Monday, December 12, 2011

pizza bianca REVISITED!!!

Don't even think this is some boring white pizza, because it's not! It's chewy, crunchy, airy and studded with flakes of sea salt and fresh rosemary then drizzled with the most flavorful olive oil. In Rome, pizza bianca is eaten in the morning, the way we Americans eat buttered toast. But after you taste this deliciously flavored flat bread, you'll want to eat it all day long just like the Romans do. So forget those average loaves of french bread or baguettes from your local store or bakery and make this recipe now!!! Why now? Because if you plan on eating it, you'll need 11 - 14 hours for this dough to proof before you can even consider baking it.

I've blogged about this bread genius here, Jim Lahey of Sullivan Street Bakery in New York City. Jim is truly a bread whisperer. He takes very little ingredients, barely mixes or even touches them and after many hours of "resting" your dough, your kitchen will smell like an Italian pane da forno.

Pizza Bianca
from the book My Bread by Jim Lahey of Sullivan Street Bakery

YIELD: One 14 - inch pie; 6 -8 slices
EQUIPMENT: A large (at least 14 - inch diameter) pizza stone and a pizza peel

3 cups (400 grams) bread flour, plus more for dusting
1/4 teaspoon instant or other active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon table salt
3/4 teaspoon sugar
1 1/2 cups (350 grams) cool water (55 to 65 degrees F - pretty much straight out of the tap)
1/4 cup (60 grams) extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon course sea salt ***Maldon Salt is best here***
3 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves removed

1. In a medium bowl, stir together flour and yeast. Add table salt and sugar. Add the water and using a wooden spoon, your hand or a spatula, mix until you have a wet, sticky dough, no more than 30 seconds. ***I prefer using my hands.*** Also make sure that ALL of the flour seems hydrated. Dough should look shaggy and wet.*** With your spatula, clean sides of bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature ( I keep mine in the oven - which is turned OFF), until the surface is dotted with bubbles and the dough is more than doubled in size, 9 - 12 hours. 

2. When the first rise is complete, generously dust a work surface (a cutting board is useful here) with flour. Coat a rimmed cookie sheet with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. 

Generously dust top of sticky dough. Use a bowl scrapper or rubber spatula to scrape the dough out of the bowl in one piece onto your floured cutting board.

With floured hands, fold the dough over itself two or three times, flip it over, nudge it into a loose rather flat ball, and gingerly lift it onto your greased cookie sheet.

Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with course salt (which will gradually dissolve on the surface). 

Cover the dough with plastic wrap. Put the dough in a warm, draft-free spot and let rise until doubled, 1 to 2 hours. ***I prefer to let mine rest for 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 a pizza stone at least 14 inches in diameter, on the center rack. If you don;t have a pizza stone, it really isn't necessary, I just think the stone adds heat to your pan.

Spread out the fingers of one hand, like a claw, and gently press your fingers into the dough, but not to puncture it (short nails are essential): you want to simultaneously create dimples in the dough and spread it across the your baking sheet. Continue working your hand across the dough and dimpling it until it's bumpy all over and pretty much the size of your pan. 

Drizzle the remaining olive oil over the top and sprinkle with the rosemary leaves. Poke the rosemary leaves into the dough. This will help the rosemary from burning. ***We like ours super salty so we sprinkle even MORE Maldon salt on top before baking***

5. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the crust is golden brown on the mounds but still pale in the dimples. 

6. Transfer it to a rack to cool for at least a few minutes before cutting with scissors.

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