Alice Waters’ Pizza Dough

The Spice Raconteurs recently got married. (It was a blast, but that’s not really what this post is about.)

One of the cookbooks we received as a wedding gift is the Alice Water’s Cafe Cookbook with recipes for some of the delights she serves at the Chez Pannise Cafe in Berkeley, California.

Last year I took a trip to San Francisco to visit a dear friend and some family members. Because my friend had to work during the day, I took quite a few solo walks through the city. I went to some fun locations like the SF Academy of Sciences, Alcatraz and also took the BART to Berkeley. I also ate everwhere I went so when I went to Berkeley, I had to visit Chez Panisse. I was there for lunch so I visited the Chez Panisse Cafe and had one of the most delicious meals of my life– and wishing Edward was there to share with. Not long after my trip to San Fran, he and I took a road trip to Wyoming where we ended up getting engaged. So, Chez Pannise is mixed up into my vision of romance despite having gone there by myself. I can’t wait to share that dining experience with Edward some day. For now, we’ll have to content ourselves with the cookbooks.

One recipe that is included in the cookbook is for “Pizzetta with Farm Egg and Prosciutto” which I’ll post tomorrow. Today, we’ll dwell on making the dough which came together quite nicely. 

What you need:

  • 2 teaspoons dry yeast (about 1 packet)
  • 3/4 cup lukewarm water
  • 2/3 cup bread flour 
  • 4 cups white flour (or 2 1/2  cups white and 1 1/2 cups whole wheat)
  • 1/4 cup rye flour (or whole wheat)
  • 1 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/3 cup olive oil

What to do:

  1. Make the sponge by disolving the yeast in the water and adding the 2/3 cup of flour. Mix well, and then let sit for about 30 minutes until it is “quite bubbly”.
  2. Mix together the other dry ingredients (white, whole wheat and rye flours and salt) in a separate bowl. Now add a cup of this dry mixture to the sponge along with a cup of cold water. Mix thoroughly and let sit another 30 minutes.
  3. Add the rest of the dry ingredients and the olive oil and mix by hand, or using a mixer with a dough hook, then knead about 5 minutes until the dough is soft and elastic. You want a “soft, slightly sticky” dough so add a little more flour if necessary, but not too much. 
  4. Place the dough in an oiled large bowl and cover with a towel. Put in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size, or about 2 hours. (At high altitude, this will take far less time. It took about 45 minutes for me. Someone concerned with the flavor of the bread could punch the dough and let rise again for another 45 minutes. Or, if you’re hungry, just use it after the first rise– it will still work fine.) 
  5. Punch down the dough and divide into portions– I separated my dough into 6 balls for the pizzettas– and smooth into nice round spheres. Alice recommends wrapping each ball in plastic and letting rest at room temperature for about an hour before shaping. I didn’t do this, however, and it worked out fine.
  6. Either roll out the dough balls to make a pizzetta, or you can store individually wrapped dough balls in the freezer. Just take them out and thaw in the refrigerator the night before.

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