Pizza Bianca with Tomatoes and Mozzarella

My wife and I are big fans of all kinds of pizza, so we were looking for a good homemade recipe.    This recipe I tried out a couple weeks ago and has quickly become my go-to recipe for homemade pizza on a Sunday.      The style is a roman version that is very wet and coated with olive oil.   When baked, it becomes fluffy like a foccacia and has a crisp crust.     I enjoyed making it because it was very easy to pour out in a pan + doesn’t require a pizza peel.     A couple requirements:  you need a stand mixer (Kitchenaid preferred) , pizza stone, and a baking sheet.     For preparation time, I usually start this about 3-4 hrs before serving.    I’ve been making the variation with homemade pizza sauce and mozzarella which I will include below.    Yes, it’s another America’s Test Kitchen recipe.    I’ve developed a bit of a crutch to them so I will have to try out a new recipe from a new source this weekend.

Serve the pizza by itself as a snack or with soup or salad for a light meal. Once the dough has been placed in the oiled bowl, it can be transferred to the refrigerator and kept for up to 24 hours. Bring the dough to room temperature, 2 to 2 1/2 hours, before proceeding with step 4. When kneading the dough on high speed, the mixer tends to wobble and move on the counter. Place a towel or shelf liner under the mixer and watch it at all times during mixing. Handle the dough with slightly oiled hands. Resist flouring your fingers or the dough might stick. This recipe was developed using an 18- by 13-inch baking sheet. Smaller baking sheets can be used, but because the pizza will be thicker, baking times will be longer. If not using a pizza stone, increase the oven temperature to 500 degrees and set the rack to the lowest position; the cooking time might increase by 3 to 5 minutes and the exterior won’t be as crisp.

Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (15 ounces) 
1 2/3 cups water (13 1/2 ounces), room temperature 
1 1/4 teaspoons table salt  
1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast  
1 1/4 teaspoons sugar  
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil  
1 teaspoon kosher salt   <- removed if using variation see below.
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary (whole leaves)    <- removed if using variation

Directions
1. Place towel or shelf liner beneath stand mixer to prevent wobbling. Mix flour, water, and table salt in bowl of stand mixer fitted with dough hook on low speed until no patches of dry flour remain, 3 to 4 minutes, occasionally scraping sides and bottom of bowl. Turn off mixer and let dough rest 20 minutes.

2. Sprinkle yeast and sugar over dough. Knead on low speed until fully combined, 1 to 2 minutes, occasionally scraping sides and bottom of bowl. Increase mixer speed to high and knead until dough is glossy, smooth, and pulls away from sides of bowl, 6 to 10 minutes. (Dough will only pull away from sides while mixer is on. When mixer is off, dough will fall back to sides.)    Note: on my Kitchenaid, it was only like setting 6 or 7 – it was going really fast.     It didn’t turn it up all the way.

3. Using fingers, coat large bowl with 1 tablespoon oil, rubbing excess oil from fingers onto blade of rubber spatula. Using oiled spatula, transfer dough to bowl and pour 1 tablespoon oil over top. Flip dough over once so it is well coated with oil; cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let dough rise at room temperature until nearly tripled in volume and large bubbles have formed, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.   Note: I left it out for 3 hrs.   

4. One hour before baking pizza, adjust oven rack to middle position, place pizza stone on rack, and heat oven to 450 degrees.

5. Coat rimmed baking sheet with 2 tablespoons oil. Using rubber spatula, turn dough out onto baking sheet along with any oil in bowl. Using fingertips, press dough out toward edges of pan, taking care not to tear it. (Dough will not fit snugly into corners. If dough resists stretching, let it relax for 5 to 10 minutes before trying to stretch again.) Let dough rest in pan until slightly bubbly, 5 to 10 minutes. Using dinner fork, poke surface of dough 30 to 40 times and sprinkle with kosher salt.

6. Bake until golden brown, 20 to 30 minutes, sprinkling rosemary over top and rotating baking sheet halfway through baking. Using metal spatula, transfer pizza to cutting board. Brush dough lightly with remaining tablespoon oil. Slice and serve immediately.

Variations

Pizza Bianca with Tomatoes and Mozzarella
Empty a 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes into a fine-mesh strainer set over a medium bowl.    Let sit 30 minutes, stirring 3 times to allow the juices to drain.   Combine 3/4 cup tomato solids, 1 tablespoon oil, and 1/8 teaspoon table salt.   (Save remaining solids and juice for another use).

Follow the recipe for Pizza Bianca, omitting the kosher salt and rosemary.   In step 6, bake the pizza until spotty brown, 15 to 17 minutes.   Remove the pizza from the oven, spread the tomato mixture evenly over the surface, and sprinkle with 6 ounces (1 1/2 cups) shredded mozzarella cheese.   Return to the oven and continue to bake until the cheese begins to brown in spots, 5 to 10 minutes longer.

Pizza Bianca with Sausage and Fontina
Remove 3/4 pound sweet italian sausage from its casings.   Cook the sausage in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, breaking it into small pieces with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, about 8 minutes.   Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and place in the refrigerator.   Follow the recipe for Pizza Bianca with Tomatoes and Mozzarella, substituting 8 ounces shredded fontina cheese for the mozzarella and sprinkling the sausage over the pizza with the cheese.

Step-by-Step: Secrets to No-Roll Pizza

1. The dough for pizza bianca is far too wet to roll out. Instead, pour it onto a well-oiled baking sheet.

2. Shaping is easy: Press the dough from its middle toward the edges of the pan.

3. To cook the moisture off, bake the crust on a pizza stone on the middle rack of a 450-degree oven.

Step-by-Step: Pizza Water Works
To achieve its chewy, bubbly texture, our recipe for Pizza Bianca calls for 9 parts water to 10 parts flour—an almost 30 percent higher level of hydration than in most other pizza dough. Water aids the development of gluten, the network of crosslinked proteins that gives bread its internal structure and chew. Up to a point, the more water in the dough, the stronger and more elastic the gluten strands and the chewier the bread. These strands, in turn, help to support the air bubbles formed as the dough bakes, preventing them from bursting and creating an open, airy crust.

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