Wednesday, October 29, 2008


It's that time again....Daring Bakers reveal day. Yea! The October challenge was pizza....from scratch....with an attempt at tossing thrown stuff, sorta. More on that in a moment.

Many thanks to our host, Rosa of Rosa's Yummy Yums, for choosing this challenge. The recipe was for Pizza Napoletana taken from Peter Reinhart's "The Bread Baker's Apprentice", with a minor modification.

just cheese, but soooo yummy!

I happen to own this book, so it was a treat to make something from it that I probably never would have tried. Well, maybe not never, but I can't imagine when. The Man is the resident pizza maker in the household. Actually, he's the resident chef. So, that was the other treat....I got to make something savory....for dinner. And it turned out well. It was quite yummy as a matter of fact. The only problem is that I just wasn't all that excited about this challenge, as I'm sure is apparent from the quality of the photos. My heart just wasn't in it. I couldn't really tell you why. I'm sure it's owing to a bunch of things, not least of which is work is really stressful right now. And since The Man makes pizza quite often, and truth be told, almost exactly the same way as this recipe -- cold fermentation and all -- this just didn't feel new. And here's the blasphemous much as I like pizza....I don't LUV it. Or even just love it. I know! Who doesn't go gaga over pizza?!?, I guess. But after all that....I really am glad I did this challenge. It sorta jump-started this desire to do more savory cooking, rather than just baking. So, thanks Rosa and Daring Bakers!

The recipe was great. It's very easy to make and even though it requires planning because it needs to sit in the refrigerator overnight, it's not labor intensive. It's a very wet dough, by design. And I'm not sure if other DBers had the same happen to them, but there are no photos of me tossing because it was virtually impossible to toss this dough. The moment I picked it up to lay it across my floured fists, it stretched very thin. It came out somewhat crispy on the bottom, but still chewy....even though it was thin. And I liked that. That's what made it different from The Man's. His is always super crispy. But after trying this recipe I realized I don't always like super crispy. So, it will be nice to throw this into the rotation.

As I stated above, there was one modification to Peter Reinhart's recipe for this challenge and that was the addition of 1 tablespoon of sugar. Since I have the book, I just followed the recipe in the book. John, from Eat4Fun, did so as well, but posted a comment on the DB forum mentioning the sugar. That's how I found out the challenge recipe was slightly different. So, my results and pictures and general impression of the recipe is of the original recipe without the sugar. I'm not sure how much it matters or the changes that occur. But I think next time I make this I will add the sugar so I can compare.

In the meantime, please try this recipe. And please check out other DB blogs and see how their's turned out!

my favorite: goat cheese, carmelized onions, mushrooms with a sauce of just olive oil, garlic and herbs

Basic Pizza Dough
Original recipe taken from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice by Peter Reinhart

Makes 6 pizza crusts, about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter.

4 1/2 cups all purpose flour, chilled
1 3/4 tsps 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 (40° F/4.5° C)
1 tbsp sugar
cornmeal for dusting

day one
Mix together the flour, salt and instant yeast in a big bowl (or in the bowl of your stand mixer). 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/10°-13° C.] Flour a work surface or counter. Line a jelly pan with baking paper/parchment. Lightly oil the paper. 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.] 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.] 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. Put the pan into the refrigerator and let the dough rest overnight or for up to thee 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 tablespooons 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.]

day two
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/1.3 cm thick and 5 inches/12.7 cm 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. 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/260° C). [NOTE: If you do not have a baking stone, then use the back of a jelly pan. Do not preheat the pan. Jen used a regular baking sheet, not the back of it.] 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. When the dough has the shape you want (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter - for a 6 ounces/180g 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. Lightly top it with sweet or savory toppings of your choice. 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. 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.


Maryanna said...

Great job. Your pizza looks delicious!

Lynn said...

I, too, own the cookbook, plus I own American Pie by the same author and had been making the recipe in that cookbook for years. Still, it was fun to do the challenge and I can see that you enjoyed yours, too. Your pizza looks great. Well done.

Jane said...

I too had the same issue with tossing the dough, it was virtually shaped when I put it over my knuckles. I got in two twirls and that was it. But oh was that pizza yummy. And I love the idea that I can make the dough over the weekend and then come home and make a quick pie.
Jane of