14 Jul 2012

Pizza Bianca

I'm always looking for that extra special pizza recipe and now I've found it. I've tried numerous recipes, had struggles rolling out pizza dough, I have cooked my base on a pizza stone/pizza tin/baking tin for that ultimate crisp base. I have had pizza bases that refuse to cook because they are loaded with toppings ......and more problems besides those already mentioned, such as crispy edges that you can't even get a knife through! Until now I've thought it a complete waste of time that I have a pizza stone, I've tried throwing my pizza onto the stone but somehow my pizza stone seems to have lost the point, anyway how do you transfer rolled out dough onto a hot pizza stone, it defeats me!  With this recipe you don't put the mix directly on the stone but you heat the stone up for an hour and then put your baking tray on top of the pizza stone.

I've got a new past time, brought on by hurting my back playing football with small children, I'm now watching America's Test Kitchen on PBS, I record every episode and then have the task of finding time to watch them. The presenters do seem to use a lot of salt though, they are either brining something with it, smothering something with it, putting it inside something, wiping it off or throwing it in a pot!  I'm just not sure about all that salt.....

My finished Pizza Bianca waiting for me to cut a slice!

Back to the pizza, it's the best pizza I have ever eaten. If you search for Pizza Bianca you will see lots of discussions regarding this recipe on food bloggers websites in America - it's that good. They have also given adapted recipes for the base and toppings. The recipe was apparently first printed in Cook's Illustrated and is now on America's Test Kitchen website, the problem is you need to pay to access their recipes.

This is the first stage and I added plain flour (not strong flour), salt and water to the bowl and mixed with the dough hook on low for 3 minutes.  Next stage is to add the easy blend yeast and sugar to the above mixture, now mix on low for a couple of minutes.  With the dough hook still attached to the machine mix until smooth and glossy for approximately 10 minutes.  The yeast batter should be coming away from the sides of the bowl.

Oil a bowl with a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil, also oil a spatula, now pour the batter mix from your mixer into the oiled bowl.  Turn the yeast batter mix over to coat the batter in extra virgin olive oil. 

Cover with cling wrap and leave at room temperature for 2 hours until it has tripled in volume.  Preheat your oven to 450 degrees, set your shelf on the middle rung, put a pizza stone on to heat up and if possible heat the stone for an hour.

Take a sturdy baking tray and pour over 2 tablespoons of extra olive oil and with your hands spread it out over the tray.  Turn the dough into the pan and spread over the pan with your fingertips. Leave to rest for 5 minutes and now with your fingertips spread the dough out into the corners of the pan.  Leave the tray uncovered for 10 minutes until the dough is bubbly.  Dock the dough with a fork 40 times to prevent it rising too much.  Cook until brown about 15 minutes.

The topping is made from drained tinned chopped and smashed tomatoes, olive oil, salt and grated mozzarella cheese.  The pizza is then cooked for 10 minutes more until the cheese browns.

What's different about this recipe?  Firstly, there is a huge amount of water mixed into the flour, and a mixer with a dough hook is required otherwise I'm not sure this recipe is achievable.  Secondly, it is best described as a batter, you definitely can't roll this out!  The finished result is crisp, light, airy and chewy, the base can also be used as a flat bread instead of a pizza base.

You will need a good baking tray that withstands high temperatures and one that you know won't warp, mine was non-stick and gave an excellent result.  Also, a good pair of oven gloves because that tray gets very, very hot!