Pizza bianca is Rome’s version of a focaccia or flat bread. It’s usually fluffy on the inside, with an outer crispy crunch, and a scattering of salt. You eat it with your hands and yes, your fingers should get a little oily and salty. Antico Forno Roscioli is famous for their pizza bianca and this is their recipe, which is not all that hard to make at home. In Roman dialect, this is pizza e mortazza and it’s one of life’s simple pleasures.
If you want to do as the Romans do, slice a slab open and fill it with mortadella.
- 500 g (1 lb 2 oz) strong flour
- 3 tsp salt
- 1 tsp malt or caster (superfine) sugar
- 1 tsp fresh yeast
- 50 ml (1¾ fl oz) milk
- 340 ml (11½ fl oz/1⅓ cups) water
- extra virgin olive oil, for greasing
- fine semolina flour, for dusting
- sea salt flakes, for sprinkling
- chopped rosemary, for sprinkling (optional)
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Makes 2 trays, each about 34 x 40 cm
Rising time: 10 hours - overnight
Resting time: 30 minutes
Sift the flour, salt and malt together into a large bowl, or the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. In a separate bowl, mix the fresh yeast into the milk, then add the water.
If you are using an electric mixer, add a little of the milk mixture into the flour, then gradually add the remaining liquid as the ingredients blend together. If you are mixing by hand, combine the liquid with the flour using a fork, then use your hands to bring the dough together. The mixture will be very soft, but if it is too wet add a little extra flour.
Once the dough is smooth, form it into a ball and place in a bowl. Rub a little olive oil over the dough, and on the underside of a sheet of plastic wrap. Cover the dough with the plastic wrap and leave to rise at room temperature overnight, or for at least 10–12 hours; in summer, leave it in a cool place.
Once the dough has risen, dust a clean surface — wooden is best — with the semolina flour. Turn the dough out and knead gently. Form into two balls and leave to rest for a further 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 240°C (465°F). Meanwhile, pour a little olive oil onto two baking trays, each about 34 x 40 cm (13½ x 16 inches) in size, tilting to cover the base. On the same floured surface as before, stretch each ball of dough to the same size as the trays, then drag the dough through the oil on both sides before using your fingers to press it into the tray. This will give the pizza its distinctive undulating form and maintain the pockets of air created during the long rising time.
Transfer to the oven and bake for 12–15 minutes, until the dough starts turning lightly golden.
Remove from the oven, brush the tops with more olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt and rosemary, if desired.
Enjoy hot, or leave to cool and fill with whatever ingredients you like.