Most people probably think of pizza bianca as the classic roman flatbread topped with oil, rosemary and salt but Italy is a very regionalised country, in fact, my Sicilian housemate had never eaten risotto which hails from the wetlands of the Veneto. In the area where I lived (in Emilia Romagna), pizza bianca was a pizza with a cream sauce generally topped with cheese and prosciutto. One of my favourite toppings was the delightfully-named Squacquerone, a local soft cheese which has an almost gummy texture and sharp taste, with a tangle of green, peppery rocket. But alas, Squacquerone has to be eaten fresh and rarely travels outside of Romagna, let alone all the way to the UK so I am forced to make my own adaptation at home.
Having found my perfect dough, pizza makes a regular appearance at the dinner table; it’s quick, easy, works with whatever’s in the fridge and tastes great every time. I tend to make the dough before work and stick it in the fridge for the day. As soon as I get home I take the dough out to warm up a bit and, when we’re ready to eat, I prepare the toppings while the oven is heating. The pizza bakes in about 12 minutes which gives me time to nip into the garden and pick a salad et voila! Dinner’s on the table in 20 minutes. The following recipe makes a rich, creamy topping suitable for a treat. Pesto and goat’s cheese are great together and set off the rocket and salty prosciutto. A tomato salad dressed with balsamic vinegar is a perfect accompaniment.
Pizza bianca with goat’s cheese, prosciutto and rocket
For the dough:
- 150g strong white flour
- 75g wholemeal spelt flour (or plain wholemeal flour)
- 1/2 a pack (3.5g) instant yeast
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tbsp thyme
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 125 ml warm water
For the topping:
- 150 ml creme fraiche
- 1 clove garlic
- a bunch of chives, chopped
- 100g soft goat’s cheese
- several handfuls of fresh rocket
- freshly ground black pepper
To make the dough, mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl then stir in the oil and water until the dough comes together. It should be a fairly moist dough but not too sticky to work with.
Knead for 5 minutes and form a ball. Cover the bowl with cling film and leave to rise for an hour in a warm place or in the fridge for 8-10 hours. If you put the dough in the fridge be sure to let it come back up to room temperature before using.
When you are ready to make the pizza knock back the risen dough into a ball and place on a floured surface. Roll the dough out to a thickness of approx 3-5mm.
Preheat the oven to 230C, place one shelf near the bottom and one near the top. At the same time pop a heavy baking tray in to warm up.
Finely grate the garlic into the creme fraiche, add the chives and stir.
Take the hot tray out of the oven and transfer the dough on to it. Spread the creme fraiche sauce evenly over it, add some dollops of pesto and crumble over the cheese.
Place on the bottom shelf in the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes. If the top of the pizza does not look golden place on the top shelf for a few more minutes.
Remove pizza from oven and arrange the prosciutto, rocket and black pepper over it before serving.