Thursday, October 30, 2008


OK, now, boys and girls...

Are we ready for the latest Daring Bakers Challenge?


Hand tossed pizza! Or, if you are like me, hand flung/twisted pizza. (I was a little tentative on the tossing part.)

The resulting pizzas, while quite tasty, were a little free-form, kind of like an amoeba. Not pretty. Definitely yummy, though. Not pretty. Yummy.

Here is the recipe and the directions:
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.
4 1/2 cups (20 1/4 ounces/607.5 g) unbleached high gluten bread flour or all purpose flour, chilled.
1 3/4 tsp salt
1 Tsp instant yeast
1/4 cup (2 ounces/60 g) olive oil or vegetable oil
1 3/4 cups (14 ounces/420g or 420ml) water, ice cold
1 Tbsp sugar
Semolina durum flour or corn meal for dusting pan or stone
Day 1
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.
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).
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.
If the dough sticks to your hands, then dip your hands into the flour again.
6. Transfer the dough balls to the lined jelly roll 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.
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).
If you do not have a baking stone, then use the back of a jelly roll pan. Do not preheat the pan.
10. Generously sprinkle the back of a jelly roll pan or a pizza peel 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.
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 roll pan or on the pizza peel 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.
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 roll pan. Close the door and bake for abour 5-8 minutes.
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 roll 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 roll pan.
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.

The choices of fillings were up to us. I baked two out of the 6 pizzas the recipe made (I froze the rest.) I topped one with pepperoni, Italian sausage, sauteed red peppers and mushrooms, and mozzarella cheese. The other one, which hubby wasn't too sure about until he had a bite, I covered with homemade pesto, sliced artichoke hearts, sliced cooked chicken breasts, and feta cheese. Both were really good!

The dough was very easy to make. The forming/tossing/flinging though, not so much. Since I made two of the six pizzas and froze the other 4 balls of dough, I'll have another try or two at it. I hope I can get the spin of it. Maybe a glass or two of wine before tossing...?

I am actually a day late in posting this. (I could have sworn it said the 30th!)


Heather said...

Yummy looking pizzas!! Those husbands, how can they doubt us?

Dagmar - A Cat in the Kitchen said...

The pizzas look great and so do the tossing photos!

Argus Lou said...

Good job! Creditable tossing photos, too. Mine is disastrous. See you next month... ^_^

Pamela said...

I was with ya on the late posting for some reason I had the 30th in my head too. Good looking pizzas
great tossing pics didn't have anyone to take mine

TeaLady said...

These look great. Bet hubby did change his mind with these great toppings. Yummy!!!

Elle said...

Wonderful pizza and I'm impressed with your toss/twist/fling for the dough...mine went right on the floor. Nice photos, too! My hubby ate more than his share of what didn't hit the floor, but made it into the oven.

ARLENE said...

Great job, and at least you attempted to toss AND caught it on camera. I have to learn how to take my own photo, lol.

Penny said...

I like your tossing photos and I think I will try your fried green tomatoes!