Jim Lahey’s new cookbook, My Bread: the Revolutionary No-Work, No-Knead Method, arrived on my doorstep last week and I eagerly started reading & baking. Lahey popularized no-knead yeast bread baked inside a cast-iron pot, but he’s also widely reputed to bake the best pizza bianca in the U.S. (with two dust-jacket blurbs attesting to its excellence).
Immediately after skimming the pizza bianca recipe, I was prepared to hate the book, and I lost all faith in dust-jacket quotes forever. Why? Because two listed ingredients (sugar & table salt) are completely missing from the instructions, leading me to wonder about the book’s general accuracy. Is it really so hard to proofread a two-page bread recipe? Sigh. Adding to my malaise, the book turned out to be pretty skimpy, content-wise.
Soldiering on, I decided to add the salt & sugar along with the flour & yeast, and followed the rest of the recipe as written. I hit a few more bumps along the way: the dough’s volume was too great for the size of my pizza stone (though my stone was larger than the one specified in the book), meaning that I couldn’t stretch it to the proper thickness. As a result, it inflated wildly in the middle, causing olive oil to run off the sides. [Next time I make it, I'll divide the dough into two before stretching and baking.]
Despite these inauspicious moments, the pizza bianca was delicious. It isn’t perfect, but it is easily the closest to true p.b. I’ve ever baked. The crust was crisp, but not hard, and the porous crumb struck a balance between chewy and tender. I can’t wait to try this dough as a pizza rossa…
I used my shiny, new Forschner/Victorinox 10″ bread knife to cut up the pizza bianca. It cost all of $30 at my favorite restaurant supply house, compared to the $90 Forschner sold by Sur La Table or Williams-Sonoma. Yes, my version has a molded resin handle, but it will last far longer than the “nicer” handles on the more expensive knives.