Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Making Pizza with the Daring Bakers

Matt & I love to make homemade pizza. We have a crust recipe we love & enjoy experimenting with toppings. So, when we saw this month's Daring Bakers challenge (hosted by Rosa's Yummy Yums) was pizza we felt a little, well, unchallenged. Then I took a look at the crust recipe from The Bread Baker's Apprentice & saw it was quite a bit more challenging than our usual crust with its kneading & overnight in the fridge plus we were supposed to try throwing it for a more authentic crust.
Daring Bakers Pizza
Ok, so making the dough went pretty easy especially using my Kitchen Aid to do the kneading. We made half a batch putting one ball in the fridge to use the next day & freezing the other two for later use. Day 2, we rested the dough another 2 hours, heated our pizza stone & got ready to throw. This is were things went wrong. We just could not throw this dough, it basically just kept sticking to it self & then got a hole. At that point the dough had been worked so much we had to let it rest again before we could roll it out (we were starving at this point). In the end we just stretched it our on our pizza paddle by hand.
Daring Bakers PizzaDaring Bakers Pizza
We topped the pizza with my Roasted Pepper & Tomato Sauce, some homemade Italian sausage, basil & mozzarella to get the flavor of our favorite pizza at Punch, a wonderful Neapolitan pizzeria in the Twin Cities. The dough slid off the pizza paddle & on to the pizza stone easily thanks to a lot of cornmeal (I was a little worried about this) & 5 minutes later we finally got to eat.

The pizza was good, mainly thanks to the toppings but we felt the crust was just too thin & really didn't taste that special at all. I think we'll stick to the crust we usually make since we love it & can have pizza in two hours instead of two days.

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 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 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.

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.

Other pizzas we've made...


Stacey Snacks said...

Who's the good lookin' pizza man?
Oh, it's Matt!

Nice looking pizza too!

Lori said...

I felt the same way initially. I focused in on the toss which I have always wanted to do. Have tried before, didnt work. It turned out to be a nice surprise. My husband was totally in love with the crust. He's a thin crust kind of guy.

Cristine said...

Your pizza looks yummy! Sorry the dough wasn't cooperative, though!

Jen said...

I'm sorry you all didn't love the pizza.... but I am excited to hear you mention Punch-- Zach and I go there with his mum every time we're in the cities. I think they might have the best pizza that I've had in the States.

Lynn said...

What a super surprise to run into another food blogger from the Twin Cities. I think it is always great to try new recipes, even if it isn't one we will use in the future. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

~Amber~ said...

Your pizzas look delicious! Great job on the challenge.

Oh my! Apple pie! said...

Your pizza looks delicious.
It was a fun challenge but I don't think I'd use the dough recipe again either.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Great tossing! Your pizza looks wonderful! Very well done!



Deborah said...

Your pizza sounds delicious! Now I'm going to have to go find your regular crust recipe - I'm sure you've posted it here, right?

Sharon said...

That recipe does look like a doozy! Looks good, though and I do enjoy the tossing pictures!

Dewi said...

Scrumptious looking pizza!

Anonymous said...

Yum!! looks super delish, but nothings beat cooking with your love ones :)

Alicia Foodycat said...

Well he looks pretty pro with the crust in that picture - sorry to hear it wasn't so great. Your toppings sound superb though.

Dragon said...

Your sous chef looks like a pro. Great job!

Peter M said...

Do you deliver? Phew...that's good.

I like 1 pizza of each of the three you make, 6 cans of coke, extra peppers on the side and lots of wetnaps and napkins...I like eating out of the box. Thx!

Anonymous said...

pizza looks great! The tossing can be tricky..I learned to do it years ago...and it goes well for me unless I forget to take off my ring.

eatingclubvancouver_js said...

Pizza looks great! Thank you for sharing your opinion on the crust recipe. Just wondering how that crust recipe compares with other crust recipes.

giz said...

I'm loving your pizza with all that cheese. It's funny how each of us experiences the same recipe differently. I actually thought my dough was too dry at first and ended up adding at least another 5 tablespoons of water to get the right consistency. The magic is the right consistency and then it's really not that difficult. And when all else fails (i.e. my tossing methods), pat it out and get a thicker crust and say ... man, this is good.

Anonymous said...

It looks delicious! I agree that I will stick with a recipe that takes less time.

grace said...

the dough does look pretty thin in your co-chef's hands, but i'm sure that sauce and those toppings more than made up for it. bravo. :)

Nikki @ NikSnacks said...

I didn't like this crust either :( My only foray into pizza dough making is from Jeff & Zoe's book. I'll stick with that recipe. And throwing it :(...I didn't even try that part.

Anonymous said...

Ooh the dough looks paper thin. Looks perfect.

Anonymous said...

Your toppings sound fantastic! I'm a the-thinner-the-better pizza eater, so I loved this recipe, but I can see why you'd want to stick with your own if that's not your style-- it really did turn out paper-thin.

Anonymous said...

Your pizza topping sounds great. Bummer on the tossing, but its always fun to try.

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