Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A Different Sort of Pizza and Crust

I have tried many pizza dough recipes in past. More recently I made a batch from Peter Reinhart's book, "The Bread Baker's Apprentice". Ever since I inherited a stack of bread baking books, I have been working with mainly this one by Peter Reinhart, but now in the past couple of weeks have been reviewing Maggie Glezer's, "Artisan Baking Across America. My first loaf from this book was an excellent, dense rye and whole wheat loaf called Dutch Regale's Finnish Rye Bread ("Dutch Regale" was a bakery in Texas, apparently no longer in business). I love these heavy and dense breads. I love a really good chew and I love the flavors. I have nothing against a really good, crusty white bread. I made Jim Lahey's No Knead Breads steadily for over two years before receiving this influx of books and taking a detour from the no-knead concept. I also buy whole wheat and rye berries (kept in the freezer until needed) and grind them myself when possible, to have the freshest grain. I have a grain mill attachment for my Kitchen Aid Mixer and it has gotten a lot of use.
Sullivan Street Potato Pizza from Maggie Glezer's Artisan Baking Across America

As I was once again looking for a bread to make a few days ago, I came across a recipe for Sullivan Street Potato Pizza. I know Sullivan Street Bakery is Jim Lahey's, so I was intrigued. The photo looked really wonderful. Using potatoes on pizza is not a new concept for me. Long, long ago when staying at Caesar's Palace during a conference my husband was attending, we stopped and ate at Spago's in the Forum Shops. I ordered a potato and rosemary pizza with Gorgonzola. It was absolute heaven. The potatoes, cut into slices about 1/4-inch thick, were in a single layer, well apart from each other. The rosemary was fresh and the Gorgonzola was creamy. I am not one for a lot of tomato sauce. My preference is generally a white pizza of some kind and this fit the bill. Don't get me wrong, I really love a good, fresh Margherita Pizza too. I digress.

The thing is, ever since that pizza at Spago's, I have made something similar for myself most times I make pizza at home. I had nothing to go on for a recipe except my memory, but the pizzas still taste fabulous. When the rage of making pizza on the grill took over, I was making my potato, rosemary and Gorgonzola pizzas on the grill. I bake the potato ahead and slice it to use on the pizza. So finding this recipe for a potato pizza with rosemary made me curious. I did not look it up online but just followed the book as stated. I am beginning to wonder a little about how true these recipes are.
Sliced Pizza with piles of potatoes

I believe something went amiss in Ms. Glezer's rendition of the recipe. While her recipe states that it makes 2 smaller or one half-sheet pan size pizza, the topping calls for a whopping FOUR POUNDS of Yukon Gold potatoes. That is a lot of potatoes, folks. I was looking online just now and there is a recipe for Sullivan Street Potato Pizza out there in various places, making a pizza crust of the same size, but using TWO potatoes. Not even two pounds, but just 2 potatoes. I am digressing again, sigh. I followed the recipe as stated in the book. I used the whole 4 pounds of potatoes, though it seemed awfully excessive. I used a whole onion, as called for, though this part left my husband out as he hates onions on something where he can see the pieces. I did what the book said and layered the very thin slices of potato with salt, allowing them to drip for a while, then squeezing excess liquid out before combining them with the onion and rosemary and setting them onto the pizza "dough". 
Very wet dough    |    large colander of potatoes with onion and rosemary    |    all ingredients on the dough

The dough on the pan; note how wet it is
And this "dough" recipe is unlike anything I have seen to date. It is so runny it is actually poured out onto a heavily oiled pan and gently patted out with well oiled hands - over time with 10-minute resting intervals, because this dough (batter) is so thin and wet. The book's instructions for making the dough/batter say to beat the batter for 20 minutes, then add in a small amount of salt and sugar and beat for an additional 2 to 3 minutes. At which time it is just a puddle, though it has visibly developed the gluten. Pouring the batter onto the sheet pan was interesting, because it actually "sheeted" down. Still, it came out well, though runny. The crust of the pizza had a different texture than I am used to. It made a base for all those potatoes though, and that was the whole idea. The potatoes, onions and rosemary made such a huge pile. It called for baking the pizza for 45 minutes, which was about right for getting all those potatoes cooked through. I did top the pizza with a 5-ounce package of crumbled Gorgonzola cheese, because I love that combination, and it helps give the potatoes some zip in flavor.
Slices on a plate

All in all, I would make this recipe again, with modifications. I would certainly use less than half the potatoes called for. The fact that they are sliced so thinly makes sense to sort of pile them on. I would use less onion and more rosemary and definitely keep the Gorgonzola! I do not believe it is worthwhile to put the book's version of the recipe here. The recipe, copied directly from the book can be found here, if you are interested. I am going to try the dough recipe found online for this "same" pizza, from either Martha Stewart or Smitten Kitchen. The recipes on those two sites look identical. The ingredient amounts for the dough are far different, as well as for the potatoes. The pizza I made turned out good, but the amount of potatoes was just too much.

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. I would love to hear from you, to help me continue my journey to explore diverse culinary experiences and hopefully to start you on a journey of your own. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.