leek and fennel pizza pie
This leek and fennel pizza pie really is the most basic of pizzas. It’s a pizza blanca, which is just a cheesy white sauce, leeks and fennel on a thick pizza dough base. I quite like its rustic stylings and it’s a great way to use up vegetables that are holding up a resistance at the fridge. My little subordinates are leek and fennel, two of my all time favourite veg but you could really use any combo. Broccoli and peas would be wonderful, as would mushrooms and leeks. Just pick your favourites.
A pizza blanca is basically a pizza that uses a white cheesy sauce instead of a tomato sauce but I’m taking it a stage further by stirring the pre-sauteed vegetable topping into the sauce before laying it on top of the base so it’s almost a pie filling although I’m using a very low sauce to filling ratio.
for the pizza base
- 500g strong white flour
- 100g rye flour I’m using the amazing Bacheldre Stoneground Rye Flour from Sous Chef but just use 600g white flour if you don’t have rye
- 1 sachet (7g) fast-action dried yeast
- one teaspoon (7g) salt
- 1 teaspoon olive oil (plus more for folding and kneading)
- 450ml water
for the white sauce
- 250ml milk
- 25g butter
- 25g plain flour
- 100g finely grated cheese – I’m using a strong cheddar but a parmesan would also be nice
for the pizza topping
- 1 medium leek – finely sliced
- 1/2 fennel – finely sliced
- 2 cloves of garlic – crushed
- fresh or dried oregano
Start with the pizza dough which can be made in advance and kept in the fridge for 24 hours (in fact is will taste better!)
Place all the ingredients into a large bowl or plastic container with a lid and bring together. Knead in the bowl for a few minutes just to ensure everything is combined and then place the lid on, or cover the bowl in cling film and set aside for 30 mins.
stretch and fold
After 30 mins, oil your hands really well and ‘stretch and fold’ the dough 4 times, pulling up from the top side of the container and folding over. Turn the container 1/4 turn and stretch again and repeat. (Think of the bowl or container as a compass with a north, east, south and west point.) Set aside for another 30 mins.
Repeat this 3 times then set aside for at least one hour or until the dough is doubles in size. Knock back the dough and form it into a tight ball. It can now go into the fridge until you’re ready to cook with it. It will expand over time but simple knock it back again before you shape it into a pizza.
Ready to cook
Pre-heat the oven to 200C
When you’re ready, roll or stretch you pizza dough into a pizza shape. Go for round, or oblong. If you’re using a pizza stone then lay it onto that. Set it aside whilst you make the topping.
Place all the ingredients for the cheesy sauce into a pan and gently heat it. Stir it constantly whilst it thickens. It should take about 5-8 minutes to become a luscious thick sauce. Stir in the grated cheese and set aside.
In a pan, gently sauté the leeks and fennel in a little butter and olive oil until soft, stir in the garlic and oregano halfway through – this should take about 6 minutes.
Stir the soft vegetables into the sauce and now pour the sauce into the centre of the pizza dough. Spread it around the dough leaving a generous crust free of sauce all the way around.
Bake for 20 mins or until the pizza is beginning to brown all over.
Eat and of course, enjoy!