Every time I open the refrigerator, my sourdough starter beckons, calling out “make bread!” I answered its call this week with a pizza alle patate di Genzano. Dan Leader’s Local Breads chronicles the bread & bakers of Genzano, near Rome, where this thick pizza topped with potatoes (p. 201) is sold alongside the better-known pane casareccio, a bread distinguished with IGP status. The tender, focaccia-like pizza dough is made with both sourdough and commercial yeast, yielding a full-flavored, bubbly dough beneath a paving of potatoes, rosemary, and sea salt.
- 2 T sourdough starter (28 g)
- 2/3 cup water (140 g)
- 1-2/3 unbleached bread flour (high gluten, if possible, 200 g)
Pour the water over the sourdough starter in the bowl of a stand mixer; stir to soften & break up the starter. Stir in flour, mixing to hydrate all of the flour. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap; ferment at room temperature for 8 to 12 hours, until bubbly.
Dough & toppings
- all of the biga naturale (from above)
- 1-3/4 cups water (400 g)
- 3-1/4 cups unbleached bread flour (500 g)
- 3/4 tsp instant yeast (4 g)
- 2 tsp sea salt (15 g)
- 2 T extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 potatoes, peeled & sliced paper thin on a mandoline (900 g)
- 1/2 cup onion, sliced 1/4 inch thick (125 g)
- 1/4 cup fresh rosemary, finely chopped (12 g)
- 1/2 tsp sea salt (4 g)
- half-sheet baking pan (approximately 13 by 17 inches), lightly coated with olive oil
Uncover the fermented biga; pour the water over it, stirring to break up the biga. Blend in the flour, yeast, and salt to form a wet, shaggy dough. Using a dough hook, knead the mixture on medium high (#8) speed for 10 minutes, stopping the mixer and scraping the bowl if necessary. Raise the mixer speed to high (#10) and mix for an additional 10 minutes. The dough will begin to look satiny and pull away from the sides of the bowl; continue to knead at high speed until it passes the windowpane test.
Scrape the kneaded dough into a lightly oiled container. Cover; allow to rise at room temperature until doubled, about 1-1/2 hours. Gently deflate dough, pulling the sides toward the middle; recover and ferment for an additional 1-1/2 hours. Preheat oven & baking stone to 500 degrees at least 30 minutes before baking. Scrape the risen dough onto an oiled baking sheet, stretching it gently to fill the pan (if it resists, wait 10 minutes before re-stretching). Brush the dough with olive oil, then layer the sliced potatoes atop the dough sheet, overlapping the slices. Sprinkle with rosemary and sea salt.
Serve warm, cold, or reheated; keep at room temperature for up to 2 days. I stored some in the freezer; I’m not sure how the potato topping will fare upon defrosting. Guess I’ll find out in a few weeks…
For a gorgeous roundup of holiday breads from all over the Web, visit Wild Yeast.