The Dough Doctor talks white pizza, laminated dough
Q: We want to do something a little different and offer a white pizza. Can you give some suggestions to help get us started?
A: The two approaches that I’ve used successfully to make white pizzas (pizzas made without the traditional red/tomato-based sauce) work quite well for making a number of different types of pizza.
Both of the white pizza approaches that I use are based on using your regular pizza dough/crust as the base, and then adding a smooth ricotta cheese or Alfredo sauce to replace the red sauce. To make the pizza with ricotta cheese, just spread the pizza with a thin layer of smooth ricotta cheese and begin building the pizza from there. If the ricotta cheese is too stiff to spread easily just blend it in a small mixer or food processor using a small amount of cream to smooth it out to a consistency that can be easier to manage.
My other approach to a white pizza is to use Alfredo sauce. This can be a commercially purchased Alfredo sauce or a very basic one that you can make yourself by melting
together Parmesan cheese, cream and seasoning with white pepper and garlic. For added flavor dimension to either the commercial product or the one that you make yourself I like to blend in a small amount of basil pesto, too, as this really helps to “pop” the flavor.
To me, one of the most important aspects of a white pizza is the correct pairing of the sauce to the toppings. While it is true that you can use just about any toppings on a white pizza that you would use on a traditional red sauced pizza, I believe elegance of the white sauce is brought out better when paired with some toppings more than others. For example, I don’t think any other pizza shows its elegance better than a white pizza topped with seafood. To make this type of pizza, apply the white sauce and then sprinkle generously with dried dill weed. Add small size/high count shrimp, pieces of firm, white flesh fish, a few pieces of clam meat, imitation crab meat, and garnish with pieces of fresh tomato (cherry tomatoes cut in half work great), red onion and a couple of garlic cloves sliced thin. Then sprinkle on a light application of a 50/50 shredded mozzarella/shredded Parmesan blend (about two ounces for a 12-inch pizza is about right). Optional toppings that could also be added are capers and strips of roasted peppers. Bake the pizza as you would any other pizza and serve with a couple of lemon wedges.
Another excellent white pizza presentation is made with pieces of pre-cooked chicken breast. To make this pizza you will add cut up pieces of chicken breast over the top of the sauced pizza skin followed by red onion rings, pieces of fresh tomato, yellow and green peppers cut into strips, mushroom slices and just a “kiss” of marjoram and tarragon for complexity of flavor. Finish with a blended cheese consisting of three parts shredded mozzarella and one part Parmesan or Asiago cheese. Optional toppings can include dollops of roasted garlic, pre-cooked bacon crumbles, Mandarin orange slices or some lightly toasted almond slices.
For the meat lovers there is a white pizza for you, too. Starting with our sauced dough skin, lightly sprinkle on some thyme and rosemary, followed by your favorite steak/beef strips, or combination of meats, then add roasted red onion, roasted red and green pepper strips, slices of fresh garlic clove and mushroom slices. Finish with shredded provolone cheese. Optional toppings can include smoked provolone to replace the regular provolone cheese, a sprinkle of truffle oil immediately after baking or a few slices of seeded, roasted jalapeño pepper.
Lastly, for the vegetarians a great white sauce pizza with vegetable toppings can also be made. While many times the pizza is built on a sauced skin, in this application we will take a slightly different approach. Begin by brushing the dough very lightly with sesame oil, apply some sliced or diced garlic over the dough and then use the white sauce that you would normally put on the dough to coat the vegetable toppings of choice. This is easily done by tossing the vegetables in a small bowl along with the white sauce. If necessary, you can add additional sauce to coat the vegetables. Spread the coated vegetables over the oiled pizza skin and finish with an application of three-parts provolone and one-part shredded Parmesan cheese followed by a light dusting of Romano cheese. Optional topping vegetables can include cauliflower, broccoli, snow peas and canned whole kernel corn.
White pizzas can be whatever you want them to be. They can be an everyday menu option to a red/tomato based sauce, or they can be held to a higher standard and only offered on certain nights of the week. In this regard, the seafood pizza might make for a very good Friday night special.
Q: We would like to experiment using a laminated type of pizza crust, but all of the procedures we have found for making laminated dough are for making pastries and the process is quite long and drawn out. Is there an easier way to make a laminated pizza crust?
A: Yes, there is. What you have been looking at sounds like the traditional method for making a laminated dough, which includes sheeting the dough, adding a roll-in fat to the surface of the dough, followed by a number of folding and sheeting operations with several hours of rest between each folding and rolling operation.
A much easier way to make a laminated dough but without all the work is to incorporate 15-percent hard fat flakes (based on the dough weight) into the dough at the mixer. In this process, the dough is mixed in your normal manner, but about four minutes before the completion of dough mixing the hard fat flakes are added to the dough and mixed in just enough to ensure thorough incorporation (which will normally take about an additional four minutes of mixing).
After mixing, the dough can be processed in the same manner as you do your regular dough. As the dough is opened into pizza skins the fat flakes will orient in a somewhat horizontal fashion. And as the dough bakes the fat flakes will melt and be absorbed into the surrounding dough, giving the finished crust the appearance and textural properties of having been laminated.
Hard fat flakes are available from most bakery ingredient suppliers. Depending upon the supplier, you might have a choice to make when choosing the fat flakes. If this is an option, choose the largest diameter, thickest, and highest-melting-point flakes available. Be aware that some flakes are offered as colored or non-colored, my preference for pizza work is the non-colored version, but if your only option is the colored flakes be aware that they will add a slight yellow color to your finished crusts.
Tom Lehmann is a former director at the American Institute of Baking in Manhattan, Kansas and Pizza Today’s resident dough expert.