Sunday, June 28, 2009
I've been itching to bake this pizza for a few weeks. The color photograph in the book looks wonderful. But it's pizza dough, lots of potatoes, onion, rosemary, and olive oil. No cheese, no tomatoes. Just potatoes and bread. The kind of thing that would make your mother say, disapprovingly, "You don't need two starches." Or maybe you'd say that to yourself, especially if you just got off a low-carb diet. But the picture looks so good. I figured it would either be spectacularly good or dull. It was actually both.
The bites at the edge of the pizza, where the crust was golden brown, and the potatoes were soft yet crisp, and there were little bits of onion and salt--those bites were fabulous. The middle of the pizza, which stuck to the pan, and where the potatoes were neither soft nor crisp, were mediocre.
When I looked at the picture in Artisan Baking again, I saw that the pizza was on a pizza stone. Well, no wonder. My problems with pizza in the past have always been because I was too cowardly to bake the pizza dough directly on a hot stone. After getting encouraging comments from readers, I finally dared to do it, and it did make an amazing difference. If only I had remembered this learning experience, I might have used it.
I made only half the recipe, and it was more than enough for two people. If you make the full recipe, you'll have a lot of pizza.
The dough is one of those miracle doughs, like the focaccia recipe in The Bread Bible. It's very, very wet, and it doesn't look like it's ever going to do anything. Then, after a good 20 minutes, it starts to come together, and suddenly it's a real dough.
This is a great pizza to make on a weekend because you can mix it up in the late morning, and have the afternoon free before you have to come back and start working on it again.
After the dough has risen and rested, it's pretty easy to stretch out onto a pizza pan (although I've just told you that I shouldn't have used the pan). It does need to rest for about 10 minutes (or longer) or it will pretend that it's moving toward the edge of the pan and then it will just slither back into place.
I squeezed the potatoes, and put them in a colander, and dried them with towels. They still didn't get as dry as I would have liked, but the dough was ready and I was hungry, so I just plunked them on top of the dough, and brushed them with more olive oil. (I didn't use all the potatoes, by the way, and I don't think you need 4 pounds--I would use only about half the recommended amount. I'd also use more than the recommended amount of rosemary).
The pizza bakes for nearly 40 minutes, which is really quite pleasant because it smells amazingly good when it's cooking. When I took it out of the oven, I thought that I had achieved pizza nirvana. It was the best looking crust I've ever achieved.
The picture in the cookbook is of a large rectangular pizza baked in a half-sheet pan. Because I cut the recipe in half, I used a round pizza pan.
I think the deck is stacked against a pizza maker using a home kitchen. You just can't get a hot enough oven. If I were to do this again, I think what I'd do is oil a big piece of parchment paper and shape the pizza on parchment. Then I'd transfer the parchment to a pizza peel and slide it right onto a preheated baking stone. I think then you'd get all the delicious flavor and crunchiness without the sticking-to-the-pan problem.
If anyone has made this pizza, I'd love to hear how it went for you.
Sullivan Street Potato Pizza
--from Artisan Baking, by Maggie Glezer
For two 13 x 9-inch pans, or one half-sheet pan
3/4 cup plus 2 Tablespoons (130 grams) unbleached bread flour
3/4 cup plus 2 T. (130 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp. instant yeast
1 1/4 cups (285 grams) lukewarm water
1/2 tsp. granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
Extra-virgin olive oil.
Mix the flours and yeast in a mixing bowl. Using the paddle attachment, add water on low speed until the batter comes together. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 20-25 minutes until it cleans the bowl and comes together. (If it hasn't started to come together in 20 minutes, add a few pinches more flour). The dough should still be quite weg. Add sugar and salt and mix for another 2-3 minutes.
Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it rise about 4 hours.
Coat the baking pan or pans with olive oil. Pour the dough directly into the pan. With hands coated with olive oil, press the dough into a thin layer. Let it rest for 10-15 minutes, and then finish pressing it into the whole pan. It will be quite thin. Cover and let rise for another hour.
Meanwhile, slice 7 Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled (about 4 pounds) into thin slices. Toss them with salt and let them exude moisture for about 15 minutes. Squeeze them dry in a colander to release more of their liquid. Toss them with a thinly sliced onion and about 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary.
About 30 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F (220 C) and put one rack on the oven's top shelf. If using two pans, put another rack on the lower third.
After the dough is proofed, spread on the potato topping. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with more salt. Bake until the potatoes are brown at the edges and easily pierced with the tip of a knife, about 40 minutes.