Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Mi Piace la Pizza Bianca!

This month’s You Want Pies With That challenge is none other than Pizza Pie! Because I am not a big pizza eater – cheese is not on the menu and soy substitutes don’t appeal – I decided to take some inspiration from the country in both our ancestry.

Over the summer I spent a month and a half wandering around Italia. While I devoted much of my appetite (and daily budget) to gelato, I was pleasantly surprised to find cheese-less pizza so easy to come by. While your classic cheesy and meaty slices were readily available, pizza bianca and pizza rosa (essentially plain and marinara-smothered focaccia) could also be purchased by the gram.

Many a lunch in Rome consisted of this golden bread accompanied by zucchini e pomodoro. I really miss the beautiful Italian countryside, the laid-back attitude of the people, and the summer bounty of produce on the farm at which I volunteered. But the best crisp, olive-oil-brushed pizza I have eaten is not quite 6,500 miles away. Serious Pie in the heart of Seattle serves up salt-crusted pizzas baked to perfection in a classic wood-fueled oven.

While I may not have duplicated this delight (lacking in critical components like a 600F and a pizza stone), I did attempt to mimic the flavorful and delicate crust as best I could. I also wanted to embrace the same appreciation for seasonal produce that I experienced on the farm, and that the Italians in general seem to have in great supply. This meant a farmers market excursion, and glorious young spring Walla Wallas and wonderous asparagus!

OK, I won't keep you waiting any longer. I've prepared two scrumptious pizzas based upon a focaccia crust. Note, this is not for the faint of heart. Like a true Italian (ok, half, but still…), I’ve used olive oil liberally – but it is quite necessary to obtain the lovely glow and crunch outer shell.

Focaccia Base

30 g sourdough start (100% saturation)

2 g dry active yeast

150 g warm water

50 g garbanzo bean flour

200 g all-purpose or white whole wheat flour

2 tbs olive oil

5 g salt

1. Mix started, 50 g warm water, and yeast. Let sit for 5 minutes or until bubbly (yeast “activated”).

2. Combine with flours, olive oil, and salt. Mix, adding water until the dough comes together and is only slightly sticky (add more flour if necessary).

3. Let rise (lievito) for 1.5 hours in a warm-ish area (I like my microwave).

4. Follow steps below.

Pizza Bianca di Cipollini e Aglio

3 cloves garlic, sliced

6 baby walla walla onions, slices

3+ tbs olive oil

Salt, kosher flaked or coarse sea, to taste

Pizza Bianca con Asparagi e Limone

4-6 stems asparagus, halved and chopped

Zest of one lemon (reserve ¼ to garnish after baked)

3+ tbs olive oil (lemon scented would be lovely)

Salt, to taste

1. Divide dough between two well-oiled round pans. Flatten into the pans.

2. Brush liberally with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.

3. Add toppings. Brush again with olive oil.

4. Let ‘rest’ in your warm place (above oven while preheating?) for 15-30 minutes.

5. Bake at 425F for 20 – 25 minutes, until golden.

Buon Appetito!


Simply Life said...

oh that looks great!

Unknown said...

This all looks delicious! Love the one with asparagus and lemon and will have to give it a go! Thanks for the great recipes!

Anne said...

Love the story and wow the dough on your pizza sounds AMAZING. Yum!

Sara said...

Wow! I totally adore sourdough foccacia, and topping it with asparagus and lemon...sounds amazing!!! :)

suz said...

I can't wait to try out these fantastic looking pizzas. And who needs sauce and cheese? Veggies and garlic are heaven enough :)

Anonymous said...

Mmm. You're right who needs sauce and cheese when you can make up something as delicious as this??! YUM. Thanks for sharing. :)

miss kate said...

looks wonderful! Especially the asparagus and lemon. So spring-like!