Catching up (at last!): Wild Sullivan Street Potato Pizza (BBB April 2008)

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BBB: Let's Keep Baking summary: recipe for Wild Potato Pizza; based(ish) on the recipe for Sullivan Street Potato Pizza in “Artisan Baking Across America” by Maggie Glezer; with a few extras; altering the dough recipe to use wild yeast instead of commercial yeast; realizing after the fact that the dough wasn’t nearly slack enough; catching up; it LOOKS good; information about Bookmarked Recipes and Bread Baking Babes; new addition;

Bookmarked Recipes - last Sunday of the MonthBookmarked Recipes: Sullivan Street Potato Pizza

I thought that I should probably justify my invitation to become a BBBabe by actually making a few more of the recipes they’ve chosen over the years. Of course, it will take me ages to work my way through them all.
– me, Catching up in 2010: Royal Crown’s Tortano (BBB February 2008)
It’s a little embarrassing; my well-meant promise in 2010 to bake all the previous BBBabe breads still haunts me….
– me, Swirling Around to Catch Up (BBB July 2019)

Bread Baking Babes (BBB): Sullivan Street Potato Pizza

I can’t believe that I haven’t even noticed the “Hi-Rise Corn Bread” OR the “Sullivan Street Potato Pizza” in Glezer’s book. I got stuck at “Acme’s Rustic Baguettes” in boule shape – we LOVE that bread! I really should look through the rest of the book, shouldn’t I?
Your potato pizza looks fabulous!
– me, commenting on Sher’s (What Did You Eat?) post in April 2008

Procrastination, let’s play Procrastination!!

I’ve been meaning and meaning to make this pizza! Really I have. Ever since getting Maggie Glezer’s wonderful book “Artisan Bread Across America” in… let me just look….

In 2001!!! T gave it to me for Christmas 2001!

I think that Maggie Glezer’s book was the second of the serious bread books I was given. I remember staring longingly at the Sullivan Street Potato Pizza photo and deciding that as soon as it was summer, we’d make it.

I was reminded about that potato pizza recently when I read Jim Lahey’s book “The Sullivan Street Bakery Cookbook”. (Did I say “recently”? :lalala: I read it – a library copy – in August 2020. Reading it was part of my pandemic bread book reading project….) But Jim Lahey doesn’t include his potato pizza in his book. It was the “Sullivan Street Bakery” that jogged my memory that I hadn’t made the BBB version of the Sullivan Street Bakery Potato pizza that appears in Maggie Glezer’s book.

(I have just gotten Jim Lahey’s book “my bread” out of the library; I peeked ahead to see that he includes his recipe for Potato Pizza there. I can’t wait to read the rest of the book!)

Visiting some bakeries [in Rome] was like stepping back in time by a few hundred . . . or thousand years. Conditions were primitive. The bakers were pretty weird. And the bread was unworldly. There was pizza bianca alla romana, for instance — a six foot long flat plank of bread which always gave me a distinct feeling of unease. (At first glance it looks altogether too much like a crocodile’s back emerging from a river). But hot out of the oven and smelling piney and fragrant with fresh rosemary and olive oil, it was magnificent.
– Jim Lahey, The Sullivan Street Bakery Cookbook, p.14
Potato pizza is another Italian classic you don’t see very often in the United States. While my renditin is pretty traditional, I soak the potatoes in salted water first, which actually extracts about 20 percent of their moisture. That causes them to cook more quickly and makes them firmer.
– Jim Lahey, ‘Pizza Patate • Potato Pizza’, My Bread, p.129
Sullivan Street Bakery is named for its street in the SoHo section of New York City. The bakery is well known for its pizza bianca, but my favorite is this potato pizza. It is very unlike a traditional pizza, more like a very thin-crusted tart heaped with golden waves of potatoes, onions, rosemary, and olive oil.
– Maggie Glezer, ‘Sullivan Street Potato Pizza’, Artisan Baking Across America, p.156

At last the day for us to make potato pizza came. Here is why:

A few weeks ago, between a rehearsal and a concert, I recently shared a fabulous Pizza Bianca with friends and colleagues at a restaurant in the north of Toronto. When I got home, I couldn’t stop raving about the pizza. We decided that we HAD to make pizza bianca for dinner the next day.

