Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Daring Baker's Challenge for October: Pizza!

When I discovered that this month's Daring Baker's Challenge was homemade pizza, I was all at once happy, relieved, confident and a bit under-challenged. Happy because who doesn't love pizza? Pizza is a mainstay of my regime....love it, at least once a week. Relieved, confident and under-challenged? Well, that's because I make pizza just about once a week, using this exact recipe! Oh well...at least it's something I love to make and the family loves to eat!

The recipe is excellent. It makes some great pizza dough. Some of the best I've ever had, even in a pizza restaurant. It's easy, too. The trick is, you MUST let the dough rest overnight, and you MUST be sure to use ice water and cold flour. I've made this pizza dough so many times and it hasn't always come out great, usually because I skipped one of those two steps.

I decided to make two pizzas: one with olive oil, cheese (asiago/parmesan/mozzerella blend), figs and prosciutto for me and my husband, one with tomato sauce, cheese and pepperoni for the kids. As usual, they were gobbled up in one sitting!

Here's the recipe, and a big thank you to Rosa of Rosa's Yummy Yums for the challenge and sharing one great recipe with a lot of new pizza makers!

RECIPE SOURCE: “The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering The Art of Extraordinary Bread” by Peter Reinhart. Ten Speed Press, Berkeley, CA. Copyright 2001. ISBN-10: 1-58008-268-8, ISBN-13: 978-158008-268-6.


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.

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.


Olga said...

Figs on a pizza? Sounds great! I also did one savory and sweet pizza. This was truly a great challenge!

Lesley said...

It's not really a sweet pizza, it's actually savory! Figs and prosciutto go very well together, kind of like ham and pineapple. It's delicious! The sweet and salty mix well together....

Medhaa said...

Figs sounds great on a pizza. Looks great

Jamie said...

The fig pizza is really intriguing. I have always wanted to try figs.


Zita said...

Great choice of topping's flavor! look so delish!


Pat said...

Both pizzas look scrumptious but I love the sound of figs and prosciutto together, so I'd pick that one to eat!

Sleeping Bear said...

Figs, prosciutto, olive oil and that cheese blend...that had to be Heaven!!!!

Aran said...

I lpve seeing raw bread dough (in this case pizza dough). i can smell the yeast fermenting. i missed this month's challenge but i have made this pizza dough before. wonderful job!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Great looking pizza! Really delicious looking, especially with the fig topping! Very well done!



Amy said...

Figs and Prosciutto? How tasty! Great job.

Kristen said...

Yumm, Your pizzas look so delicious! I love the classic fig and prociutto combo. I too made the pepperoni pizza for the rest of the family.

Lori said...

Those figs do sound great. Kat at AHealthy Appetite did that combo just recently with panini. It is a great idea and I am totally intrigued.

Elra said...

Yes, May I have a slice of that fig and prosciutto please? Sounds so delicious!

jen said...

I'm jealous, I wish I had found this recipe sooner! :)

Zoe Francois said...

Oh my, the figs and prosciutto pizza is calling me! I must try this with the left over dough!

Chris said...

Figs....pizza...is it bad to want to eat the whole pie I see before heading to bed? :)

Christy said...

The one with figs and prosciutto one really spikes my interest. I'm sure it tastes great, i just have to try it for myself! My favourite though, is what your children had...tomato sauce, cheese and pepperoni. This is one combo that's a crowd pleaser!

Susan said...

Figs and prosciutto, what could be better? Very nice!

Maggie said...

Great pizza flavors!

I agree that this was great dough. It had a lot more oil than I usually use but it was worth it.

Heather said...

Beautiful pizzas!!

Sugar Chef said...

Your pizza's and dough look great. Great topping choices.

Eat4Fun said...

Very very nice looking pizzas!
Figs and Proscuitto! Yum!

Shari@Whisk: a food blog said...

Your toppings sound great!

lisa said...

Your pizzas look delicious! I love figs on pizza... YUM.

Lisa Michelle said...

OMG, your pizzas came out amazing, Lesley..BUT, what don't you make that doesn't come out great? :D Figs and prosciutto are one of my favorite apps, so I can only imagine how yummy it was!

Vera said...

The pizzas look and sounds delicious!
I guess, I'm not the only one who craves for figs and prosciutto :)