2008-05-14

Pizza Bianca


There's a restaurant relatively close to where I work. I've been there a couple of times and while their food is very good, it's the bread they bring to your table that's most memorable. I came across this recipe for Pizza Bianca and it's the closest I've found to it. Don't let the name fool you... it's really not "pizza" - at least not in my book. I mean, there's no sauce and no real toppings... just crust, olive oil, spices... and a whole lot of M'mmmm. I made this last week and it was devoured in record time.
I think I've mentioned before that making yeast breads is one thing I find very intimidating. So many steps and that gives me so many opportunities to screw it up! LOL. I mean, my water is either too hot (which kills the yeast) or too cold (which doesn't activate the yeaast) or I'm too impatient during the rise(s)... something. I'm trying to get over the intimidation factor and I really think the only way to do that is to **make** yeast breads. Over and over and over again until it's no longer intimidating and I gain enough experience to do it well :)

I was cruising the blogosphere a while back and came across this recipe on SmittenKitchen. It reminded me of the bread at that restaurant near work and I really wanted to give it a try. But it takes time... and patience. It involves yeast... and it involves more than one rise... but... undaunted... I was going to make it!! I gave it a whirl and was pleasantly surprised to find this wasn't as complicated as I thought - I just had to be patient and trust that if I followed the recipe, things *would* work out successfully. I did... and it did. And you should too :)


Pizza Bianca
adapted from SmittenKitchen's recipe for Jim Lahey's Pizza Bianca

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon instant dry yeast
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
garlic powder, rosemary, oregano, black pepper, salt... all to taste

Combine flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, sugar, and yeast in the bowl of an electric mixer, and slowly add 1 cup cold water. Mix on low speed until ingredients begin to combine, increase speed to medium-high, and continue to mix for about 10 minutes until the dough is smooth, elastic, and cleanly pulls away from the sides of the mixing bowl.

Lightly grease a large bowl with EVOO, place dough in bowl, cover with clean towel, set away from heat or drafts and allow to rise between 2 and 4 hours... or at least until the dough has doubled in size.

Separate the dough into two equal portions. Roll each into a log shape.

Place each log on a generously floured surface, and allow to rise until each has doubled in size (about 1 hour).

Using a floured rolling pin, roll out each log to about 1/4" - 1/2" thick. Use your fingers to create dimples. Transfer to a baking sheet either sprayed with olive oil or sprinkled with semolina (I did it both ways and was happy with the results of each).

Drizzle with olive oil and brush it around to evenly coat the surface of the dough. Sprinkle on the desired amount of garlic powder, rosemary, oregano, black pepper, salt... or hey, whatever seasonings strike your fancy :) I even made one of mine with minced garlic!

Place the baking sheet in the oven... and bake for about 10-12 minutes at about 520 degrees. If your oven doesn't go this high, use the broil setting. Either way, keep an eye on it.

Remove from oven... let rest for about 3 minutes... slice, enjoy and repeat :)