Pizzetta Bianca

White Pizza

A thin focaccia topped with rosemary, garlic and chilli, moistened with olive oil, and finished with crisp sea salt. After the guests have had the wonders of Ruocco’s pizza, they complain that they could never duplicate the oven (except for one architect who went home and built himself one), and therefore need not even try. To counter this I make this simple dish and cook it in a domestic oven. The results speak for themselves.

Ingredients

  • 1 recipe Bread Dough, divided into tangerine-sized balls
  • good olive oil
  • 1 small dried chilli, minced
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • bread flour
  • Maldon sea salt

Method

You will need two baking sheets, a rolling pin, and the base of a loose-bottomed flan ring, the bigger the better.

Preheat the oven to its maximum well in advance, as it must be as hot as you can get it. Put 6 tbsp olive oil in a small pan and set over a very low heat, then add the chilli and garlic. Infuse and warm for 10 minutes then remove from the heat and add the stripped rosemary needles.

Put the baking sheets in your very hot oven. Cover your work surface liberally with flour and press one ball of dough on it with the heel of your hand until it forms a 1 cm thick disc. Flour the rolling pin and roll out into a 20 cm oval by only rolling in one direction. Turn this oval through 90 degrees and roll in one direction away from you. You will now have a rough circle. Flour your hands and lift the dough circle and sweep more flour under it, then with your hands press the dough into a very thin and regular circle, trying to leave the edges a little thicker. Flour the flan ring base and, holding at a 20 degree angle, quickly insert it under the dough.

Dribble the pizzetta lightly with some of the flavoured oil, making sure some garlic, rosemary and chilli goes with it. Do not swamp and do not allow the oil to run over the edge of the pizzetta as this will prevent rising. Slide this pizzetta off the flan base on to one of the baking sheets in the oven and cook for 8–10 minutes until brown, slightly risen and bubbly. Immediately you put it in the oven start another one, it will be needed! Serve hot sprinkled with sea salt, and drink a coarse red wine with it. Don’t burn yourself in your greed.

Little Tips and Variations

  • There are innumerable toppings you can put on this type of bread but remember the bread is the point, any flavourings should only be sparsely scattered. Here are a few suggestions: sliced raw red onions, sage, salt and olive oil; diced black olives and chilli with oil; diced sun-dried tomatoes, coarse black pepper, salt and oil; anchovies, diced with sliced onion.
  • Never oil the baking sheet or flan base. Flour in copious quantities is the lubricant, and its slightly charred flavour when cooked is an important element of the dish’s taste. For this dish the dough must be rolled as thin as humanly possible, and the laying on of hands as described above is the best method. It’s your pizza and your kitchen.

    The cooking time given in these recipes is not absolute, it all depends on how hot your oven will go. A shorter time is unlikely, but up to 5 minutes more may be necessary. A pizza base ideally should be crisp on the rim and on the base, but must be tender and pliant as well. This is achieved by a very high cooking temperature.

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