Bella Bianca

Baked

Truthfully, I’m not usually one for compromise.

I want what I want, and I want it my way, so woe betide those who might get between me and whatever I’m after.

One of the things I enjoy about Sundays is the opportunity for solitude that comes from quietly baking.  However, the Everyman and I had to go out to the KW yesterday afternoon, so any bread I intended to bake needed to be a little easier or more low maintenance.  After last week’s recipe perusal, I had a list of close to a half dozen breads I wanted to play around with in the near future, so from that I selected the one bread that didn’t require any sort of starter or biga; the pizza bianca.

Pizza bianca is pizza in it’s most elemental form.  The dough is similar to focaccia, except it’s not quite as airy.  For a bianca, it is nothing more than dough baked in a blazing hot oven sprinkled with olive oil and sea salt, but to fancy it up a little, you can turn it into pizza rosso, where it becomes a tomato sauce-based pizza.

Back when I first started making focaccia, the Everyman commented that they were similar to the ones he used to buy in Italy as a snack, but mine came with more in the way of herb topping.  After awhile it occurred to me that perhaps what the Everyman had been reminiscing about was a pizza bianca.  I always meant to get around to making him one, but with so many tempting options in Local Breads to sample, who could blame me for neglecting the bianca a wee bit?

White As Mozzarella

The dough turns out to be bread at it’s simplest, with nothing more than flour, water, salt and yeast to it.  It gets interesting when you mix the ingredients together; if using a stand mixer, the recipe states to mix on setting 8 (medium high) for 18 minutes, at which strength the mixer quite literally walks itself off the counter.  As if that wasn’t enough, once the time is up you have to crank it up to 10 for another few minutes, so you must stay close at hand to ensure you don’t end up with a broken mixer after it plummets off the counter from the centrifugal force.

Proofed

Once the dough is properly mixed and tested for windowpaning, it gets proofed in a warm place for 4 hours.  During that time the dough is supposed to become light, airy and develop a more complex flavour.  When finished, it’s a mound of dough that feels heavy for it’s size.  Split it in half and start working on pizza…

Formed

Half the dough gets spread out onto a pizza peel, then dimpled and sprinkled with olive oil and sea salt.  It is left to rest for another 10 minutes, then gently eased into a 500* oven.  The pizza is baked for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the top is golden and the bottom and sides start exhibiting a slight char.  Remove from oven to a wire rack, drizzle with more olive oil and serve immediately.

Heaven, thy name is rustic, Italian bread.  Crispy, crunchy, salty and divinely charred, this bread falls into a class all it’s own.  An amazing snack fresh out of the oven, I get the distinct impression that it’s not nearly as good once it’s more than a day old.  Luckily for me, I don’t think it’ll ever last that long around here.

Until next time…

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