On one of my last weeks in Massachusetts I had dinner at a French Bistro on Newburry Street with my good friend, and apprentice, Marcelo. The Bistro had all of the normal French classics that you would expect but this French pizza, or pissaladière, caught my eye. Normally when you think pizza the first thing that comes to mind is Italy, or at least red sauce and mozzarella cheese. This Pissaladière did not have either.
The French pie was thin and crisp, topped with thinly sliced beef, a stinky blue cheese, and dressed baby arugula. It was nothing like the pizza you would expect from Boston’s North End, this pizza was light and crisp and packed with flavor. With the geeks changing coasts again I knew that I would have to come up with something of my own to taste this again.
I set out to recreate the thin, crispy, cracker-like crust using a basic pizza dough recipe. The proportions of several ingredients were changed and I added rice flour to try to cut back the gluten count; pastry flour could have been used instead, but there was none in the house. The dough was rolled as thin as I could get it and cooked in a very hot oven. The crust was very light, crisp, yet not overly chewy. The dough could take a bit more cooking, but overall it was almost a match.
For my pizza, I decided to change the toppings up a bit: apples, caramelized onions, spinach, and brie. Everything almost worked out perfectly except for the part where I put the spinach on BEFORE cooking the pizza; it pretty much wilted into nothing. Hindsight tells me I should have waited until the cooking was completed, and, taking a play from the bistro, place the dressed spinach on the pie prior to serving. When I make one of these again, this knowledge will come in handy.
Please don’t be too afraid to make this dough yourself. The dough comes together fairly quickly and isn’t all that hard to put together. I used my kitchenaid to mix the dough but you could very well do it by hand if you so desired.
1 cup water, room temperature
3/4 teaspoon yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup rice flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon olive oil
Combine water, sugar, and yeast in a the bowl of a mixer and stir to dissolve.
Mix the two flours and salt together in a separate bowl.
Turn the mixer on low and slowly add the flour until a dough forms. Continue to mix until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl. Add more flour if the dough feels a little sticky. Stop mixing when the dough is slightly tacky and soft-to-firm.
Remove the dough from a mixer and place in a lightly oiled bowl covered with a towel. Let the dough rise for about an hour.
Preheat oven to highest temperature (mine is 550F).
Roll out dough into oval shape, top with your favorite toppings, and cook until golden brown.