Happily Ever After: or so ends the tale of so many kitchen accidents, this story of a batch of past-prime Jim Lahey pizza dough being no exception.
Once upon a time, an avid admirer of the Lahey pizza recipe opened her fridge to discover two rounds of several-days old dough, their plastic-wrapped seams bursting with nubs of desiccating dough. Not wanting to see the dough go to waste, the girl began experimenting, first in the form of focaccia. After letting the two rounds of dough rest briefly in a well-oiled 8×8-inch pan, she stretched it gently, using all ten fingers to create dimples, then sprinkled the surface with sea salt and rosemary. In no time the dough, with oil pooling in its myriad craters, began looking like a pretty decent focaccia, and it ended up baking off even more beautifully. Later that evening, the girl split the focaccia lengthwise and served roasted red pepper and herbed goat cheese sandwiches to some friends, none of whom would have suspected they had a batch of tired pizza dough to thank for their delectable dinner.
And that’s just the beginning of this tale’s happy ending. About a week later, the girl visited her family in CT, where the familiar sight of days-old pizza dough in her mother’s basement fridge — it turns out her mother’s planning is sometimes just as poor as hers — sent the girl scouring for other leftovers. When she found some caramelized onions, a tub of salt-packed anchovies, and a jar of olives, an impromptu pissaladière began to materialize.
Before too long, the girl and her family found themselves tucking into a Provençal-style lunch on a glorious spring day. And this is where the ending of the happy tale gets even happier: The sight of the golden, two-inch tall, anchovy-and-olive-topped southern French tart inspired the girl’s mother, never before seen to day drink, to open a bottle of champagne. And then her abstemious stepfather not only indulged in a beer, but also a glass of the bubbly while he dined. And then her brother-in-law declared the creation the best pizza derrière he’s ever tasted. And then, with full bellies and without any of the little cubs so much as noticing, they all fell into the most blissful afternoon snooze. Briefly anyway. And that, my friends, is where this happy tale finally ends.
Those of you who have made the Lahey pizza recipe understand the issue with the dough: the full recipe yields six pizzas and can be stored in the fridge for three days, after which time the dough’s performance begins to suffer. Somehow impromptu plans with friends or simply poor planning on my part always interferes with my making the pizza three nights in a row. And while the past-prime dough certainly can still be made into quite delicious pizza, it seems to do better in other incarnations, such as focaccia, pissaladière, or whatever your imaginative hearts desire.
For those of you who haven’t made the Jim Lahey pizza dough, I highly recommend trying it. It’s really one of my favorite recipes and while it takes some planning — the dough rises for about 18 hours — the dough takes five minutes to prepare, so if you mix it up before going to be one night, your dough will be ready for dinner the following evening. Also, I am partial to tipo 00 flour if you can get your hands on some.
1. Preheat oven to 425ºF. Drizzle about 2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a 9×13-inch (for three rounds of dough) or 8×8-inch (for two rounds of dough) baking dish. Plop rounds of dough in pan and let rest for 20 minutes.
2. Meanwhile prepare your toppings: pit and slice the olives; filet the anchovies (if using salt-packed); caramelize the onions (if you haven’t already done so); remove thyme leaves from stems.
3. Gently stretch the dough so that it fills up the pan. Top the dough with a hefty layer of caramelized onions. Crisscross anchovies over top. Scatter olives overtop. Sprinkle thyme leaves overtop. Bake for 15 minutes. Rotate pan and bake for an additional 5 to 10 minutes or until underside is golden. Transfer to a board. Let cool briefly before cutting.
2 to 3 portions of the Lahey pizza dough
sea salt, something like Maldon or Fleur de Sel
8×8-inch or 9×9-inch pan
1. Preheat oven to 450ºF. Drizzle about 2 to 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a 9×13-inch (for three rounds of dough) or 8×8-inch (for two rounds of dough) baking dish. Plop rounds of dough in pan and let rest for 20 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, mince a few tablespoons of rosemary.
3. Using all ten fingers to create dimples in the dough, stretch the dough so that it fills up the pan. Drizzle with more olive oil (a tablespoon or two). Sprinkle minced rosemary overtop. Sprinkle sea salt over top. Bake for 15 minutes. Rotate pan and bake for an additional 5 to 10 minutes or until underside is golden. Transfer to a board. Let cool briefly before cutting.