bakingforthecure

Daring Bakers- The Perfect Pizza

In Bread, Cheese, Main Dish, Vegetarian on October 29, 2008 at 8:00 am

This is my very first Daring Bakers challenge, and this challenge was the perfect one to start with! Since I am crabving for pizza for more than anything else, this was just perfect! Though it was a little bit hard to work with the dough, the final result was worth it.

I made 2 pizzas from the dough, and they turned out really thick, so I`ll make about 4 the next time. The dough itself was quite wet, so you should try to make it in the mixer (unless you like mess…). After a night in the fridge, the dough is a lot less sticky, and you could  work with it withoun a problem. One more thing- if you have a pizza stone now is the time to use it!

As for the toppings- I`ve made one pizza with basic tomato sauce, mozzarella and olives. The other pizza was with cream based sauce, sweet potato and Parmesan cheese.

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 (20 1/4 ounces/607.5 g) Unbleached high-gluten (%14) bread flour or all purpose flour, chilled

1 3/4 Tsp Salt

1 Tsp Instant yeast

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
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.

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 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.

Day Two
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/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.

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 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.

My toppings:

cream and basil sauce with sweet potato and Parmesan:

150 ml. heavy cream (or half and half)

1 garlic clove, crushed

fresh basil leaves, coarsly chopped

salt, freshly ground black pepper, grated nutmeg

1 sweet potato, sliced

Parmesan, shaved into stripes

Sear the sweet potato in a pan with olive oil until cooked enough.

In a pan, bring to a boil the cream, garlic, basil, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Cook until thickens, about 5 minutes. Let cool.

Spread the cream sauce on top of the pizza base, add the sweet potato and Parmesan. Bake according to recipe.

Tomato, mozzarella and olives:

half can of crushed tomatoes (about 300-400 gr.)

1 tablespoon tomato paste

salt, freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon dry oregano

150 gr. mozzarella cheese, thickly sliced

1/4 cup green or black olives, thinly sliced

In a pan, cook the crushed tomates, tomato paste, salt, pepper and oregano for about 5 minutes. Spread over the pizza base, lay the mozzarella and olives. Bake according to recipe.

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  1. Congrats on your first challenge! You did a great job! Your pizza looks very scrumptious!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  2. Congrats and great job on your first DB challenge. Your pizzas do look very delish!

  3. Great job on your first DB challenge! Hope you enjoyed it!

  4. Mmmm… your pizzas look great! I think I might have to try sweet potatoe on a pizza sometime!

  5. The sweet potato and cream sauce pizza is inspired! Great job on your first challenge!

  6. your sweet potato idea is inspiring! everything looks delicious!

  7. Your pizza looks like it could come from a top pizzeria! I am so impressed by your first challenge. I look forward to next month. Great job.

  8. I love the sweet potato, basil, and parmesan combination!

  9. Your pizzas look fabulous! Great job!

  10. Rosa: Thanks, and Thank you for the great challenge!

    Jo: Thank you! :)

    Cristine: I loved it! thanks!

    Mixbyhand: Thanks! the sweet potato combination is really worth trying!

    Dragon: Thank you very much :)

    Lorrie: Thanks!

    Lynn: What a great compliment! Thank you very much!

    Regina: Thank you!

    Tanya: thanks! :)

  11. Welcome to the club! Your pizzas look big and beautiful ;)

  12. welcome! your first challenge turned out wonderfully. :)

  13. Congratulations on completing your first DB Challenge!
    Very nice look pizzas! :-)

  14. Congratulations on becoming a daring baker! You did a wonderful job, your pizzas look great, especially the one with the sweet potatoes, that looks and sounds divine!

  15. That cream/basil sauce/sweet potato/parmesan topping sounds like something incredibly tasty!! Good job!

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