January 23rd, 2012 - By Lari Robling
When Mark Bittman made Jim Lahey's Sullivan Street Bakery's no-knead bread famous, we all planned our days around the twelve hour rise of the dough. Eventually that got tedious, no matter how delicious the bread.
But, fortunately, Lahey wrote a book and shared his slow fermentation techniques with pizza as well.
Lahey's pizza dough requires just two and half hours to rise, a far more manageable commitment on a weekend, plus you can freeze the dough for weekday use. He's also solved the home pizza dilemma—the crust often seems more like a loaf of bread than a crisp body to hold your toppings.
Why make pizza at home when the delivery guy is just a phone call away? Most commercially made pizzas are loaded with salt, fat and other additives. At home, you control how loaded the calorie count.
This past weekend, I gave Lahey's cauliflower pizza recipe a try. It's got lots of veggie and just a smidge of cheese.
Since my kitchen is cold and drafty… a downside to any kind of yeast rise… I often craft a "proof" box out of my microwave. I boil about a cup and half of water in the microwave and let it sit and steam a bit. Now I've created a warm, moist environment that yeast loves—so in goes the dough, shut the door and let it rise.
Stretching the dough is probably the most difficult part of the recipe and my stretch always leaves a few holes and thin spots…
The dough is very forgiving, though, and once you have stuff on top, you don't notice errors on the bottom.
I couldn't find white cauliflower in my neighborhood market, so I paid a premium price for orange cauliflower. Actually, this may even be better since its cheddar hue looks like cheese and it's higher in vitamin A.
The pizza cooks in a 500° oven in about 15 minutes, faster than the delivery guy. And for me, the fresh taste of roasted cauliflower with a hint of cheese is much better than any meat and cheese monster that tastes like the cardboard box it arrived in.