October 29, 2008

Daring Bakers: Pizza

This month's Daring Bakers challenge was chosen by Rosa of Rosa's Yummy Yums. I was, as usual, excited about the recipe...pizza! I'd yet to make my own dough. But, once again (*sigh*) I waited until the last minute and made the pizzas last night.


Several weeks ago, Jerad and I had a pizza throwdown using dough from Trader Joe's. I made my pizza first, but his was much better since he learned from my mistakes. Since I had to make pizza for the Daring Bakers, I challenged Jerad to a Pizza Throwdown 2.0. This time, I made him go first.

I think both pizzas were very good, so we're calling this pizza throwndown a toss-up! (Get it?) The dough was easy and so tasty! It was much less challenging that I expected. The most difficult part is planning ahead!

I went puttanesca style, topping my pizza with tomato & anchovy sauce (with red pepper flakes), caramelized onions, kalamata olives, capers, & parsley.

I then added fresh mozzarella slices & shredded mozzarella.

Jerad topped his with onions, pepperoni, mushrooms, & provel cheese.


Original recipe taken from “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice”
by Peter Reinhart.

Makes 6 pizza crusts (about 9-12 inches in diameter).

4 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour or all purpose flour, chilled
1 3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1/4 cup olive oil
1 3/4 cups water, ice cold
1 tablespoon 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.


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.

Dough before rising.

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 three 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.

Dough after rising.


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 thick and 5 inches 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 in diameter - for a 6 ounces 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.



Jen said...

Great job on the challenge!

Anonymous said...

I was suprised at how easy the dough recipe seems.

Dragon said...

Toss up! Hilarious! I think I like your pizza topping more. :)

Engineer Baker said...

Wow, I'd go for the puttanesca-style one any day. Looks wonderful!

Heather B said...

Great toppings! They all look so yum!

Tammy said...

Yum, great flavours!!

Wendy said...

I have been on a homemade pizza mission lately - see? you are totally my food soul mate!

we've been big boboli fans for years (its the only way we can get broccoli and chicken-apple-sausage on a pizza. yes, really.) Tried the pizza dough mix from the box last weekend. Blech.

I guess I will have to break down a actually PLAN AHEAD to try this for real. Have you tried the pizzas on the grill?

Anonymous said...

I think your pizzas look superb! I love the pizza show down. I am impressed. Well done.

Ruth said...

Yum your puttanesca pizza looks delicious!!