Potato Pizza

(The little black creature in the background of the above photo had just arrived from Toronto Rescue Cats and was happily exploring the “mansion”, after spending large sections of the first year of her life in very small quarters.)

Naturally (well, naturally for us), we would use several different recipes and ideas for making our pizza bianca.

I looked in my voluminous diary from our bicycle trip to France in 1998 and am amazed that I neglected to note details of the truly fabulous pizza bianca we had in Quillan when stopping there for one night on our way to Perpignan. (I also neglected to note the horrifyingly mixed burnt orange – Hallowe’en pumpkin orange, from a Hallowe’en pumpkin that had been burning a candle for a couple of hours – shag carpetting and matching nubbly bedspread in the hotel we stayed in. As I recall, we were a little afraid to take off our shoes to walk on the carpet and very careful to remove the bedspread and hang it on a chair. It was probably clean; it just looked really frightening. I’m so sad that I have zero recollection of the wall paper in that room. It must have been just as horrifying as the carpet.

Wednesday 14 October 1998 QUILLAN We arrived here at 4:00 yesterday. It’s not the most thrilling place. Pretty enough to live in, I guess, but doesn’t have that much to offer the traveller.
      All the hotels are on the busy main road and naturally, the tourist office didn’t know that one of tme was closed for the holidays (even though it is only half a block away.
      The patron of the Terminus hotel was away until 5:30 so we hung around, doing a little riding and stopping at a pizza truck, equipped with its own wood buring oven and had a small pizza to while away the time.
      At last we got in and have an adequate room with extremely soft beds. The restaurant to this hotel was not open last night so we were undisturbed by noises that would certainly have been going on last night because the restaurant is directly below the room.
– me, diary of our France bicycle trip, 1998

We still talk about that pizza truck and its proprietor. Both were wonderful. The fellow had installed a woodfire oven in the truck!! I cannot believe I didn’t rave about them in the diary! (Maybe I was overwhelmed by the scary orangeness of our hotel room that night….)

I wish I could remember exactly what the topping was – perhaps it was just olive oil and cheese and basil? Whatever it was, the fellow’s wood-fired pizza was delicious. Indeed, it was the best food we had in Quillan. (That evening for dinner, two of the only three restaurants were closed; we had little choice. The restaurant that was open was very B-flat. Very. But that’s a whole other story.)

In her book “The Italian Baker”, Carol Field calls for only ‘best-quality olive oil’, thinly sliced garlic, fresh rosemary and pepper on her Pizza Bianca topping. She suggests whipping cream, gorgonzola, and thyme for one of her topping for Gorgonzola Focaccia (not exactly pizza but included in the Pizza and Focaccia chapter). She also has a recipe for ‘Focaccia di Patate e Cipolle’, where the dough is made with mashed potatoes, and the topping is onions, Kalamata olives, and capers. In “Local Breads” by Daniel Leader, there is a recipe for ‘Genzano Potato Pizza Pizza allee patate di Genzano‘ that, like Jim Lahey’s Sullivan Street Bakery Potato Pizza, calls for potatoes (“a boldly flavored variety, such as Yellow Finn or Yukon Gold”), olive oil, onion, fresh rosemary, and seasalt. Daniel Leader wrote: I strolled into Forno a Legna da Sergio. […] Sergio Bocchini […] had successfully lobbied for the IGP designation. Now only bakers wihin the city limits could claim that they made real pane di Genzano […] It was lunchtime when I left Forno al Legna da Sergio. The baker’s wife handed me a piece of potato topped pizza, fragrant with rosemary and dripping with olive oil. […] The bakers in Genzano were probably the least professionally equipped of any of the bakeries I’ve seen in Europe. […] But every baker used an electric mixer, most often an Italian-made Peitroberto, to knead the extremely wet dough. with such a high proportion of water, this dough requires long and vigorous kneading to develop the gluten. […] it is possible to knead this dough by hand, but it takes courage, strength, and patience. “The Italian American Cookbook” by John and Galina Mariani has a recipe calling for ham, potatoes, and fontina cheese. Ken Forkish doesn’t suggest using white or yukon gold potatoes in his book, “Flour Water Salt Yeast”, but he has a recipe for Sweet Potato and Pear Pizza (sliced sweet potato, olive oil, seasalt, sliced pear, shaved Pecorino, cilantro, grated fresh ginger, red chilies). In “Piano Piano Pieno” by Susan McKenna Grant, there is a recipe for a Potato, Cabbage, and Cheese Pie: potatoes ‘any kind will do’, Savoy cabbage leaves, garlic, fontina ‘or any other good melting cheese’, Parmesan, and optional poppy or cumin seeds. Susan McKenna Grant calls for the base of the pie to be her pizza dough.

