Thursday, June 13, 2013

Jalapeno Pizza Bianca

I don't even know how to describe pizza bianca. You could say it's like a perfect Neapolitan pizza crust, minus the blistering, cheese, and sauce. You could say it's like focaccia after you drizzle olive oil over the little craters you poked into the dough. But it is thinner, lighter throughout and crispier outside than focaccia. Also unlike focaccia, it's baked freeform on a pizza stone. You could also say that it's going to be amazing sandwich bread, but truthfully, it probably will never make it that far.

This is really easy dough to make. There are just two things to remember, things that turn your dough into pizza bianca, not just any old flatbread. If you have a pizza stone, here's where you use it. The crust will be perfectly crispy. That brings me to the next point: try to go light on surface flour. Excessive flour will turn the bottom of the pie chalky, or even burn it. Serious Eats suggests that you let the dough rise on a sheet of parchment paper, pop the whole thing into the oven, then slide the pizza directly onto the stone after a couple of minutes of baking. You can get away with using less flour if you go that route. But if you're brave, just go naked. In the best version of pizza bianca that I've made, the final rise took place on parchment. I slipped the dough onto the pizza stone using a peel sprinkled with as little flour as I could bear.

This dough is almost guaranteed to form a great hole-filled crumb because it's no-knead. You stir it together in a bowl, then leave the thing alone for a night. The high-moisture dough ensures a great hole structure. You don't need to stress about shaping it perfectly, because its charm lies in its rustic sprawl. Poke it with your fingertips, drizzle with oil, sprinkle with salt, and'll be thrilled.

Jalapeno Pizza Bianca
by Julie

makes approximately two 14" breads

400 grams bread flour
300 grams room-temperature water (about 1 1/3 cups)
5 grams instant yeast
8 grams kosher salt
3-4 tablespoons Sciabica's Jalapeno Extra Virgin Olive Oil for drizzling (or another high quality delicious olive oil)
Coarse salt for sprinkling

In a large bowl, mix all of the ingredients together until they form a cohesive, well-formed ball. Wrap it tightly with plastic wrap and leave it on the counter overnight.

The next move will take place two hours before you plan to bake. Divide the dough into two halves (you could do one big one, but two are easier to manage). Place each half onto a floured sheet of parchment paper. Don't worry too much about shape; you're just going to let it spread out and rise. Cover with oiled plastic wrap or a towel and let it hang out for an hour or so. When it's rising nicely and looking puffy, preheat your oven as high as it goes, with a pizza stone or overturned baking sheet on the top rack.

Immediately before you want to bake, you'll use your fingers to poke into the surface of the pizza. If they're even, it will look more attractive, but don't go too crazy. Drizzle the olive oil on top and scatter a few pinches of sea salt across the surface.

Preheat oven as high as yours can go. 500°F minimum, 550°F if you've got it. Slide the pizza, parchment and all, onto the baking surface. Let it bake for about 3-5 minutes. Next, carefully slide out the pizza-parchment. Peel the pizza off the paper and put it back on the stone. Let it bake for another 5-10 minutes, or until golden brown.

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