Finally another update in our review of Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian! Today’s recipe is “white pizza,” or pizza without tomato sauce, which Mark B. describes as “the mother of all pizzas.” As it makes an appearance on the list of “20 essential vegetarian dishes,” we tried it a few nights ago.
Regular readers may recall that I have not had the best luck with homemade pizza (witness this post). But the recipe seemed easy enough — whiz together 3 cups flour, 2 teaspoons instant yeast, 2 teaspoons salt, 1 cup water and 2 tablespoons olive oil in the food processor. Knead it for a minute or so, plop it into a bowl and let it rise for about 2 hours.
Lacking a pizza stone, I patted out the dough directly onto a greased cookie sheet and topped it with quartered cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, grated parmesan and a drizzle of olive oil. It went into the oven at 500 degrees and that’s when my problems began. After 12, 15, 18, 20 minutes the pizza was brown on top but totally raw underneath. I blame my oven, which is one of those evil European/electronic creatures whose whole mechanism hinges on whether or not the clock is properly set. Anyhoo, pizza #1 (pictured top) was doughy and thick. Nothing special, certainly not as good as the local pizzeria and definitely not “among the best breads you’ll ever eat” (to quote Mark B.).
But then I switched the oven setting from “convection” (at least I think that’s what that picture of a chicken on a spit is trying to convey) to “heat from the bottom” (picture of fish with line under it).
Maybe it was because the dough had more time to rest. Or because I changed the oven setting. But pizza #2 was marvelous — thin, crisp, yet slightly chewy… Call me converted. I can’t wait to try this again with different toppings — I’m thinking fresh rosemary, olive oil, and a little sea salt, though Mark’s B.’s suggestion of lemon zest, fresh parmesan and freshly ground black pepper also sounds pretty delicious…