Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Daring Bakers: Pizza Dough

This is the second time in my short Daring Bakers career that I'm out of town at the end of the month, so I'm once again going to give you an abbreviated Daring Bakers post, since I'm headed to Mexico in the morning and still have way too much to do before I leave! I think I've finally masted Blogger... I've finally figured out how to post this in advance, so I can write this post today, Tuesday, and it will automatically publish next Wednesday when the Daring Bakers all reveal their posts. Wish me luck ;)

This month's challenge was not much of a challenge to me, since I'm married to a former pizza making college kid. Joe worked at our local pizza place in Columbia, Missouri when we were in school, and he's carried on his pizza making skills since we got married. Our Kitchen Aid mixer has been a great help in past pizza making pursuits, since it does the kneading for us. This challenge did involve a different dough recipe than we usually use, though, so there was some challenge in trying a recipe that was very different from our usual one.

This month's recipe was chosen by Rosa at Rosa's Yummy Yums. She had originally been planning this challenge with Sher of What Did You Eat, but Sher unexpectedly passed away after suffering from a heart attack this summer. Since Sher had suggested the idea of making some kind of authentic pizza dough, Rosa chose to go on with that idea to honor Sher. So as you look around at various Daring Baker's pizzas this month, think of Sher and all the bakers she inspired!

I tried to keep an open mind about the dough recipe we chose, even though it was soooo different from my usual recipe. This dough has yeast but stays cold and doesn't actually rise, and it ends up as a pretty wet dough. I followed the directions completely, but the dough I ended with was too soft to be tossted. I did hold it on my hands to spread it out, but it was so soft it would have torn through if I'd tried to toss it in the air. That was a bummer, because I really wanted to try tossing my pizza dough. Here's a couple previous pictures of Joe doing it with our usual pizza recipe, just to show off his skills...

First at our old apartment...

Continuing the tradition at our new condo...
There was no way I could have even attempted to throw the dough from this recipe, but I did like how easy it was to shape it into a thin circle for baking.

I also had a bone to pick with the two day process. Since it still needs two hours out of the fridge before you can prep it, this isn't a very weeknight friendly meal. We could prep dough Friday and bake pizza Saturday, or prep Saturday to bake Sunday, but with my commute home we wouldn't eat dinner until at least 8:30 if I attempted to use this dough on a weeknight.

I did really like the thin crust that resulted from this dough, and for that I would call this recipe almost worth it. I would have to say, though, with the time and energy it took to make this recipe, I would rather go to one of the many "wood oven pizza" type places all over Chicago. I love making pizza at home, but I think I'll continue making it in my less authentic way. Oh, and the smoke alarm kept going off when my oven was turned all the way up to 500 degrees, which was a hassle during cooking :( This was a good recipe to try, and I wouldn't blame people for liking it, but for me I think I'll go with the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" mentality and just keep my usual pizza dough recipe.

I will post my usual dough recipe another time, since it's mostly just stored in Joe's head and I'll have to make him type it out! So stay tuned for another pizza recipe in the near future.

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.


Alexa said...

Your pizza came out great. I love the tossing pictures. Well done!

suze said...

nice to see joe came out of mizzou with a diverse set of skills! :) ben makes his own dough. maybe i'll encourage him to learn to toss it!

Sarah said...

I don't mind spending days cooking things, but I just don't think I could justify 2 day pizza dough.

Yours looks really tasty, though!

Darius T. Williams said...

Looks good - great final product!


Sara said...

I love vegetable pizza, I make it all the time!

Nicole said...

Check out that toss! That is one thing I haven't been able to do yet.