Pizza Bianca might not look like a traditional pizza, but this Italian style bread is quite tasty! Bake up a batch today!
What’s in a name? That which we call a
rose pizza by any other name would smell taste as sweet delicious. With apologies to Billy Shakes for bastardizing his quote, I do think we can all agree that pizza is delicious, right? I mean how can you go wrong with flavorful crust, sauce and your favorite toppings? Aye, there’s the rub. (Apparently I’m on a real Shakespeare kick today.) And I don’t mean the seasonings you rub onto the pizza crust.
When someone mentions pizza, you probably conjure up the image of a traditional round pizza topped with cheese and perhaps pepperoni. But there are a lot of different styles of pizza out there. I’m not referring to all of the different combinations of pizza toppings. I’m referring to actual styles of pizza. There’s deep-dish, thin-crust and traditional. There’s stuffed crust. There’s Sicilian style, and then there’s Neapolitan style. There’s New York style, and then there’s Detroit style. (The Detroit style is new to me, but it seems to be gaining in popularity lately.)
Today we’re looking at another style of pizza – the Pizza Bianca. By strict translation, a Pizza Bianca is of course a “white pizza.” It’s a pizza which relies on olive oil, salt and perhaps some chopped herbs for flavor. There is no red sauce in the world of Pizza Bianca. You could possibly find some fresh mozzarella or Parmesan cheese, but no red sauce. It might sound boring, but it’s not. This pizza is amazing, and I couldn’t stop eating it!
The Pizza Bianca share many similarities to focaccia. After all, both are dimpled with your fingertips and brushed with olive oil before baking. Both rely on simple ingredients like olive oil, salt and herbs. However, this is where the similarities end. Focaccia is baked in a pan, and it’s much thicker. Pizza Bianca is more like a pizza crust in that it gets baked directly on a baking stone (or on a hot baking sheet). Focaccia also includes a generous amount of olive oil in the dough itself. Pizza Bianca? It’s a lean dough that relies on water and a small amount of olive oil in the dough. (More olive oil gets brushed on before baking, but there’s only a small amount in the dough itself.)
If you’ve ever had the opportunity to travel to Rome, then you certainly know the sandwiches that are sold on almost every street corner. Simple, thin bread stuffed with tomatoes and fresh mozzarella. Sometimes you’ll even see them with a piece of breaded chicken. They are in every bakery, and they are on street vendors’ carts throughout the city. With that in mind, I split my Pizza Bianca here at home and created sandwiches with fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and chopped basil – think caprese salad in a sandwich form. One word – amazing!
Pizza Bianca is proof that pizza doesn’t need a sauce. Sure, it might not be the same as the pizza you conjure up in your head – but it’s amazing nevertheless! And this style of pizza is also proof that pizzas don’t need cheese. Indeed, Ed Levine (founder of Serious Eats) notes that Pizza Bianca should never be topped with sauce and cheese – it’s like adding mayonnaise to a hot dog. He also asked for a slice of this pizza to be put in his casket when he dies – that’s how good it is!
I hope you get a chance to make this recipe at home. It’s flavorful and delicious by itself (I truly couldn’t stop nibbling on it), but if you split it and turn it into a sandwich with tomatoes and mozzarella? Well, then you’re in for a special treat! Enjoy!
Did you bake this Pizza Bianca recipe at home? Leave a comment, or snap a photo and tag me on Instagram (@Spicedblog). I’d love to see your version!
For Pizza Bianca
- 3 tsp active dry yeast
- 4¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp kosher salt plus more for topping
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil plus more for coating dough
- 2 tsp minced garlic
- 2 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary and/or oregano
For Filling (optional)
- 8 oz. fresh mozzarella sliced
- 2 large tomatoes sliced
- ½ cup fresh basil
- shaved Parmesan cheese
- Place 1½ cups of lukewarm (~100°F) water in a small bowl. Sprinkle yeast on top and let stand for 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, add flour and salt to the bowl of a countertop mixer; stir until well combined.
- Transfer yeast and water mixture into the bowl. Using the dough hook, mix on low speed until just combined. Increase speed to medium and mix for 8-10 minutes.
- Transfer dough to a lightly-floured work surface. Divide dough into 4 pieces and shape each piece into a ball.
- Rub a small amount of olive oil over outsides of dough balls. Place dough on a baking sheet and cover lightly with plastic wrap. Place baking sheet in a warm location and let rise for 2 hours, or until almost doubled in size. About 30 minutes before dough is done rising, preheat oven to 500°F. (If you have a baking stone, place it in the oven on the bottom rack.)
- Working with one piece of dough at a time, place dough on a lightly floured work surface. Roll/stretch dough into a 7”square, adding more flour as needed to keep dough from sticking. (see note below)
- Transfer dough to a lightly oiled baking sheet. Brush top of dough with ~1 Tbsp of olive oil. Using your fingertips, stipple the top of dough to create small indentions. Sprinkle top of dough with additional salt, ½ tsp of minced garlic and ½ Tbsp of chopped herbs.
- Bake on bottom rack of oven (on top of baking stone if using) for 7-9 minutes, or until golden brown in color. Repeat with remaining pieces of dough.
- Pizza Bianca can be served warm by itself, or it can be cut into squares, split open and filled stuffed with fresh mozzarella, fresh basil, sliced tomatoes and shaved Parmesan cheese.
Looking for more unique pizza recipes? Check out these other favorites, too: