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After getting an email from Tasting Table last week with the story behind Jim Lahey, founder of the Sullivan Street Bakery here in NYC, and his No-Knead Pizza Dough — we were all over the his No-Knead Bread phenomenon — I rushed into the test-kitchen and gave it a whirl.
Lahey's trick is to develop the gluten, which is what gives dough its bend, stretch and snap, not by doing tons of kneading, but rather to let the dough rise for 12-24 hours. If you plan ahead and know on Tuesday that you want pizza on Wednesday, this isn't a problem.
The first night, we made one of the four crusts into a fridge-clearing pizza: the dregs of a can of tomatoes, the ends of a salami, the last spoonfuls of a batch of pesto and some, shall we say aging mozzarella. I could guess a recipe, but really it's about mounding it all on. Delicious. I froze the remaining three crusts to see how that would shake out. How great would it be to make a load of pizza dough and not have to use it all at once?
Last night I defrosted one of those crusts and made pizza number two: a more thought-out combination of fennel, anchovy, mozzarella and a touch of Meyer lemon zest. The jury came back with an overwhelming thumbs up on the defrosted crust, and the toppings. The smallest thumbs-up came from the youngest member of the jury, who made her own little pizza.
Fennel and Anchovy Pizza
makes one 10-12" pizza
2 tablespoons olive oil 1/4 fennel bulb, cored and sliced thin a few spoonfuls flour 1 ball pizza dough (see link below for No-Knead) a few spoonfuls coarse cornmeal 2-3 oz mozzarella cheese slices 2-3 anchovy fillets, torn into pieces 1 teaspoon lemon zest a few cracks freshly ground pepper 8-10 one-inch pinched fennel fronds
Preheat oven to 500° F. If you have a pizza stone, stick it in the oven.
In a small skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add fennel slices and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly browned. Remove from heat.
With floured hands over a floured surface, stretch or toss (if you know how) the dough until it is 10-12", taking care not to stretch it too thin. Uneven is okay, this dough makes a rustic crust. No need to aim for a perfect circle either. Press small thumbprints around the crust and brush with remaining tablespoon olive oil.
Sprinkle a baking sheet with cornmeal and transfer the crust over. Re-shape if it's gone askew. Top with the mozzarella slices, fennel, and anchovy. Slide onto the pizza stone, or place baking sheet in oven.
Cook until crust looks golden brown and cheese is bubbling, 6-10 minutes. When ready, carefully pull from the oven, top with lemon zest, a few cracks of pepper and the fennel fronds. Slice and serve.