Must have pizza now…

After a couple of weeks indulging in Italy’s fabulous, abundant, and inexpensive pizzas, it’s hard to re-adjust to the bad American stuff.  US pizza is overloaded, over-sweetened (crust & sauce), and generally too greasy.  A takeout pie from the Dough Bowl last week didn’t really help my pizza craving, and I didn’t have room in my schedule to head downtown for Alon Shaya’s Neapolitan-style pies at Domenica. So I turned to Jim Lahey (sorry to be stuck in a dough rut, my non-baking blog readers).  Since his pizza bianca recipe (the Roman flatbread, not just a tomato-less pizza) is the best I’ve tried, I had high hopes for his pizza….and my hopes were rewarded!  The no-knead crust, which rises for just 2 hours, bakes on an oiled pan to a thin, crisp texture.  Topped with a simple tomato sauce, it’s pretty much perfect….not Neapolitan-wood-oven-perfect, but closer to the thinner versions of pizza al taglio (pizza sold by the slice) found in Roman bakeries.

Lahey’s no-knead pizza dough, with simple tomato sauce

  • 500 g bread flour (3-3/4 cups)
  • 10 g instant yeast (2-1/2 tsp)
  • 5 g table salt (3/4 tsp)
  • 3 g sugar (3/4 tsp)
  • 300 g room-temperature water (1-1/3 cups)
  • olive oil, for oiling sheet pans
  • 1-14 oz can diced tomatoes, drained then pureed
  • 1 clove garlic, sliced paper thin
  • red pepper flakes, to taste

In a large bowl, stir together flour, yeast, salt, and sugar.  Pour in the water, stirring to make a rough dough.  Stir for an additional 30 seconds, adding a small amount (1-3 teaspoons) of additional water, if needed, to hydrate all of the flour.  Cover the bowl and rest at room temperature for 2 hours or until the dough has more than doubled.  Oil two 13×18 inch sheet pans.  Scrape half of the dough (in one piece) out onto an oiled pan.  Preheat oven to 500 degrees and place oven rack/shelf at the center position.  Gently press and stretch the dough to fill the pan.  If the dough resists, wait 5 minutes for the gluten to relax, then continue to stretch.  Repeat for the remaining dough and second oiled pan.  Top the stretched dough lightly and evenly with tomato puree; don’t allow the sauce to pool at the center.   Sprinkle garlic slices atop each pizza, then sprinkle with red pepper flakes to taste.  Bake one pizza at a time, 25-30 minutes, until the edges begin to char and the pizza pulls away from the sides of the pan.

Check out lots of flatbread recipes at YeastSpotting, over at the Wild Yeast blog.

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