One of the things I like about Susan McKenna Grant’s pizza recipe is her advice about the toppings: “[L]et your imagination be your guide […] Have fun and don’t forget that the final flourish should always be that drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.”

So many options!!

After reading the topping ingredients in the BBB April 2008 recipe (from Maggie Glezer’s book), T said he really wanted to add béchamel and bacon to the potatoes.

Who am I to say no to béchamel? Or to bacon? In fact, why would anyone say no?

Catching Up in 2023: BBB April 2008

Here is the April 2008 BBB recipe and here is what we did to it:

Wild Potato Pizza
adapted from many and various recipes including the one for Sullivan Street Potato Pizza in “Artisan Baking Across America” by Maggie Glezer

Sullivan Street Bakery is named for its street in the SoHo section of New York City. The bakery is well known for its pizza bianca, but my favorite is this potato pizza. It is very unlike a traditional pizza, more like a very thin-crusted tart heaped with golden waves of potatoes, onions, rosemary, and olive oil.
– Maggie Glezer, ‘Sullivan Street Potato Pizza’, Artisan Baking Across America

makes one large pizza (roughly 35cm across)


  • béchamel sauce (milk, olive oil, onion, flour, bay leaf, seasalt)
  • russet potatoes (washed but unpeeled)
  • onion, thinly cut in half moons
  • mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
  • bacon, chopped coarsely
  • fresh rosemary leaves
  • olive oil (optional, to drizzle on the crust, after the pizza is sliced)
  1. béchamel
    • Finely chop the onion. Pour milk into a small pot. Add a quarter of an onion and a bay leaf. Heat the milk just until it is smiling. Remove from heat and allow to steep for about 15 minutes. Set aside.
    • béchamel
      • Finely chop the onion. Pour milk into a small pot. Add a quarter of an onion and a bay leaf. Heat the milk just until it is smiling. Remove from heat and allow to steep for about 15 minutes. Set aside.
      • Heat olive oil in a frying pan. Add the rest of the onion (chopped) to the oil. Sauté onions til soft and just beginning to turn golden.
      • Add flour and stir with a wooden spoon to get rid of lumps.
      • Add milk (remove the bay leaf if you want) and seasalt; cook til sauce is the right thickness. This can be done a few hours before preparing the pizza. Set aside, covered, until it is time to cook the pizza.
    • potatoes About 20 minutes before cooking the pizza: Using a very sharp knife (or a mandoline), slice the potatoes into very thin rounds. Toss the potato slices with a small amount of salt and put them into a colander placed on top of a bowl to drain for 15 minutes. Maggie Glezer says “Toss them with a sprinkling of salt and let them exude their liquid for about 15 minutes. Gently squeeze them dry in a colander to release most of their liquid (the slices will clump together).” We found that there was no need to squeeze the potatoes.

