Yet another attempt at good-tasting pizza bianca alla romana, with mixed results. I followed Dan Leader’s recipe, which calls for 1 3/4 cups water, 1 tsp instant yeast, 3 1/4 cups high-gluten bread flour, and 1 1/2 tsp sea salt.
Combine all in a stand mixer bowl; mix on low using a dough hook until combined. Then turn the mixer to 8 (yes, I said speed 8) and mix for 15-17 minutes. Don’t leave it unattended; the mixer will bounce around. The dough is soupy at first, but as the gluten develops, it takes on a satiny, glossy luster.
After 15 minutes, stop the mixer and pinch a bit off–it should stretch readily without tearning and make a very thin, broad windowpane. At this point, it won’t look like a typical bread dough–it is almost liquid, with the consistency of rubbery batter.
Scrape the dough into a large container; allow it to rise for 3-4 hours, until it has quadrupled in size. It will be very puffy and full of air holes, but still as sticky and wet as before. You can’t use the finger-poke test to see if it is fully risen, as it will just stick to your finger.
Scrape it out of the rising container onto a floured counter and divide into two. Rest for 10 minutes, then plop one dough blob onto a floured baker’s peel. Stretch the dough from the center toward opposite ends, then dimple the upper side deeply, using your floured knuckles to press out the dough as you make indentions.
For pizza bianca, top with a generous drizzling of good olive oil; for pizza rossa, spread the dimpled dough with a puree of whole peeled tomatoes. Preheat the oven & a baking stone to 500 degrees; slide the shaped, topped bread onto the hot stone and bake for 15-20 minutes.
Verdict: I’m still not quite there yet. The baked pizza bianca puffed up tremendously, ruining the crust-to-crumb ratio that defines good P.B. The rossa was a little more successful, as the tomato puree weighs down the bread, preventing much oven spring. Tastewise, the crust was crisp & shattering, but I thought both breads were a little too chewy to pass for the real Roman deal. Next time, I’ll try all-purpose flour. Variation three will use King Arthur’s italian 00 flour clone.