My Bread by Jim Lahey and Rick Flaste (W.W. Norton, 2009) is a 2010 IACP Cookbook awards finalist in the Baking: Savory or Sweet category. For a list of all the finalists check out the Project Foodie IACP Finalists' Guide.
If you're like me and have had a bit of a love hate relationship with bread making then Jim Lahey's "My Bread' is definitely for you. His innovative 'No-Knead' method has been one of the most written about concepts on food blogs worldwide, and he's gotten some serious love from several print publications and spent time with the grande dame of domesticity Martha Stewart.
If that doesn't solidify that his No-Knead process is the real deal then just ask my friends and family who are beyond impressed with the fresh artisan-like bread that can be found in my home at any given time. It's amazing what a little flour, salt, water, and yeast can create.
Perhaps one of the best things about Jim's No-Knead method is that you don't have to just stop at bread - how about Foccacia or Pizza dough? My current favorite is the Pizza Patate, thinly sliced Yukon Gold potatoes on a crust so chewy and flavorful it might just bring a tear to your eye.
For more on My Bread check out my review with the recipe for Stecca - (stick or small baguette) and Pane all'Olive (olive bread).
Pizza Patate (Potato Pizza)
From My Bread by Jim Lahey and Rick Flaste (W.W. Norton, 2009)
Potato pizza is another Italian classic you don't see very often in the United States. While my rendition is pretty traditional, I soak the potatoes in salted water first, which actually extracts about 20 percent of their moisture. That causes them to cook more quickly and makes them firmer. It's a little trick I learned from cooking potato pancakes.
Yield: One 13-by-18-inch pie; 8 slices
Equipment: A mandoline
- lukewarm water 1 quart/800 grams
- table salt 4 teaspoons/24 grams
- Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled 6 to 8/1 kilo
- diced yellow onion 1 cup/100 grams
- freshly ground black pepper ½ teaspoon/2 grams
- extra virgin olive oil about 1/3 cup/80 grams
- Basic Pizza Dough (see below) ½ recipe/400 grams
- fresh rosemary leaves about 1 tablespoon/2 grams
1. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F, with a rack in the center.
2. In a medium bowl, combine the water and salt, stirring until the salt is dissolved. Use a mandoline to slice the potatoes very thin (1/16 inch thick), and put the slices directly into the salted water so they don't oxidize and turn brown. Let soak in the brine for 1 1/2 hours (or refrigerate and soak for up to 12 hours), until the slices are wilted and no longer crisp.
3. Drain the potatoes in a colander and use your hands to press out as much water as possible, then pat dry. In a medium bowl, toss together the potato slices, onion, pepper, and olive oil.
4. Spread the potato mixture evenly over the dough, going all the way to the edges of the pan; put a bit more of the topping around the edges of the pie, as the outside tends to cook more quickly. Sprinkle evenly with the rosemary.
5. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the topping is starting to turn golden brown and the crust is pulling away from the sides of the pan. Serve the pizza hot or at room temperature.
Variation: Pizza Batata (Sweet Potato Pizza)
Substitute 2 sweet potatoes (800 grams), peeled, for the Yukon Gold potatoes, and use about 4 1/2 cups (about 900 grams) water and 24 grams (4 teaspoons) salt for the soaking liquid. Omit the rosemary in the topping.
Basic Pizza Dough
From My Bread by Jim Lahey and Rick Flaste (W.W. Norton, 2009)
Many of my pizzas are created with this dough as the foundation. Although it's similar in some ways to my basic bread recipe, this dense, brittle, thin pizza base (it's slightly sweet once it's baked and browned) is more about the toppings than achieving a rich bread flavor. So this versatile dough uses more yeast than my basic bread does, because I'm not interested in a particularly long period of fermentation here. I'm not looking for the expansion or the light texture and rich flavor of a good loaf of bread (rather, it should be thin and crisp), and I want to hurry it up-the first rise takes just 2 (rather than 12 to 18) hours. The sugar in the recipe is to feed the yeast. It helps jump-start it. One variation you may notice as you move from recipe to recipe is in the time each pizza takes to bake-because the toppings vary quite a bit, some cook faster than others.
This recipe makes enough dough for two 13-by-18-inch pies (each can be cut into 8 rectangular slices), but the recipes specifying various toppings yield only one pizza each. I've done it this way because most people seem to want variety when they're serving pizza, you can bake one of this and one of that. If you're only going to bake one pizza, it's a simple matter to halve the dough recipe (using a scale, that is; by volume, you'll have to approximate somewhat). You could also make the full recipe and refrigerate half the dough in a lightly oiled freezer bag for up to 1 day, or freeze it for up to 1 month, well wrapped. Thaw the still-wrapped frozen dough overnight in the refrigerator and bring it to room temperature before shaping the pie.
Yield: Enough dough for two 13-by-18-inch pies
Equipment: Two 13-by-18-inch rimmed baking sheets
- bread flour 3¾ cups/500 grams
- instant or other active dry yeast 2½ teaspoons/10 grams
- table salt ¾ teaspoon/5 grams
- sugar ¾ teaspoon plus a pinch/about 3 grams
- room-temperature (about 72 degrees F) water 1 1/3 cups/300 grams
- extra virgin olive oil for the pans
1. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, yeast, salt, and sugar. Add the water and, using a wooden spoon or your hand, mix until blended, at least 30 seconds. The dough is a bit stiffer than most of the others in this book, not as wet and sticky. Cover the bowl and let sit at room temperature until the dough has more than doubled in volume, about 2 hours.
2. Oil two 13-by-18-inch rimmed baking sheets. Use a bowl scraper or rubber spatula to scrape half of the dough onto an oiled pan in one piece. Gently pull and stretch the dough across the surface of the pan, and use your hands to press it evenly out to the edges. If the dough sticks to your fingers, lightly dust it with flour or coat your hands with oil. Pinch any holes together. Repeat with the second piece. The dough is ready to top as you like (see the following recipes).
Disclosure: Review copies of books discussed in this post may have been provided to Project Foodie by publicists and/or publishers.