Getting closer to good pizza bianca

P9190744Jim 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).

I’m always pining for real, Roman pizza bianca, yet never quite reaching the correct texture, taste, crust in my many attempts–so my anticipation was at full boil.

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.]

P9190747Despite 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.

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6 thoughts on “Getting closer to good pizza bianca

  1. Pingback: New food books worth investigating « Bouillie

  2. Pingback: No-knead flaxseed & whole wheat bread « Bouillie

  3. Hello again,

    So in reading the psot above, my question is what is the final recipe and how much salt and sugar did you add ?

    Please share.

    Have a great weekend !

    Anthony

    • It’s Mardi Gras, so I’ll definitely have a great (extended) weekend. Here’s the PB recipe from Lahey’s book:
      400 g bread flour, plus addt’l for dusting
      1 gram instant yeast
      4 g table salt
      4 g sugar
      350 g water
      60 g olive oil, plus addt’l for coating bowl & brushing atop the PB
      4 g coarse sea salt, for sprinkling
      3 sprigs rosemary, just leaves
      Mix flour, yeast, salt, & sugar in a medium bowl; add water & mix until combined, about 30 secs. Oil a second, larger bowl or dough rising bucket; put the mixed dough into it. Cover and ferment at room temp for 9-12 hrs or until dough is bubbly & more than doubled in size. Remove dough in one piece onto a well-floured surface (like a big cutting board). Stretch & fold it two or three times, then shape into a loose, flattish round. Brush surface w/olive oil & sprinkle w/the coarse salt. Put dough into a draft-free spot & rise an additional 1-2 hours. Transfer gently to a well-floured peel, and stretch & dimple the dough; spread remaining olive oil and rosemary atop the dough. Bake in a preheated 500-degree oven atop a baking stone for 12-15 minutes.

      I’m seriously condensing Lahey’s instructions for dimpling & stretching; his excellent book provides good photos & detailed descriptions on p 136-139. It’s worth a look for anyone chasing PB.

    • 350 grams water, or about 1 and 1/2 cups. I’ve corrected the recipe abpve, as it had no water and the wrong amount of olive oil.

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