Wednesday, October 29, 2008

October Daring Bakers' Challenge: Pizza Tossing!


Pizza Napoletana
I am very excited to announce that I recently joined the Daring Bakers, an online community of baking enthusiasts who all bake the same thing, then blog about it on the same day at the end of the month. I look forward to getting to know all my fellow baker-bloggers, and to pushing my baking to the limit.
So! On to this month's challenge. October being National Pizza Month, hostess Rosa of Rosa's Yummy Yum's appropriately selected Peter Reinhart's Basic Pizza Dough from his acclaimed cookbook, The Bread Baker's Apprentice. It's a great choice, and a favorite of some of my online idols.
Now, I must admit that when I first learned of this challenge, I was a little disappointed. As y'all know, I make a lot of pizza, so I thought it would be too easy for me, thus negating the whole "challenge" part of the equation. However, this challenge was a bit more complicated than I anticipated. First of all, it requires a long, overnight rise, making it a significant departure from my usual throw-it-together, ready-in-90-minutes recipe. Secondly, the challenge required us to actually TOSS the dough. You know, like this guy:

Okay, maybe not exactly like that guy, but still: different = scary. Since I wasn't feeling confident about my crust, I decided to play it safe with the toppings. I made one classic Napoletana with tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella and slivered basil, and the old pizza parlor standby, pepperoni. Luckily, I had little to fear, because although this recipe may seem complicated at first, it's actually quite straightforward, and if you allow for the full rest and rise, you get a crust that's light on the inside, crispy on the outside, and gives Patsy Grimaldi a run for her money.


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 unbleached 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 water, ice cold
  • 1 tb. sugar
  • Semolina/durum flour or cornmeal for dusting

DAY ONE

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.

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 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.


Couldn't have done it without my favorite pink hoodie.
DAY TWO
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.



I miss my pizza stone.

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 re-flour 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 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.


REMARKS
Here are the recipes I used to make my Pizza Napoletana and Parlor Style Pepperoni Pie.

Classic Red Pizza Sauce

- recipe from The Kitchn -

makes about 5 cups
  • 10 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 28 ounce can tomato puree
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced
  • 3 tablespoons fresh basil, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, or to taste

Lightly saute the minced garlic in olive oil over medium heat until golden. Add the tomato paste and fry with the garlic. Add to the rest of the ingredients and blend in a blender or food processor.

This keeps up to a week in the fridge and much longer frozen. Freeze in individual bags, then defrost overnight, snip off a corner and squeeze out the sauce.

Pizza Napoletana

  • 3/4 cup Classic Red Pizza Sauce (recipe above)
  • 1/4 lb. fresh mozzarella, sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • handful fresh basil, slivered

Spread sauce over stretched dough in a thin, even layer. You should be able to see through the sauce to the dough in some places. Evenly arrange mozzarella slices and sprinkle with basil. Bake as recommended above.

Parlor Style Pepperoni Pie

  • 3/4 cup Classic Red Pizza Sauce (recipe above)
  • 1 cup mozzarella, shredded
  • 2 oz. sliced pepperoni
  • 1/3 cup sharp cheddar, shredded
  • 2 fat cloves garlic, sliced

Spread sauce over the dough in a thin, even layer. You should be able to see through the sauce to the dough in some places. Top with a layer of mozzarella, then pepperoni, then a light sprinkling of cheddar and garlic slices. Bake as recommended above.

4 comments:

Lynn said...

Well done on your first challenge. I remembered when my first pizza stone cracked, it was like I lost a friend. Perhaps if I had a pink hoodie I could toss my pizza, too! Your pizza looks amazing. Great job.

Eat4Fun said...

Congratulations on completing your first challenge! Great tossing photo and great looking pizza too!

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