Tuesday, February 9, 2010

This ain't no no-knead pizza

I first heard about Jim Lahey's no-knead bread recipe through the lovely Luisa from Wednesday Chef, and was intrigued by the whole business: fermenting water, shaggy dough, crackling bread! I read as much as I could, and it seemed as if every blogger worth his/her salt made this with showstopping success and loved every minute of it. The recipe was copied and saved and added to my to-bake list.

And that's where it still is. You know why? It's the waiting bit. First it's 12 hours (but preferably 18). Then wait another 2 hours. Then bake for 30 minutes at a temperature which will probably ruin your fabulous new castiron pot's handle. And it's 3 days later before you get to enjoy this wonderful bread. Now, I think it's time for me to play the baby card. Just reading about all this waiting around, and thinking about how I'm going to fit it in between feeding a baby, playing with a baby, trying to get a baby to go to sleep, changing a baby, and have I mentioned feeding a baby?, and I'm exhausted enough to abandon the recipe for some unforseen future date, probably when Little Girl is in her teens.

Also, and probably more importantly, there's the no-kneading bit, which I realise is necessary as it's part of the name and everything, but the more I think about it, the more I have to admit that I actually like kneading. I like how the dough is all gooey and sticky and messes up your rings (and I ALWAYS forget to take off my rings), but the more you push and fold and push and fold, the silkier it gets, until you're left with a smooth mound of soft white springy dough. I find it therapeutic, much the same as stirring risotto.

Then, to top it all, I found a recipe that doesn't include waiting. That's right. You turn on the oven, mix you dough, knead it for about 10 blissfull minutes, by which time your oven and pizza stone is nice and hot, and you can do a quick assembly and ta-da! Pizza in the oven. Also, if you don't want two huge pizzas, which this recipe makes, you can freeze half of it, ready for those evenings when you're tired and hungry and couldn't be bothered to make something fancier. Oh, be still my fluttering heart!

Not that I have abandoned all hope of ever making Mr. Lahey's masterpiece. It's still on the to-bake list, and it still sounds intriguing. One day I'll get around to it, and see what all the fuss is about. I might even ignore the fact that thousands of bloggers before me has done the same, and write and tell you all about it.

makes 2 large pizzas

2 cups flour (this is where all bloggers start to discuss the virtues of different types of flour. I'm still new and stupid, so let's say plain)
8g sachet instant yeast
pinch of caster sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 cup warm water

Preheat the oven to 200°C.

Sift flour into a bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients, and a pinch of salt, and mix until the dough comes together.

On a floured benchtop, knead the dough until elastic and springy, about 10 minutes. Divide into halves, roll out.

Add your toppings, and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.


You might notice the absence of a photo of the finished pizza. That is because the  Little Girl demanded a drink the moment the pizza went into the oven, and I lost track of time. Fabulous Man was on the phone, so nobody was looking out for dinner. In short, it burnt. Not a lot. It was very delicious after we cut off the burnt edges, but still not good enough to take a photo of. Instead, please accept a photo of an original piece of artwork of mine, called Flower. I know it will make up for it.

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