Basic Pizza Dough
(Read companion article here on Jim Lahey's pizza recipe)
Yield: enough dough for two pies baked in 13x18-inch rimmed baking sheets
3 3/4 cups (500 grams) bread flour
2 1/2 teaspoons (10 grams) instant or active dry yeast
3/4 teaspoon (5 grams) salt
3/4 teaspoon plus pinch (3 grams) sugar
1 1/3 cups (300 grams) water
Extra Virgin olive oil for pan
In a bowl, stir together the flour, yeast, salt and sugar. Add the water, and using a spoon, your hand, or a baker's plastic bench scraper, mix together until blended -- about a minute (Jim says 30 seconds but mine took a bit longer). You don't want to mix or knead this dough too much, or else the gluten will develop and you won't be able to shape it in the pan. But you want to mix in all the lumps of flour. In the end, you'll arrive at a stiff dough.
Cover the dough and let rise at room temperature for about 2 hours. (If your room is cold, put it in the oven with a pilot light to warm up a bit, or in a closed cabinet).
Dump out the dough on a lightly floured surface and cut it in half. Use both pieces, or save one in the refrigerator (I use a zip lock bag) for up to 1 day. Oil a 13x18 inch rimmed baking sheet liberally with good extra virgin olive oil (yes, pour it on). Then gently plop the dough on the pan and stretch and press it out to the edges. If it springs back (that's the gluten working) wait five minutes and then proceed. I found the gluten weak enough to spread it fully over the pan. The dough is very thin. If it tears, piece it back together.
Lahey has a few basic toppings in his book, such as pizza pomodoro (tomato sauce), pizza funghi (mushroom), and pizza cavolfiore (cauliflower), but I zoomed in on his pizza patate (potato). This might sound like a carbo-loading dream, but remember the crust is thin, so you're not stuffing yourself with dough.
As Jim writes, "Potato pizza is another Italian classic you don't see very often in the United States. While my rendition is pretty traditional, I soak the potatoes in salted water first, which actually extracts about 20 percent of their moisture. That causes them to cook more quickly and makes them firmer. It's a little trick I learned from cooking potato pancakes."
YIELD: One 13-by-18-inch pie; 8 slices
EQUIPMENT: A mandoline
1 quart (800 grams) lukewarm water
4 teaspoons (24 grams) table salt
6 to 8 (1 kilo) Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled
1 cup (100 grams) diced yellow onion
1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) freshly ground black pepper
About 1⁄2 cup (80 grams) extra virgin olive oil
1/2 recipe (400 grams) Basic Pizza Dough
About 1 tablespoon (2 grams) fresh rosemary leaves
Preheat the oven to 500 F (260 C) with a rack in the middle
In a medium bowl, combine the water and salt, stirring until the salt is dissolved. Use a knife or mandoline to slice the peeled potatoes very thin (1/16th inch thick), and put the slices directly into the salted water so they don’t oxidize and turn brown. Let soak in the brine for 1-1/2 hour (or refrigerate and soak for up to 12 hours), until the slices are wilted and no longer crisp. (Note: I cut the soaking time to 30 minutes and the results were still good).
Drain the potatoes in a colander and use your hands to press out as much water as possible, then pat dry. In a medium bowl, toss together the potato slices, onion, pepper, and olive oil.
Spread the potato mixture evenly over the dough, going all the way to the edges of the pan; put a bit more of the topping around the edges of the pie, as the outside tends to cook more quickly. Sprinkle evenly with the rosemary.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the topping is starting to turn golden brown and the crust is pulling away from the sides of the pan. Serve the pizza hot or at room temperature.
Variation • Pizza Batata (Sweet Potato Pizza)
Substitute 2 sweet potatoes (800 grams), peeled, for the Yukon Gold potatoes, and use about 4 cups (about 900 grams) water and 24 grams (4 teaspoons) salt for the soaking liquid. Omit the rosemary in the topping.