Saturday, September 20, 2008

Pizza Bianca Alla Romana


Lately dinner at our house has been like a scene out of Sergio Leone western, minus the guns and the Ennio Morricone soundtrack. Night after night our daughter stubbornly refuses to eat one or two items on her plate, which leads to a standoff between her and her equally stubborn parents. Last night she refused to eat a biscuit.

My wife and I don't cave easily. I'm usually the good cop, and my wife plays the role of bad cop with a flair and swagger that would make Robert De Niro jealous. We firmly draw a line in the sand, we never back down, and regardless of how cute, intelligent, and charming our four-year-old daughter might be, we refuse to negotiate. We play hardball, so it's a tough world for a Miss Picky Eater. I should add that we always win.

I'm sure I'm exaggerating a bit. Our daughter eats and enjoys most fruits and vegetables. She's stubborn and picky when it comes to meats or new recipes, which is a real problem in a household where I'm constantly trying new dishes. Some of her "pickiness" is downright perplexing:

Exhibit A:

She's even picky when it comes to pizza, a perennial kid's favorite. However, she prefers her pizza sans sauce and with cheese as the only topping. Then she usually polish off her nubs of crust with a bit of honey. This is the only way she'll eat pizza.

Now this isn't a major problem in my household. I always have pizza dough on hand, and pizzas are made to suit the tastes of each family member.

However, I'm not always satisfied making one type of pizza, so this summer I tried another type of pizza dough to experiment with a slightly different crust. My daughter wasn't a fan, but this recipe was a hit with me. I love how this crusty is crunch while possessing a springy, light texture. This would be a great complement to your next pasta dinner.

Now the dough is an extremely wet, and there will be moments in the process where you'll question if everything will ever come together. Have faith. Everything will work out, and you'll be rewarded with a wonderful bread.


Pizza Bianca Alla Romana

Ingredients:

Dough
  • 1 3/4 cups of water
  • 1 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 3 1/4 cups unbleached, bread flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

Topping
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh rosemary

Directions:
  1. Pour the water into the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the yeast, flour, and salt. Then stir to blend into a dough.
  2. With the dough hook, mix the dough on medium-high speed (8 on a KitchenAid Mixer) for 15 to 17 minutes. Since at this speed the mixer has a tendency to "shimmy" off the counter, be sure you supervise the mixer during this process. The dough won't clear the sides of the bowl and will gradually climb up the dough hook. Occasionally stop the mixer and scrape down the hook and the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. You'll gradually see strands of beautiful gluten start to appear.
  3. After the first 15-17 minutes, turn the mixer to high speed and knead until the dough comes together, clears the sides of the bowl, and collects around the hook. This should take 2-3 minutes. The dough will be glistening and very elastic. At this point check the dough and make sure the gluten is developed by pulling off a golf ball-sized piece. Stretch it. If it tears, knead for 1-2 minutes more and test again. You should be able to stretch the dough into an opaque windowpane that doesn't tear.
  4. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl and cover. At room temperature let the dough rise until it triples in volume. This should take 3 1/2 to 4 hours.
  5. Before baking, place a baking stone on the middle rack and heat the oven to 500 degrees.
  6. Coat your counter or pastry mat with flour. Uncover the dough and scrape it onto the counter. Lightly but thoroughly dust the top of the dough with flour. With a bench scraper, cut the dough into two equal pieces. Drape with plastic wrap and let them rest for 10 minutes.
  7. Now measure some parchment paper to fit the size of your baking stone. Spray the paper with cooking spray or lightly brush with oil. Place one of dough halves on the paper. Now gradually stretch your dough to fill the parchment paper. This takes a lot of patience and skill, two qualities I sometimes lack. I usually shape the dough by lightly stretching one corner of dough at a time. I stretch and stretch and stretch. This elastic dough will test your patience. Just take your time and take occasional, short breaks to let the dough rest. You'll gradually shape the dough.

8. Brush dough with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and rosemary.
9. Place the parchment and dough on a peel. Slide into the oven.
10. Bake for until 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.
11. Enjoy.

5 comments:

Steve O' said...

Mike: Who's winning the battle of the remote on college football game days?

My boys are oh-for-three... and Texas A&M is this weekend, so no rest for the worry.

Made this last weekend: it's almost an anti-recipe.

http://web.mac.com/saodell/iWeb/Army%20Sports/USMA%20%2787%20Fitness%20Challenge/9ADCC906-45F6-47B8-810D-8279FEDB767B.html

muddywaters said...

Steve:

There haven't been any Nebraska games televised yet, so there hasn't been a battle for the remote. We did purchase one pay-per-view game. Things will be tense when KU battles NU.

muddywaters said...

Steve,

I checked out the recipe. It sounds good. The ol' pork butt or Boston roast is one of my favorite cuts of meat to cook. It's so versatile. I love smoking it, but I also love to prepare carnitas.

shellie said...

Your daughter is funny. I have a little cousin like that, and I tend to be very particular with my food and how I eat it too!

I don't really like pizza, but man, that looks awesome. It has to better than the CiCi's pizza I had on today's field trip! Maybe the oven will get fixed and I can try it sometime.

M. E. Cullen said...

This recipe is fantastic! I didn't have much hope since I'm a college student stuck in a kitchen that leaves something to be desired, but the pizza turned out great. Thanks for your recipe!