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Daring Baker’s Challenge: Pizza & toppings!

October 29, 2008

Now this Daring Baker’s Challenge was one I was super psyched to do: PIZZA! I’ve posted before that I love pizza, and love making homemade pizza, as well as the fact that I’ve done it many times before… so for me this was a snap. An incredibly enjoyable snap, but a snap.

Pre-baking, regular (left) and ricotta mushroom.

This recipe was different than the one I normally use. My go-to recipe does not require an overnight “resting” period, so its a better spontaneous recipe. However the Daring Baker’s pizza dough recipe was mighty deelish. This is my fourth time participating in the Daring Baker’s Challenge and I have to tell you, I haven’t been disappointed with ANY of them so far. I highly encourage you to join in the fun, whether you have a blog or not!

Our challenge was to create the dough, to “toss it” (like a real pizzaiolo) and the one major rule was that we had to use sauce and toppings. I was not able to film or capture my tossing, as I was the only one around at the moment (and I dare you to take a good picture of something like that on auto-timer). But tossing it was a load of fun! I wasn’t very successful, I admit. I prefer the rolling method myself, or the “punching method” (which I  actually think is my own invention), but tossing it was certainly an experience. I used cornmeal to “dust” it because I use that on my other pizza recipe and I like the texture of it. I created one regular pizza: sauce and mozzarella cheese, and one special pizza: sauce, ricotta, mozzarella cheese and mushrooms. I baked mine on a pizza pan, not stone. I actually haven’t heard great things about pizza stones, but I’m willing to try and kind of want one.

This pizza dough can also be made gluten-free!

The origins of this challenge and the story behind it are somewhat sad. In the words of Rosa of Rosa’s Yummy Yums:

Originally, I was supposed to host this challenge together with Sher at http://www.whatdidyoueat.typepad.com (USA) and Glenna at http://www.afridgefulloffood.typepad.com (USA), but life’s sad events made me stride that horse alone…

As you all know by now, Sherry passed away tragically on the 20th of July2008 after having been struck by a massive heart-attack. Glenna, on her side, has decided to quit The Daring Baker’s and to stop her baking adventure for personal reasons. So that’s why I am all alone on that challenge.

Prior to her sudden death (9 days before), Sher had shared with me her recipe idea for the October challenge that she, Glenna and myself should have hosted together. When she died, it was clear for me that I would respect her choice and that I would still submit her recipe. This is my last ode to a very appreciated blogger, DB member, skilled baker and cook whom I miss a lot!

~ Sherry “Sher” Cermak 1948-2008 ~

Very very sad events indeed. So I dedicate this challenge to Sherry. I did not know her, nor did I ever speak to her, but she seemed like a lovely person and its a very sad story. 🙁

Since I couldn’t get a picture or video of myself tossing the dough, I’m including this YouTube video of someone else doing it, just to help you out in your pizza adventures. 😉

As per usual for these things, the recipe is hiding behind the ‘continue reading’ link below, so as to avoid confusion and a lengthy post. Enjoy!

Yummy plain slice with lots of parmesan!

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). Ingredients:

  • 4 ½ Cups (20 ¼ 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 ¾ Tsp Salt
  • 1 Tsp Instant yeast – FOR GF use 2 tsp
  • ¼ Cup (2 ounces/60g) Olive oil or vegetable oil (both optional, but it’s better with)
  • 1 ¾ 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

DAY ONE

Method:

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.

Or 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.

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 ½ 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.

Or 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.

Or 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.

Or 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.

Or 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.

Or 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 pan 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.

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