Wednesday, October 29, 2008

October Daring Bakers Challenge-- Pizza

Happy Half Birthday to my being a Daring Baker! What better way to celebrate being a Daring Baker than with a pizza party!

This month's challenge was hosted by Rosa. She was supposed to be cohosting with Sher, but unfortunately Sher passed away unexpectedly in July. Just 9 days before she died, she and Rosa had talked about what they would choose for the October challenge. Rosa decided to pay tribute to Sher by submitting Sher's recipe for this months challenge.

The rules for this challenge were simple. We were to make the dough with the provided recipe and we were to use both a sauce and toppings on the pizza. Our options for toppings were endless. We could have savory... we could have sweet. We could do both (which is what happened since the recipe is large enough to make six entire pizzas).

But the catch was this: We had to hand toss our pizza for at least 2 of the 6 crusts (and prove it with a photo!). I cracked up when I read that and then got sort of a queasy stomach thinking about it. How on earth do you toss a pizza crust like the professionals?

I actually don't usually eat pizza that is hand tossed. It grosses me out to think of the arm hair on the (usually) guy that is tossing it. You can't tell me that not a single hair will not make it into my pizza crust. And I've never seen a pizza guy wear gloves up to his elbows. So I usually opt out of pizzas made by other people (especially those with exceptionally hairy arms).

But for some reason, ingesting my own arm hair doesn't seem to bother me. So it was game-on.

So with all due respect, here is Sher's chosen recipe for our pizza dough.

Equipment: Stand mixer with paddle and dough hook attachments (optional, see recipe), cooking thermometer, baking sheet, parchment paper, cooking oil, plastic wrap, pizza peel/scraper, pizza stone or pan.

BASIC PIZZA DOUGH ~Original recipe taken from “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice” by Peter Reinhart

Makes 6 pizza crusts (about 9-12 inches in diameter).


4 1/2 Cups Unbleached high-gluten (%14) bread flour or all purpose flour, chilled
1 3/4 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Instant yeast
1/4 Cup Olive oil or vegetable oil (both optional, but it’s better with)
1 3/4 Cups Water, ice cold
1 Tb sugar -
Semolina/durum flour or cornmeal for dusting

Method: 1. Mix together the flour, salt and instant yeast in a big bowl (or in the bowl of your stand mixer).

2. Add the oil, sugar and cold water and mix well (with the help of a large wooden spoon or with the paddle attachment, on low speed) in order to form a sticky ball of dough.

On a clean surface, knead for about 5-7 minutes, until the dough is smooth and the ingredients are homogeneously distributed. If it is too wet, add a little flour (not too much, though) and if it is too dry add 1 or 2 teaspoons extra water.

NOTE: If you are using an electric mixer, switch to the dough hook and mix on medium speed for the same amount of time. The dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom of the bowl. If the dough is too wet, sprinkle in a little more flour, so that it clears the sides. If, on the contrary, it clears the bottom of the bowl, dribble in a teaspoon or two of cold water. The finished dough should be springy, elastic, and sticky, not just tacky, and register 50°-55° F.

3. Flour a work surface or counter. Line a jelly pan with baking paper/parchment. Lightly oil the paper.

4. With the help of a metal or plastic dough scraper, cut the dough into 6 equal pieces (or larger if you want to make larger pizzas).

NOTE: To avoid the dough from sticking to the scraper, dip the scraper into water between cuts

5. Sprinkle some flour over the dough. Make sure your hands are dry and then flour them.
Gently round each piece into a ball.
NOTE: If the dough sticks to your hands, then dip your hands into the flour again.

6. Transfer the dough balls to the lined jelly pan and mist them generously with spray oil. Slip the pan into plastic bag or enclose in plastic food wrap.

(I only have three because I cut the recipe in half)

7. Put the pan into the refrigerator and let the dough rest overnight or for up to three days.

NOTE: You can store the dough balls in a zippered freezer bag if you want to save some of the dough for any future baking. In that case, pour some oil(a few tablespoons only) in a medium bowl and dip each dough ball into the oil, so that it is completely covered in oil. Then put each ball into a separate bag. Store the bags in the freezer for no longer than 3 months. The day before you plan to make pizza, remember to transfer the dough balls from the freezer to the refrigerator.

