Have you ever asked yourself what is the difference between Pizza bianca (without tomato sauce) and Focaccia? Focaccia we mean a thick and soft dough based on flour, water, oil, yeast and salt, with fine and widespread bubbly crumb. Main difference is due to the second rising directly in the baking tin rising: the first happens as soon as dough is complete; while the second starts once the dough has been rolled.
The result is that dough grow up slowly, developing micro bubbles that create typical and fine spongy texture. Cooking temperature around 250 °C, golden color on the surface, crispy outside, soft on inside and oily everywhere as it should be. We will see it in a dedicated post how to make. Remember: in Genoa, my home town, if you call “focaccia” as “pizza bianca”, the capital punishment applies.
Pizza bianca has, more or less, same ingredients as focaccia but recipe and processing greatly change the final product.
The big difference consists in the water amount, definitely higher than focaccia. A first rising happens in a case, after portioning the loaf, there is another short rest which allows the knitted gluten to relax. Finally rolls carefully the dough taking care of not loosing the internal leavening gasses.
Covered with oil and salt it is suddenly baked. Temperature higher than focaccia, above 300/350 degrees, sharp pockets and absolutely not fined spread.
I have used the Biga technique to prepare homemade pizza bianca, with the precious advise of Alessandro Trezzi blogger of pulpmoviehouse.
What is Biga method?
Making bread with indirect method, biga is a pre-dough made by mixing water, flour and yeast. Proportions are made in a way of obtaining a super dry and lumpy dough. Normally it should be done with strong flour, like W greater than 300 and P/L (resistance/elasticity ratio) variable in a range of 0.5 and 0.6. In my case, being in Doha, I had to use a Polselli flour for which I did not know the characteristic.
Biga foresee short mixing time and a fermentation with constant temperature around 18 °C for “short biga” (till 24 hours). While for the so called “biga lunga”, till 48 hours, you need: – fridge rest at 4 °C for 24 hours; – 18 °C rest in the last 24 hours of resting A basic rule for making a good biga is to avoid to knead with high water percentage, more than 44%, because it would ripe before the foreseen timing.
For this experiment I have chosen an hydration of 80%, biga of 80% on the total amount of the dough and hydration of 44% with 1% yeast everything calculated on the total flour amount for the biga. Moreover I wanted to try a variant, rising the biga on the first part with a temperature of 18/20 °C for about 22 hours and then put it in the fridge to ripe, with a constant temperature, for more 22 hours. Once removed from the fridge I have re-knead the biga and rest for 3 hours at room temperature before roll it and bake.
For preparing only one loaf for a baking tin of 30×40 cm, total final weight 700 gr.
Split into 389 gr. flour and 311 gr. water.
Salt at 2.5% of total flour, therefore about 10 gr.
Biga plug percentage 90% based on the total flour, therefore 311 gr.
44% Hydration for the biga and 1% yeast (dry beer yeast): 216 gr. of flour, 96 gr. of water and 1 gr. of yeast for the biga.
Knead it very fast with your hands in a pot, for about 2 minutes, without heating it to much. Cover with film and leave it rest inside the oven for 22 hours. In order to solve the room temperature problem, that was about 24 degrees, I have put an iced bottle inside the oven to decrease it.
Spent 22 hours take the biga and put it in the fridge for additional 22 hours.
Re-knead the biga with 173 gr. of flour (total of 389 gr. minus 216 gr of the biga) and 216 gr. of water (total of 311 gr. water minus 95 gr. used for the biga) in addition to 5 gr. of honey until to get a soft and non sticky dough. Cover and leave it room temperature for 3 hours.
30 minutes before of rolling the dough you need to switch on the oven to the max temperature (my electrical device reach 300 °C) with fanned oven heat. Once oven is set up to the right temperature, take a little bit of durum wheat flour, to help, roll up the dough with extreme care for not destroying the gas “bubble” internally shaped. Bake in the tin on the bottom part of the oven and after 6/7 minutes shift it on the upper part next to the white hot grill.
Here you are the result.
Super crispy texture, tasty, with melty crumb and well defined bubble.
Try a square of it with extra chilly italian mostarda, soft gorgonzola and crispy guanciale.