The view from here is the Olympic Mountaintops in the dense clouds hanging low over the Puget Sound. Whidbey Island Fort Casey is where I meet annually with my inimitable MFA cohort–an arts colony people like none other, huzzah.
Because I am surrounded by lovely words and those who live in whirlwinds to both consume and create lovely words—these words shall be added to the bread feast. Anna Kamienska is the poet of the day whose credo to the world is as good and convincing as any belief—from “The Other World,” the line that has lingered in me today is: “I believe in bodies/stopped in a rush/ in mid-gesture in reaching out/ as if something long awaited/was just about to happen/ as if in a minute/ meaning was to raise up/ its index finger.”
Pizza Bianca with Garlic and Rosemary
INGREDIENTS for the Basic Pizza Dough
1/2 cup warm water (about 110°)
1 envelope (2 1/4 tsp.) instant yeast
1 1/4 cups water, at room temperature
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups (22 oz.) bread flour, plus more for dusting (used all-purpose)
2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
olive oil or non-stick cooking spray for greasing the bowl
- Measure the warm water into a 2-cup liquid measuring cup. Sprinkle in the yeast and let stand until the yeast dissolves and swells, about 5 minutes. Add the room temperature water and stir to combine.
- Sautee four cloves of garlic with one teaspoon each of rosemary, oregano, and thyme. Add to the dough mixture.
- Add flour and salt to the liquid ingredients. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Form the dough into a ball, put it in a deep oiled bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Press the dough to deflate it.
- Place a pizza stone in the lower third of the oven. Heat the oven to 500° for at least 30 minutes. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough into two equal pieces. Form both pieces of dough into smooth, round balls and cover with a damp cloth. Let the dough relax for at least 10 minutes but no more than 30 minutes
- Working with one piece of dough and keeping the other covered, shape the dough and transfer to a pizza peel or round of parchment dusted with semolina or cornmeal.
- Lightly brush dough round with plain olive oil. Prick dough all over with a toothpick so it won’t balloon in the oven.
- Combine ¼ cup olive oil with 6 minced garlic cloves, and four teaspoons minced fresh rosemary.
- Slide the dough onto the pizza stone.
- Bake until the crust edges brown and cheese is golden brown in spots, about 6 to 10 minutes, pull out and cover with one third of the herb oil, and put back in oven for 1-2 minutes until the garlic becomes fragrant. Top with parmesan cheese or whatever else you want!
KP and I made many, many pizzas before I left for Washington. Janelle came over to test and ended up trying to capture the magic on film. Too fast for flash! Also, I am aware these pizzas are not quite round–early technical difficulties with the dough sticking to the peel–cannot emphasize enough how you’ll need more cornmeal or semolina than you think. The later pizzas are more geometrically pleasing. This is the basic recipe for the dough that will be the first step in all of the other pizza recipes that follow. It is so easy, but the pizza stone is really the essential—it crisps the crust in just the right way. This particular pizza, with all of its oil and lack of toppings really needed that crisp. The taste of the garlic and the oil and the Parmesan held something like suspense, after the first bite was the lingering mid-gesture, a raised index finger, as if to say, I suspect that more good will come even if in the next bite, and the next.