I recently joined a group called the Daring Baker’s Challenge. It’s pretty cool. Each month there is a different challenge to bake with a basic recipe and things you can do to make it your own. October’s was pizza, they gave us the dough recipe and we came up with the sauce and toppings. It happened to work out that October was the month that I was having 10 High School girls over for a make your own pizza night, so I made a triple recipe in order to have plenty of dough. We also had to have a picture of us tossing the dough. This is the best picture of me tossing the dough, mainly because I was really bad at it and kept tearing or folding the dough, and told Eric I was satisfied with a blurry one.
Pizza Dough (taken from “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice” by Peter Reinhart)
makes 6 9-12 inch pizzas
4 1/2 Cups Unbleached high-gluten (%14) bread flour or all purpose flour, chilled (mine wasn’t chilled but my apartment was cold)
1 3/4 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Instant yeast
1/4 Cup Olive oil
1 3/4 Cups Water, ice cold
1 Tb sugar
cornmeal for dusting
Method: 1. Mix together the flour, salt and instant yeast n the bowl of your stand mixer. 2. Add the oil, sugar and cold water and mix well (with the paddle attachment, on low speed) in order to form a sticky ball of dough.
Switch to the dough hook and mix on medium speed for 5-7 minutes.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
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 I did 8-10 pieces for personal sized 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. (I wrapped them in saran wrap which seemed to work too and is cheaper)
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.
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 cookie sheet. 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/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.
12. Lightly top it with sweet or savory toppings of your choice.
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.
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.
For this pizza I used a basil tomato sauce, sauteed onions and garlic, sliced fresh roma tomatoes, feta cheese and a tiny bit of freshly grated parmesan. The flavors of the sauteed onions and garlic were amazing and came out so great. We love feta and it came out really incredible.
I also wanted to make a dessert pizza and it was an experiment that turned out incredibly. I brushed the dough with melted butter and sprinkled it with cinnamon sugar. I cored, peeled and sliced an apple, then mixed it with a sauce made of
1/8 cup whipping cream
1 TBS vanilla extract
1 1/2 TBS sugar
1 TBS flour
I spread the apples on the pizza and poured some of the leftover sauce over the top. Yum!!!!!! It was amazing!
The final pizza was a little more classic, the fresh ingredients were incredible and we gobbled it up. I used a tiny bit of marinara sauce, layered fresh tomato slices sprinkled with parmesan cheese, then baby spinach and sprinkled that with feta. Next I topped it with slices of red bell pepper and red onion and finally some fresh mozzarella.
I’ve tried several different combinations and sauces when I had the girls over and another day with Eric’s sister (lots of ingredients to use up!) but these were the ones I took pictures of.
It was a really fun challenge and my tummy is very happy with the results.