Daring Bakers Go Back to the Basics with Pizza!

by Chris on October 29, 2008

due pizze/two pizzas

Rosa‘s choice for this month’s Daring Baker challenge is a special one. Originally, she was supposed to host with Sher and Glenna. Because of the loss of Sher and Glenna’s pause in baking, Rosa is taking on this month by herself. But, she is bringing the girls with her in spirit as the recipe is the one Sher shared prior to her passing.

The Challenge? Well, there were two: the hosts and mine. My challenge was simply getting it done….correctly. I have been a slacker Dber the last couple of months and I needed to snap out of it! My eclairs were sorry and I just couldn’t get the Lavash in last month. Rosa’s challenge? Using the tossing method for at least 2 crusts. Other than that, we had a lot of freedom when including a sauce and a topping. Now, we were also supposed to capture the moment, but…single girl me tossing, clicking, catching with me, myself, and I in the kitchen? Could’ve been ugly. So, “girl on film” didn’t happen. (Why am I hearing Duran Duran in my head? John? John Taylor? Is that you finally coming to rescue your favorite redhead away?)

I thought I would make 2 pizzas – one sweet, savory, then freeze the rest of the dough. But, the challenge didn’t happen quite that way. I ended up making this twice….both savory.

For some reason, my first attempt, when I added 2 Tbsp. of Italian seasoning, didn’t rise well before or during baking. If that wasn’t icky enough, I mixed some random, “what was I thinking” topping combo. I spread ricotta on top of parsley pesto, then topped the ricotta with green tomato relish (recipe follows). Each delicious by themselves….just not all together.

flat…like a pancake and muddlee upnot so tasty flavor combos

Green Tomato Relish
*measurements are approx.
2 lbs. of green tomatoes
1 lg. yellow, peeled
2 green bell peppers
1 red bell peppers
¼ cup of pickling no-iodine salt
1 ½ cups of white vinegar
Mixed pickling spices
celery seed
1 cup of sugar

Dice the tomatoes and onions. Place in a large bowl and sprinkle ½ the salt over vegetables, cover, and let it sit over night. Drain well and rinse off salt with water.Remove the seeds from the peppers and cut up into small pieces. Add the rinsed off vegetables and place in large pot along with the vinegar and celery seeds. Place the mixed pickling spices in a spice bag. *The celery seeds don’t go in the bag– they remain in the relish. Cook until vegetable are soft but with texture – avoid mush! Remove spice bag, add sugar, and cook about ten additional minutes, until the sugar melts. Store in canning jars.

Attempt #2
This attempt was so much better. I ended up with something that actually looked like….a pizza! I think my yeast was dead my first try, because this time I bought new yeast specifically for the second endeavor. Once I (comically) tossed a 12-inch circle (I tossed, almost dropped it a zillion times, the just pressed into shape), I topped it with a kicked up version of the garlic sauce (recipe follows) I made in August, then with sauteed zucchini, mini peppers, and mushrooms. The final pizza was yummy – redeeming myself just a bit. 😛 Next time, I will cook it a little longer. As always, my impatience got the better of me and I was all about the food-meet-tummy scenario. ha!!

Garlic-Goat Cheese Sauce
Enough for one 12-inch pizza.

3 oz. goat cheese, room temperature
6 garlic cloves, peeled
Olive Oil
salt and pepper

Toss the cloves a tsp or so of oil and place in a foil “purse”. Roast in a 400 oven for 20-25 or so minutes, or until the cloves are easily flattened by a fork. Please the cheese and roasted cloves in a min-processor, add salt and pepper to taste. If not spreadable, add a drizzle oil to thin the texture. Spread on pizza, a protein, or use as a dipping sauce.

Don’t forget to check out the The Daring Bakers’ Blogroll to see the mouth watering pizza’s around the globe! Until next month, here’s the recipe we received from Rosa (and Sher) –

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 ½ Cups unbleached high-gluten (%14) bread flour or all purpose flour, chilled
1 ¾ Tsp Salt
1 Tsp instant yeast
¼ Cup (2 ounces/60g) Olive oil
1 ¾ Cups (14 ounces/420g or 420ml) Water, ice cold (40° F/4.5° C)
1 Tb sugar Semolina/durum flour or cornmeal

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. 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 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.

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/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 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 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.

Let’s go down memory lane…

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