As strange as it might appear, until now, there has been no "Daring Baker's" challenge focused on learning how to make authentic “Pizza Dough”. So, this month we all had to play pizzaiolos and toss our dough like real Italians. I can assure you that it was a lot of fun...
Originally, I was supposed to host this challenge (my 13th participation so far) together with Sher at "What Did You Eat?" (USA) and Glenna at "A Fridge Full Of Food" (USA), but, unfortunately, life’s sad events made me stride that horse alone.
As you might all know by now, the lovely Sherry passed away tragically on the 20th of July 2008 (see my tribute) after having been struck by a massive heart-attack at the early age of sixty. Glenna, on her side, decided to quit "The Daring Baker’s" and to stop her baking adventure for personal reasons. So that’s why I am the only one who is endorsing the role of host for this challenge.
Prior to her sudden death (9 days before), Sher had shared with me her recipe idea for the October challenge. When she died, it was clear for me that I would respect her choice and that I would still submit the recipe that she had embraced. This is my last ode to a very appreciated blogger, DB member, skilled baker and cook whom I miss a lot!
This easy to follow recipe for “Pizza Dough" was taken from Peter Reinhart's highly-praised cookbook “The Bread Baker's Apprentice” ("Pizza Napoletana" recipe). It yields a beautifully tasty, thin, crispy, delicate yet chewy pizza crust that'll make you reach an ectastic state of bliss and satisfaction after every bite taken into a slice of pizza made with that exquisite dough. A unique and pleasureable gastronomic experience for any gourmet in search of strong culinary sensations...
Thanks to that wonderful recipe, I have made the best pizzas ever. Even a pizzaiolo would be jealous of the results I came up with. My sweet, delightfully soothing and refined "Fig, Walnut & Cream Cheese Pizza" as well as my savory, homy and mouthwateringly scrumptious "Flamküche Pizza" (see recipes below) came out perfect, had a fantastic flavor and looked absolutely gorgeous!
If you haven't tested Peter Reinhart's recipe yet, then I warmly recommend you to get into a baking frenzy as you'll not regret putting efforts into making that awesome "Pizza Dough"!!!
~ 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 - 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.
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.
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 abour 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.
I made two different pizzas.
Sweet "Fig, Walnut & Cream Cheese Pizza" (ingredients for one pizza):
4 Tbs Cream cheese
4 Tsps Lemon juice
2 Tbs Sugar
1 Tsp Pure vanilla extract
1/2 Tsp Orange rind
1 Pinch Ground cinnamon
1 Pinch Ground cloves
A handful walnuts, coarsely chopped
2 1/2 Figs, thinly sliced
2 Tsps Runny honey, to drizzle over the pizza
Mix all first 7 ingredients together and spread oven the shaped pizza dough.
Arrange the sliced figs over the cream cheese mixture.
Sprinkle with the walnuts and drizzle with the honey.
Bake as recommended above.
Savory "Flammküche Pizza" (ingredients for one pizza):
3 Tbs Sour cream
1/2 Big onion, cut very thinly in rounds
2 Tbs Speck, cut in tiny cubes
90g Grated Appenzeller cheese
1 Tsp Caraway seeds
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Spread the sour cream over the shaped pizza dough.
Arrange the onions rounds and speck.
Sprinkle with the Appenzeller cheese and caraway seeds.
Bake as recommended above.
Eat at any time of the day and with the accompaniment of your choice. And don't forget to be creative!