I had a cavity filled today and, let me tell you, sporting a Novocaine-numbed mouth is no way to go about writing a blog post. Contemplating food when you can't feel your lower lip or cheek or gums for that matter, is rather frightening. The lack of control over your own muscles, so blithely taken for granted before, is just...well, I don't like it. Who does?
So let me keep this brief. A few weeks ago, the most charming newsletter that I get (I get many and they are mostly a bother) zipped a lovely little missive into my inbox: Jim Lahey's (the bread wizard and proprietor of Co, which I plan to visit later this month) famous no-knead bread recipe rejiggered as pizza dough!
And, lo, an obsession was born. I spent the next 10 days trying to find the right night to start the dough. Because even though the active work time for no-knead dough - as you all probably know - is but a few minutes, you kind of need to plan when you're actually going to bake and eat the bread, right? Finally - finally! - this weekend presented itself. I had time on Saturday afternoon to start the dough and with pizza on Sunday night to look forward to, we would even have something to ward off those inevitable Sunday night blues. Perfect.
The simple mixture of instant yeast, flour, salt and water proofed for 24 hours, until it rose and bubbled and smelled yeasty and sour and wonderful. I dumped it out onto a floured surface, folded it over onto itself a few times and let it rest a few hours longer.
Then that mound of dough was divided into four equal pieces and that's sort of where everything fell apart. I suppose I shouldn't be so dramatic. I mean, we ended up with pizza after all, but that's where the ease of the recipe stopped short. Because, just as Jim warned in the newsletter, making the dough may be a cinch, but working with it, forming it is Difficult with a Capital D.
In fact, I think I failed miserably. 12-inch pizza rounds? More like 9-inch slipper-shaped oblongs. Pizza naan, if you will. The dough was sticky and floppy and entirely unmanageable. I tried rolling it with a pin, I tried stretching it with my hands, I tried letting it rest and going back to it 15 minutes later, and still, all I ended up with were these rather thickish, oddly shaped pizzas.
Of course it doesn't really matter what they looked like, as long as they tasted good. But I quite like a thin crust pizza and try as I might, our pizzas ended up with thickish crusts. The crust was delicious, but it was too bready for my taste. Plus, I'll be honest, wrangling with my dinner to the point that it makes me break out in a sweat is a surefire way to help me lose my appetite.
What a primadonna, right? I totally admit it. You might love this pizza dough! Especially if you like a challenge. Me, I'm going to revel in the fact that I live in New York and can visit Jim's pizza place any time I like and have him make me a pizza. Mmm, doesn't that sound nice?
Makes 4 individual pizzas
3 cups all-purpose or bread flour, more for dusting
¼ teaspoon instant yeast (such as SAF brand)
1½ teaspoons salt
1½ cups water
1. In a large bowl, mix the flour with the yeast and salt. Add the water and stir until blended (the dough will be very sticky). Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rest for 12 to 24 hours in a warm spot, about 70 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface and lightly sprinkle the top with flour. Fold the dough over on itself once or twice, cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest for 15 minutes.
3. Divide the dough into 4 pieces and shape each piece into a ball. Generously sprinkle a clean cotton towel with flour and cover the dough balls with it. Let the dough rise for 2 hours.
4. Stretch or toss the dough into the desired shape, cover with toppings and bake on top of a very hot pizza stone.