8. On the day you plan to eat pizza, exactly 2 hours before you make it, remove the desired number of dough balls from the refrigerator. Dust the counter with flour and spray lightly with oil. Place the dough balls on a floured surface and sprinkle them with flour. Dust your hands with flour and delicately press the dough into disks about 1/2 inch thick and 5 inches in diameter. Sprinkle with flour and mist with oil. Loosely cover the dough rounds with plastic wrap and then allow to rest for 2 hours.

9. At least 45 minutes before making the pizza, place a baking stone on the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven as hot as possible (500° F)

NOTE: If you do not have a baking stone, then use the back of a jelly pan. Do not preheat the pan.

10. Generously sprinkle the back of a jelly pan with semolina/durum flour or cornmeal. Flour your hands (palms, backs and knuckles). Take 1 piece of dough by lifting it with a pastry scraper. Lay the dough across your fists in a very delicate way and carefully stretch it by bouncing it in a circular motion on your hands, and by giving it a little stretch with each bounce. Once the dough has expanded outward, move to a full toss.

NOTE: Make only one pizza at a time.

During the tossing process, if the dough tends to stick to your hands, lay it down on the floured counter and reflour your hands, then continue the tossing and shaping. In case you would be having trouble tossing the dough or if the dough never wants to expand and always springs back, let it rest for approximately 5-20 minutes in order for the gluten to relax fully, then try again.

You can also resort to using a rolling pin, although it isn’t as effective as the toss method.

11. When the dough has the shape you want (about 9-12 inches in diameter - for a 6 ounces piece of dough), place it on the back of the jelly pan, making sure there is enough semolina/durum flour or cornmeal to allow it to slide and not stick to the pan.

12. Lightly top it with sweet or savory toppings of your choice.
We made a basic half-cheese, half-pepperoni for one pizza:

One berry pizza (the crust was heavenly! Brushed first with 2 tbsp of melted butter and sprinkled with 2 tbsp of cinnamon sugar before being baked and then topping the cooled crust with Marscapone Cheese, mixed with some lemon juice/zest and heavy whipping cream, and then topping THAT with berries and then sprinkled with another 2 tbsp of cinnamon sugar. Whew. How's that for a run on sentence?):

here is the crust:

And Apple Pie Calzones:

13. Slide the garnished pizza onto the stone in the oven or bake directly on the jelly pan. Close the door and bake for about 5-8 minutes.

NOTE: After 2 minutes baking, take a peek. For an even baking, rotate 180°.

If the top gets done before the bottom, you will need to move the stone or jelly pane to a lower shelf before the next round. On the contrary, if the bottom crisps before the cheese caramelizes, then you will need to raise the stone or jelly.

14. Take the pizza out of the oven and transfer it to a cutting board or your plate. In order to allow the cheese to set a little, wait 3-5 minutes before slicing or serving.

NOTE ON SAUCE: Your sauce should not be too thick as it will thicken in the hot oven. Less is more but make the less truly more by using quality ingredients.

Be sure to check out all of the other Daring Bakers Creations!


floreksa said...

I don't think I'll ever be able to eat pizza again.... "arm hair pizza" LMAO. I never, ever thought of that and now I ALWAYS will.


I'm so upset that my kitchen was still in pieces and wasn't able to do this one on time. Hopefully I'll be able to complete within the next week or 2.

Megan said...

Your crust looks better then my crust. It was a great challenge but I must try a berry pizza, minus the arm hair thank you very much! LOL

Lorrie said...

nice tossing skilss! your pizza looks delicious and i love your pizza pockets!

Chocolate Shavings said...

Great tossing skills! I agree about the arm hair though - best not to think about that though!

Lynn said...

I love the pictures of you and your husband tossing the pizzas. Your sweet pizza looks great.

Oh my! Apple pie! said...

Great pics!
I love your pizza's that fruit looks sooo good!

CookiePie said...

Congrats on the successful tossing!! And all of your creations sound fantastic -- that berry pizza, yum!

marye said...

Nice job! It looks fantastic. :)

MamaDotz said...

Michele, yet again you've made me hungry!!! Thanks for all the great ideas (crafts AND food)! You're amazing and I'm addicted to your blog. Really! Totally addicted to checking it and sharing it with people over at school. Here's to you....

Hugs ~ Vicki

Anonymous said...

Hmmmmm...arm hair pizza, not sure about that one! Nice job on the pizzas, though, sans arm hair.

marion said...

I've also cut the recipe in half but your pizza dough looks really great ! And you're a master at tossing ;)

Debyi said...

Awesome tossing! Your berry pizza looks great.