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Recipe: Sicilian Slab Pizza
(A rare same-day Wordloaf pizza recipe!)
Makes one 1200g half-sheet pie, serving 6
The texture of this pizza is very different than other square/Sicilian-style pizzas. It should be pillowy-soft and light as clouds within, and delicately crisp on the bottom (almost like the crust on a fresh hot donut), not crunchy. That's why it is proofed for a long time and baked quickly at a high temperature, high in the oven, and without using a stone or steel. (If you want a more crunchy bottom, set it on a preheated baking surface and/or bake it longer.)
This recipe works best with a ~12.5% protein flour like King Arthur bread flour; KA AP flour will work in a pinch.
If you don’t have semolina, just use 590g bread flour total, but do add 60g of it with the yeast at the beginning of step 2. Making a “batter” before you form the dough helps to homogenize the mixture.
The dough will seem very wet during proofing, especially early on. Don’t worry, it will tighten up after a few sets of folds, and the bench flour used during shaping will make it easy to handle.
Much of that thin, crisp, donut-y texture (and aroma) comes from the addition of lots of bench flour during stretching and transfer to the pan; it’s almost like it gets “dredged” in flour and then fried in the light application of oil that the pan gets. All that flour also helps make the dough easy to stretch and move around without mishaps, so don’t skimp on it!
The toppings should be molten and liquid when the slice is hot, hence the use of a generous amount of sauce and the light application of cheese, haphazardly applied in clumps.
Remember the comment from Lanzalotta about the “geography” of the pie; the goal is tall, mostly un-topped, slightly charred mountains, surrounded by rivers and valleys of molten cheese and pooled sauce.
Timeline (4h total time):
0:00 - Mix dough without salt (autolyse) (30m)
0:30 - add salt; combine (30m)
1:00 - fold (30m)
1:30 - fold (30m)
2:00 - fold (30m)
2:30 - fold (30m)
3:00 - fold; proof until about doubled and jiggly (30-90m)
(3:15 - preheat oven to 500˚F)
3:30 - shape, transfer to pan; rest until puffy (~15m)
3:45 - top and bake (13-15m)
495g water (83%)
60g evoo (10%)
30g honey (5%)
60g semolina flour (10%)
12g instant yeast (2%)
530g bread flour (90%)
13g salt (2%)
Take the temperature of your bread flour with an instant-read thermometer. Subtract that number from 75. Add the result to 75 and then heat (or cool) your water to that temperature (before weighing it out). (The goal here is to get the dough to as close to 75˚F as possible, for optimum fermentation. If yours ends up off by a bit, don’t stress it too much, it will temper as it sits.)
Place the water, honey, and oil in a large bowl. Add the semolina flour and yeast and whisk until the mixture is smooth. Add the remaining flour and stir with a dough whisk or by hand until the mixture is uniform and no dry flour remains. Cover loosely and let sit for 30 minutes.
Sprinkle the salt over the dough and stir with a dough whisk or by hand until the salt is fully incorporated. Cover loosely and let sit for 30 minutes (ideally somewhere close to 75˚F).
Bulk fermentation: about 3.5 hours. Fold at 30-minute intervals, for a total of 5 sets. By the end of the ~3.5 hours, dough should be very puffy, more than doubled in volume, and only moderately sticky.
Thirty minutes before baking, set a rack to the upper-middle position and heat oven to 500˚F.
Coat a half sheet pan with nonstick oil and then brush with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Flour the top of the dough and transfer to a generously-floured countertop. Dust the top of the dough with flour, and gently stretch and dimple it into a 15- by 10-inch rectangle. Fold into thirds like a business letter, transfer to the center the prepared pan, unfold, and stretch it to the edges. Cover loosely and allow to rest until slightly puffy, 15 to 20 minutes.
If the dough has pulled back from the corners, stretch it gently again to fill the pan. Then top with:
Half a 28-ounce can of drained nice canned plum tomatoes, pureed with 1/4 teaspoon sea salt and 1 tablespoon honey, along with enough reserved liquid to yield 1-1/4 cups sauce; spread haphazardly and in varying degrees of depth, to within 1/2 inch of edges of dough.
A 50/50 blend of shredded low-moisture mozzarella and provolone (90g each), scattered haphazardly/clumpily from edge to edge, leaving exposed areas of sauce and dough
1 teaspoon of dried oregano.
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, drizzled from edge to edge.
Reduce the oven temperature to 475˚F. Bake the pizza for 13 to 15 minutes. Aim for a lightly-browned and crisp bottom crust, spotty charring on the un-cheesed parts of the top crust, and melty, stringy, gooey cheese (ideally, the cheese should not brown significantly).
Transfer the pizza to a rack set into a baking sheet and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board, slice, and serve.