      Alternatively, you can use Tanna’s method:
      Toss the potato slices with salt and allow 10 minutes for the salt to pull out their water. I then sandwiched the slices between two towels to dry them which I believe removed salt with the water.
      – Tanna, in message to BBBabes in April 2008

    • Put the topping together: Just before putting the pizza into the hot oven, or onto a hot stone in the barbecue, slather the shaped dough with béchamel sauce. Evenly distribute the cheese, onion half moon slices, bacon, and rosemary over top.


Wild yeast vs commercial yeast: The BBB recipe calls for using commercial yeast. But because we have been making wild yeast bread almost exclusively since July 2017, I had to use it. Very very very very occasionally, if I’ve forgotten to prepare the starter, I’ll use commercial yeast. (Bread made at home with commercial yeast still tastes pretty darn good. But it just doesn’t taste quite as good as bread made with our Jane Mason 100% whole wheat starter.) There is something really magical about making bread with only flour, water, salt, olive oil, milk, honey and time. Then there is the flavour. It just tastes better!

What about the dough? Here is our recipe for yeasted pizza dough. I used our Jane Mason starter and our recipe for wild pita to make the dough. But yeasted dough would probably work too. It’s a good idea to make sure the dough is on the slack side, so it will be nice and thin. In spite of what Maggie Glezer says, a stand mixer is not required. Just about 3 or 4 sessions of stretching and folding will do the trick.
The dough is unusual but not difficult to make. It starts out as a batter but is beaten in a stand mixer into very fluid dough, which bakes into a very thin and bubbly crust.
– Maggie Glezer, Artisan Bread Across America

We don’t have a stand mixer. Unless you consider me to be the stand mixer, because I stand up while I’m mixing. This is how I hand knead now:
Kneading: Use one of your hands to squoosh wet dough together; use the other hand to steady the bowl – this way you always have a clean hand. At first the dough might be a bit messy and seem like it’s coming apart. Persevere. Suddenly, it will seem more like dough than weirdly folded, slimy glop. Keep folding it over onto itself until it is relatively smooth. Cover the bowl with a plate and leave to rest for about 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, repeat this step 2 or 3 more times. Then, cover the bowl with a plate and leave to rest in a draught-free area until the dough has almost doubled, when it will be ready to shape.
These are the dough ingredients I used:
Leavener (mixed night before)

  • spoonful (~15 grams) Jane Mason whole wheat starter from the fridge
  • 50 grams whole wheat flour
  • 50 grams water

Dough (mixed on day of)

  • 245 grams unbleached “no additives” all-purpose flour
  • 5 grams wheat germ
  • 156 grams water, at body temperature
  • 15 grams extra virgin olive oil
  • all of the leavener from above (when it’s floating)
  • 5 grams sea salt + 10 grams water

Next time, I’ll add more water, to be more in keeping with Jim Lahey’s recipe. His dough hydration is a whopping 109%!! Now THAT’s slack. :lalala: I’m not sure that I’m prepared to go the full distance to add 275 grams water to the final dough. But I’ll try going to 100% hydration (as much as we did with Nan-e-Barberi Bread. And that is already insanely high, isn’t it?) by adding 220 grams water when mixing and then adding 30 grams with the salt. Remind me to report.
If kneading in the bowl doesn’t seem to be working, I’ll use the Richard Bertinet method:
Using both hands on either side of the dough and thumbs resting on the top in the center, lift it up and flip it over in the air before plopping it back down on the board. Fold the dough in half away from you as you plop the dough down. Keep repeating until the dough is smooth. Every so often, use the dough scraper to clean the board. Stretching the dough is desired on the turns. But this won’t start happening right away. (Please look at this video for clarification.)
– me, Barbari Bread: hand-kneading fun (BBB June 2013)

Potatoes: The BBB recipe calls for Yukon Gold potatoes. We used Russets because that’s what we have on hand. But, as long as they’re baking potatoes, it probably doesn’t matter which is used for this pizza. We’ve found that we prefer Russets, both for their flavour and their price. They really are the best value. Not to mention (oh wait, here I am mentioning it after all), whenever we have Yukon Gold potatoes, we cannot NOT think of the first time we tried them, way back in the last century, at the Royal Winter Fair. There was a sign on the counter extolling the virtues and health benefits of Yukon Gold potatoes. It said something along the lines of, “Because of their yellow colour, you don’t have to add butter.” {snort} Who did they think they were kidding?!

