The Most Satisfying First Bite of Pizza on Earth

May 16, 2011 | By | COMMENTS

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I am 31 years old. And I have eaten pizza the world over. I’ve had deep dish in Chicago. I’ve had Ray’s in New York: Famous and Original. I’ve had Pissaladiere in France. I’ve had it with anchovies, eggs, duck sausage, cheeseburgers, and gherkin pickles (on different occasions of course). I’ve had it with stuffed crust, no crust, and breakaway dipping crusts. It’s safe to say that I’m as much a pizza expert as I can be without getting all pathological about it.

And as an amateur expert I can, without hesitation, say this. The first bite of a slice of pizza bianca is the most satisfying first bite of pizza on earth.


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Pizza bianca is the pizza of Rome. And like most traditional Italian recipes it’s grounded in simplicity. There’s no sauce, no cheese, no fancy toppings. It’s a chewy bread crust topped with kosher salt, olive oil, and fresh rosemary. It’s like a thinner focaccia. But this simple slice compares with the Meat Lovers, the Hawaiian, and any number of “Supremes”.

Balance. The key to pizza bianca is balance. Your first bite starts with a crunch. I can’t explain how deeply satisfying this crunch is in words. You’ll have to make it, trust me. But it’s not just a crunch, you can get a satisfying crunch out of an ordinary slice of thin crust. The crunch is balanced by a pleasant chewiness of the crust. And it’s the perfect chewiness, squarely between “where’d that bite go?” and “chewing this is a lot of work”.

The flavor is balanced too. The dominant flavor is olive oil which gives the pizza a nice fruity taste. For this reason I like to use regular olive oil, extra virgin is too strong. This is offset by the fresh, piney aroma of rosemary. The kosher salt intensifies all the flavors.

Pizza Bianca (Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen)
Ingredients

  • 3 cups unbleached AP flour
  • 1 2/3 cups water, room temperature
  • 1 ¼ tsp table salt
  • 1 ½ tsp instant or rapid-rise yeast
  • 1 ¼ tsp sugar
  • 5 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 Tbs whole fresh rosemary leaves

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Instructions

  1. Set up a stand mixer with a bread hook. Mix the flour, water, and table salt on low speed until there are no dry patches, about 2 minutes. Occasionally use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides. Let the dough rest for 20 minutes.
  2. Add the yeast and sugar. Mix on low speed for 2 minutes, or until the dry ingredients are mixed in. Increase the mixer speed to high and mix for 10 minutes.
  3. Coat the inside of a large mixing bowl with 1 Tbs of oil. Transfer the (very stick) ball of dough to the mixing bowl and coat with the oil. Add one additional tablespoon of oil to the top. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rest for 2 – 2 ½ hours.
  4. One hour before baking preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Put a pizza stone or cast iron griddle on the middle rack .
  5. Coat a rimmed baking sheet with 2 Tbs of the oil. Turn out the dough onto the sheet. Oil your fingers and press the dough into a flat shape. Try not to tear the dough. If you can’t get it to spread, wait 5 minutes and try again. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes then dock the top with a fork 30-40 times. Sprinkle with kosher salt.
  6. Bake 20-30 minutes. Halfway through sprinkle the rosemary over top and rotate the pan. When the pizza is golden brown transfer to a cutting board. Brush on the remaining olive oil, slice, and serve.

Conclusion
The end result is the simplest pizza I can imagine. Don’t let this simplicity fool you, the texture and flavor pack a powerful punch and it’s the best first bite of pizza you’ll ever have.

About the Author
George writes Cast Iron Foodie to show people the amazing meals they can make in simple cast iron cookware. You can find him on the web at www.castironfoodie.com or on Twitter @castironfoodie.

Categories: Recipes

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