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Recipe: Jim Lahey's No-Knead Pizza Dough, Ham and Cheese Pie

Here's the foundation of Jim Lahey's pizzas - his no-knead dough - from "My Pizza," featured in today's Buffalo News.


"While I’m not picky about the flour—either bread flour or all-purpose is fine—what does concern me is how the dough is handled. Treat it gently so the dough holds its character, its texture. When you get around to shaping the disk for a pie, go easy as you stretch it to allow it to retain a bit of bumpiness (I think of it as blistering), so not all of the gas is smashed out of the fermented dough. I prefer to hold off on shaping the ball until just before topping it. If it’s going to sit for a while—more than a couple of minutes—cover it with a damp kitchen towel to prevent it from drying out. I offer you two approaches for shaping. The simpler one, executed completely on the work surface, is slower than the second, where you lift the disk in the air and stretch it by rotating it on your knuckles. Lifting it into the air to shape it is more fun, too."

Jim Lahey's No-Knead Pizza Dough

(Makes 4 balls of dough, enough for 4 pizzas)

500 grams (17 ½ ounces or about 3 ¾ cups) all-purpose flour, plus more for shaping the dough
1 gram (1/4 teaspoon) active dry yeast
16 grams (2 teaspoons) fine sea salt
350 grams (1 ½ cups) water

In a medium bowl, thoroughly blend the flour, yeast, and salt. Add the water and, with a wooden spoon or your hands, mix thoroughly.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and allow it to rise at room temperature (about 72°F) for 18 hours or until it has more than doubled. It will take longer in a chilly room and less time in a very warm one.

Flour a work surface and scrape out the dough. Divide it into 4 equal parts and shape them: For each portion, start with the right side of the dough and pull it toward the center; then do the same with the left, then the top, then the bottom. (The order doesn’t actually matter; what you want is four folds.) Shape each portion into a round and turn seam side down. Mold the dough into a neat circular mound. The mounds should not be sticky; if they are, dust with more flour.

If you don’t intend to use the dough right away, wrap the balls individually in plastic and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Return to room temperature by leaving them out on the counter, covered in a damp cloth, for 2 to 3 hours before needed.

Note: Don’t freeze the dough, but you can store it in the refrigerator, wrapped in plastic, for up to three days. In effect, when you’re set to use it, you have your own ready-made dough.


"Ham and cheese is, of course, a commonplace combination—but this pizza will still surprise you. The caraway seeds on the bottom of the crust are there because I was, naturally, thinking of rye bread. The ham—prosciutto in this instance—is placed over all the other toppings at the end, like an uncooked blanket, and the result is miles from ordinary."

Ham and Cheese Pie

Makes one 10- to 12-inch pizza

2 grams (about 1 teaspoon) caraway seeds
1 ball of Pizza Dough, shaped and waiting on a floured work surface
(recipe above)
30 grams (about 1 ounce) pecorino fresco, cut into ½ -inch cubes and slightly
flattened by pressing between thumb and index finger
18 grams (1⁄3 cup) finely grated Gruyère cheese
50 grams (about 1 3/4 ounces) fresh mozzarella, pulled into shreds
2 pinches of freshly ground black pepper
100 grams (7 to 10 thin slices) Prosciutto

Place the pizza stone in a gas oven on a rack about 8 inches from the broiler. Preheat the oven on bake at 500°F for 30 minutes. Switch to broil for 10 minutes.

Sprinkle the caraway seeds over a lightly floured peel and place the shaped dough on top of it. Evenly distribute the pecorino, Gruyère, mozzarella, and
pepper over the dough.

With quick, jerking motions, slide the pie onto the stone. Broil for 3½ minutes under gas, until the top is bubbling and the crust is nicely charred but not burnt.

Using the peel, transfer the pizza to a tray or serving platter. Drape the prosciutto evenly over the pie, completely covering the surface. Slice and serve

(Reprinted from My Pizza by Jim Lahey with Rick Flaste. Copyright © 2012. Photos copyright © 2012 by Squire Fox. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, a division of Random House, Inc.)


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