticks to the peel, gently lift it around the edges and add flour to the peel. Shake the pizza onto the baking stone. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until the crust is golden brown on the mounds but still pale in the dimples.
6. Slide the peel under the pizza and transfer it to a rack to cool for at least a few minutes before slicing and serving.