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White Pizza (Pizza Bianca)

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Yields four individual 12-inch pizzas

  • 1 recipe Pizza Dough, refrigerated for at least 8 hours
  • Unbleached bread flour or semolina, for dusting
  • 1-1/3 cups whole-milk ricotta
  • 1-1/3 cups grated low-moisture mozzarella or provolone
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for brushing
  • 2-1/2 Tbs. chopped fresh oregano or 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 4 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Take the dough out of the refrigerator, set it on a lightly oiled work surface, and divide into 4 equal pieces of about 7 oz. each. Roll each piece into a tight ball. Line a baking sheet with parchment and lightly oil it with olive oil or cooking spray. Set each ball at least an inch apart on the parchment. Lightly spray or brush the balls with olive oil and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Let the dough warm up and relax at room temperature for 1-1/2 to 2 hours.

If you have a baking stone, put it on the middle rack of the oven. If not, set a rimmed baking sheet upside down on the middle rack to serve as a baking platform. Heat the oven (regular or convection) to its highest setting. Fill a small bowl with bread flour or semolina, and dust a 12-inch-square area of a clean work surface with a generous amount. Prepare a peel for transferring the pizzas to the oven by dusting the peel with bread flour or semolina. (If you don’t have a peel, use a rimless cookie sheet or the back of a rimmed baking sheet, also dusted with flour.)

Shape the dough:

With floured hands, transfer one of the dough balls to the floured work surface. Sprinkle the dough lightly with flour and gently press it with your fingertips into a round disk—you’re trying to merely spread the dough, not squeeze all the gas from it. With floured hands, carefully lift the disk of dough and rest it on the back of your hands and knuckles. Using the tips of your thumbs, stretch the outer edge as you slowly rotate the dough until it is 10 to 12 inches in diameter. The edge should be the only place where you exert any pressure. If necessary, let the dough hang off one of your hands so that gravity provides some of the stretch. Despite the pressure on the edge, it will remain thicker than the inner section of the dough, which should be nearly paper thin. Don’t pull the dough forcefully into a circular shape or it will stretch from the center and possibly rip. If the dough begins to resist and keeps shrinking back into a smaller circle, lay it on the floured work surface and let it rest for about 2 minutes. While it is resting you can begin to stretch and shape another dough ball. Return later to the first dough and finish shaping it.

Top the pizza:

In a small bowl, stir together the cheeses, olive oil, oregano, and thyme. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Lay the shaped pizza dough on the floured peel and spread one-quarter of the cheese mixture evenly over the dough, leaving 1/2 inch of the outer rim topping-free.

Bake the pizza:

Carefully slide the pizza onto the baking stone using a jerking motion to get it to slide. If it sticks to the peel, carefully lift the stuck section and toss a little flour under it. Bake until the edge is puffy and brown with a slight char and the underside is brown and fairly crisp, 5 to 7 minutes (the hotter the oven, the faster and better it will cook). Rotate it after 3 minutes for even browning. Remove the pizza from the oven with either the peel or a long metal spatula and put it on a cutting board. While the first pizza is cooking, shape and top the remaining pizzas.

Leftovers

If you decide not to make all the pizzas, bake any remaining shaped dough as untopped pizza, brushed with olive or garlic oil prior to baking, and serve or save as flatbread.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 870; Fat (g): 41; Fat Calories (kcal): 360; Saturated Fat (g): 16; Protein (g): 32; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 19; Carbohydrates (g): 92; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 3.5; Sodium (mg): 1380; Cholesterol (mg): 75; Fiber (g): 3;

Photo: Scott Phillips

I've made several white pizza recipes before and this is by far the best. It's so quick and easy too. I used frozen dough from Whole Foods instead of making crust from scratch, and brushed the dough with garlic olive oil before adding the cheese and herbs. Served with an arugula salad with lemon-olive oil dressing. Will definitely be making this again!

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