Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Daring Pizza

It's that time again, ya'all. No, not time for fried squirrel and banjo pickin'. Time for the October Daring Baker's Challenge!

This month's host was Rosa, of Rosa's Yummy Yums. She did a lovely job hosting this month and presented us with DB's first ever pizza dough recipe! Selected from “The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering The Art of Extraordinary Bread” by Peter Reinhart, the recipe was a thin crust pizza dough, using a cold fermentation technique. Our real challenge though, was to toss our pizzas like real pizzaiolos - and capture on film the hilarious aftermath.

Pizza is one of Mr. TA's all time favorite foods, so I've made pizza at home several times before, using all different types of recipes for the dough. This one seemed a little pretentious at first, what with all the chilling and the resting, and the blah, blah, blah. But, you know, it really made a difference. This was, by far, the best pizza dough recipe I've ever used. This will henceforth be my go-to recipe for making MR. TA his favorite meal. It was perfectly thin, with great flavor. Crispy and chewy, supporting the toppings ideally but without being doughy. This really is the recipe for pizza dough if you're a thin crust pizza lover. And if you prefer Domino's or whatever...then you're gross. I'm just sayin...

C'mon. Check out that crust. Tell me you don't love it.

Well, after thoroughly dousing my kitchen floor with flour and cornmeal, I succeeded in my task. Mr. TA took the picture of my throwing dough around my kitchen, refusing to shut off the flash (whatev.) like a big pain, and I almost speared it on this giant Indian paper star I have hanging from the skylight, but it ended up turning out OK.

That is, if you discount the deer-in-the-headlights look I have. Apparently my pizza was threatening to attack me or some BS. (My debut on my own blog and I look like a dumbass...whoooo) I don't know...

I used three of the six dough balls I made. Each dough ball made a ten inch pizza, more than enough for Mr. TA and I. The first one I made was Mr. TA's favorite, Margherita. Just a simple marinara sauce, topped with whole milk mozzarella, sliced tomato and fresh basil after coming out of the oven. Drizzle with a little high-quality olive oil, and a sprinkle of kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper and you've got heaven on dough.

The second pizza was my favorite, pepperoni with mozzarella and sharp cheddar with a healthy smattering of raw onion. Oh yeah, babe. That's some pizza. This one actually reminded me of a pizza I had in Costa Rica, straight out of a giant clay, woodburning pizza oven in the middle of nowhere. Talk about memories. Though, this time I wasn't getting the shit bit out of me by mosquitoes. I didn't get any pictures of this one (that turned out at least) or the third one, a sausage and pepperoni with mozzarella. But let me tell you, they were delicious.

I want to thank Rosa again for such a wonderful challenge. Also, my heartfelt condolences to Sher's family. I didn't know her, but she sounds like an amazing lady.

I urge you to check out all of the other Daring Baker's creations, there's some pretty fantastic ones out there..

Olive, Fig, & Prosciutto from Gourmet or Gourmand
Blueberry, Mascarpone & Dulce De Leche from The Hungry Housewife (OMG omnomnomnom)
Grilled Chicken with Parmesan Tomato Sauce from Sugarlaws
Honey, Pistachio, Date & Banana from Tea Factory
Apple Cinnamon Streusel from Baking Obsession (Oh god yes...)

And so many more...

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 (20 1/4 ounces/607.5 g) Unbleached high-gluten (%14) bread flour or all purpose flour, chilled - FOR GF: 4 ½ cups GF Flour Blend with xanthan gum or 1 cup brown rice flour, 1 cup corn flour, 1 cup oat flour, 1 ½ cup arrowroot, potato or tapioca starch + 2 tsp xanthan or guar gum
1 3/4 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Instant yeast - FOR GF use 2 tsp
1/4 Cup (2 ounces/60g) Olive oil or vegetable oil (both optional, but it’s better with)
1 3/4 Cups (14 ounces/420g or 420ml) Water, ice cold (40° F/4.5° C)
1 Tb sugar - FOR GF use agave syrup
Semolina/durum flour or cornmeal for dusting


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/10°-13° C.


2. FOR GF: Add the oil, sugar or agave syrup and cold water, then 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.

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.

7. 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.


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/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.


8. FOR GF: On the day you plan to eat pizza, exactly 2 hours before you make it, remove the number of desired dough balls from the refrigerator. Place on a sheet of parchment paper and sprinkle with a gluten free flour. Delicately press the dough into disks about ½ inch/1.3 cm thick and 5 inches/12.7 cm in diameter. Sprinkle the dough with flour, mist it again with spray oil. Lightly cover the dough round with a sheet of parchment paper and 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/260° C).

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.


10. FOR GF: Press the dough into the shape you want (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter - for a 6 ounces/180g piece of dough).

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/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.


11. FOR GF: Lightly top it with sweet or savory toppings of your choice.

12. Lightly top it with sweet or savory toppings of your choice.


12. FOR GF: Place the garnished pizza on the parchment paper onto the stone in the oven or bake directly on the jelly pan. Close the door and bake for about 5-8 minutes.

NOTE: Remember that the best pizzas are topped not too generously. No more than 3 or 4 toppings (including sauce and cheese) are sufficient.

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


13. FOR GF: Follow the notes for this step.

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.


Alexa said...

Great tossing! Your pizza came out fabulous.

TS of eatingclub vancouver said...

Oh hey -- there you are! =)

Anonymous said...

The hell? How did you get that photo without blurring? Nice capture :) Behold the intense look of concentration...
I made the same type of pizza as you. Hard to beat a good margherita.

Kristin @ Going Country said...

SO BIZARRE to see a photo after having only an imaginary picture in my head for so many months.

I'll leave this crust to you. Looks like too much work, and I am too lazy. I'll just have to gaze wistfully at your photos and continue making my admittedly somewhat thick and heavy pizza dough that only rises for 10 minutes.

I'm such a bum.

Anonymous said...

What a great photo of tossing the dough! Your crust does look pretty perfect :)

Anonymous said...

Nice tossing shot! It's fun to see people's facial expressions as the dough leaves their hands...

Anonymous said...

I think you look great tossing the pizza. It looks like concentration to me. I am jealous that you have fresh basil, the frost killed mine. Your pizzas look great. Well done.

Vera said...

The pizzas look perfect! And what a great tossing!

Para i familiaku said...

Great looking pizza! Wow, you make your own pizza dough? I should try that, thanks to the recipe you posted. I can make bread, pastries, cakes, etc, but for some reason I have always stayed away from making pizza dough. Not sure why, no explanation there.

However I will definately try at making it!