to béchamel, or not to béchamel: Next time, even though we really thought it would be a good addition, it turns out that even we would say no to béchamel in this case. That’s right. We’d be inclined to omit the béchamel. It didn’t really add anything.

cheese: Next time, we’ll try using fontina cheese. And maybe a scattering of grated pecorino.

bacon: The BBB recipe did not include bacon. None of the recipes for the Sullivan Street Potato Pizza include bacon. But we really wanted bacon. Because we’re, well, you know. :lalala: Naturally, if you want the pizza to be vegetarian, omit the bacon. But if you are serving the pizza to omnivorous people, add bacon. Definitely. :-) :-)

adding complexity: We found that, while the pizza was very good, it was a little one dimensional; it needed an acid balance. Next time, we would add capers and chili peppers.


Catching Up in 2023: BBB April 2008

The pizza was delicious. And it looked beautiful. We loved that the potatoes got done perfectly, without any par-cooking. We’ll definitely try this again.

But maybe, to add a little complexity, we’ll throw on a big stack of young arugula leaves just after the pizza has finished cooking. (We were going to do that this time round, but our garden arugula isn’t ready yet and the grocery store arugula looked rather sad.)

Hmmm. It just occurred to me: because I didn’t make insanely slack dough for the crust, does that mean I haven’t yet completed the BBB April 2008 project?

Catching Up in 2023: BBB April 2008

Bread Baking Babes BBB: Let's Get BakingSullivan Street Potato Pizza

Tanna hosted April 2008’s Bread Baking Babes’ project. She wrote:

After such a great conquest of all those crocs my Babes, I say we need a Pizza Party!! Bring ’em on. And let’s don’t forget the beer and wine. Misc. drinks allowed.
This recipe is for two pizzas. I hope everybody tries one with the topping of potatoes as given here. I can just about promise you will be pleasantly surprise. When I did this sometime late last summer, I thought the potatoes changed and became almost cheese like. Feel free to go crazy with topping on the second crust.
– Tanna, excerpt of message to BBBabes, April 2008

For complete details about the April 2008 recipe, the BBB and how to become a BBBuddy, please read:

Please take a look at the other BBBabes’ August 2008 Sullivan Street Potato Pizzas:

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Bookmarked Recipes - monthly Bookmarked Recipes Some time ago, Ruth (Ruth’s Kitchen Experiments) created this event to urge herself (and everyone else) to actually make the several recipes they have bookmarked in various books, magazines and internet pages. For a time, Jacqueline (Tinned Tomatoes) took over hosting the event. Because she is vegetarian, she asked that submitted recipes be vegetarian OR that alternatives be given for how to make the dish vegetarian.

Ha. Speaking of “who would say no to bacon?”: above is my answer. If you are vegetarian, please leave it out!

However, “Bookmarked Recipes”, is no longer officially happening. You might like to look at previous bookmarked recipes:


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1 response to “Catching up (at last!): Wild Sullivan Street Potato Pizza (BBB April 2008)

  1. Kelly (A Messy Kitchen)

    Oh yum! There was a potato pizza I used to love from California pizza kitchen, a rosemary, chicken and potato pizza. I’d totally try this. The arugula sounds like a great addition!

    edit 25 July 2023, 07:44: Your California Pizza kitchen pizza sounds great, Kelly. But then, how can anyone go wrong with rosemary and potato? I wish I could take credit for the arugula idea. We learned about it from a fabulous take-out (tiny) pizza place not far from us (sadly the shop has now closed permanently, like so many independent places since Covid). Their pizzas were thin crust, with 2 or 3 toppings only and just as the pizza came out of the oven, they would cover the pizza with a mound of arugula leaves. It was SO good. – Elizabeth


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