Y’all. I apologize profusely for not getting this recipe to you before now. This is one of my favorites. I’m a pitiful excuse for a friend. I know. Forgive me and start the dough as soon as you finish this post. Also? The musical guests for our holiday prep this year, the new Avett Brothers album and The Decemberists. They’re on continuous repeat at my house, already. (I can name all the Thanksgivings by the music I listened to while I prepped. Every holiday has a homemade soundtrack. Am I the only one? It’s a sickness, I’m sure.)
This may sound crazy, but the day before Thanksgiving is one of my favorite days of the year. I LOVE Thanksgiving day, too, of course, but something about the anticipation, the preparation, and table setting makes me so happy. West Elm asked me to participate in their Gather Around the Table campaign this year and since I’m crazy over their products and crazy over gathering around the table, it seemed like a match made in heaven!
So, here’s how we do the day before the holiday food.
First rule? No holiday food. You’re about to eat your weight in turkey and mashed potatoes and pecan pie.
So, I almost always make a big pot of soup, usually seafood (just like my shrimp boil, but usually without the corn on the cob), (but we’ve done Italian Sub Soup, Cheeseburger Soup, or even Cheese Tortellini), and pizza bianca, with a festive drink and a big salad. I get the dough and the soup going early in the day and then continue with my holiday meal prep.
Here in the South, it’s usually nice enough to dine outside, especially with the outdoor fireplace blazing!
It’s the perfect little break from all the holiday prep and the perfect way to give yourself a boost in energy for the cooking to come.
When I think about table setting, I am a girl with an endless appetite for variety. I don’t think I’ve ever set the exact same table twice. And I love mixing patterns and textures, natural items with glitzy holiday pieces, old and new—you name it, I’ll mix it. I’m just as inspired by a table that looks like you just threw together as I am a table set with perfect matching china.
For this pre-holiday table, I walked outside, picked up pine cones, acorns, snatched a few maple branches and stole some pumpkins from the front porch.
(And I’ll just reset this table for the teens for Thanksgiving day, so none of the pretty things go to waste!)
Then, from my colorful supply of West Elm table top items, I gathered a few mixed napkins and my favorite amber wine glasses. (You can have them monogrammed, btw, which makes Southerners VERY happy! They make great wedding gifts, too!) I also LOVE their cutting and cheese boards. I have several different sizes and have given them away as gifts many times.
But the star of the show today is the pizza stone, the perfect piece to cook and serve pizza bianca with our Leek and Potato Soup (recipe coming soon!).
For the Dough:
3 1/2 cups of flour (I usually start with 3 cups and then add more flour as needed to make a dough that isn’t sticky)
1/3 cup olive oil
1 tsp. salt
1 T. sugar
1 cup of cold water
1 package of yeast
In a standard mixer (fitted with a dough hook if possible), (preferably a kitchen aid standing mixer so it can do all the work), add 3 cups of flour, the yeast, oil, salt, and sugar. Slowly add the water, until all the flour is incorporated. Mix the dough for 2-3 minutes or until the flour all pulls away from the side of the bowl. The dough will most likely be sticky to the touch. Slowly add more flour, (probably another 1/2 cup but potentially up to 3/4 cup) and continue to mix, until the flour is all incorporated and the dough is no longer sticky at all. Mix for a total of 8 minutes. Place the dough in a well oiled bowl and let rise until it doubles in size. My oven has a proofing setting (about 170 degrees) so I always proof my breads in the oven. It significantly shortens the rising time but at least find the warmest spot in your kitchen, free from drafts, and let rise a couple of hours. I cover my dough bowl with a damp flour sac and then it rise for a couple of hours, until it’s doubled in size.
Then, you divide the dough in half and form each dough ball into a crust. This is a little tricky, in my humble opinion. If you use a rolling pin to roll it out, then you don’t get the taller outer edges. So, I take my time and do this part by hand, leaving the outer lip a little higher, so that honey and other ingredients aren’t spilling over the edge. I use a liberal amount of flour to roll it out and then make sure you use a very liberal amount of corn meal underneath the crust so that it doesn’t stick to the pizza peel.
For Pizza Bianca: Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with course salt and dried thyme.
Here’s what mine looked like after the drizzle and sprinkle.
Note the ever functional and beautiful pizza stone, WITH HANDLES, from West Elm. I love it so much for making the transfer so easy and the crust so tasty!
Bake at 475-500 for about 15 minutes, until lightly brown on top.
(The stone would make a great Christmas or wedding gift, along with the pizza dough recipe and some sea salt and cute dishtowels!)
Also, enjoy 20% off all West Elm tabletop until November 26!
Full disclosure: This article is sponsored by West Elm but all opinions expressed are mine and mine alone!
Some things on my wishlist:
What do you eat the day before Thanksgiving? I’m dying to know!!