Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Basic Pizza Dough - Daring Bakers Challenge

***'s that time again...Daring Bakers time, that is! This month we were challenged to make our very own pizza dough. But that was only half the challenge...we also had to transform into pizzaiolos for a day and actually toss the dough + take pictures of the tossing action! I was pumped...I had never attempted tossing pizza dough until tonight (yes, I waited until the very last minute to complete this challenge). The recipe was taken from "The Bread Baker's Apprentice" by Peter Reinhart.

Our lovely host this month was Rosa from Rosa's Yummy Yums. Thanks Rosa for the wonderful challenge!!!

I chose to make a simple, Margherita pizza (mozzarella, roma tomatoes, basil & olive oil). I ended up with 2 large dough balls (instead of 6 smaller ones), so I've got another one sitting in the fridge waiting for its turn. I didn't want to do anything too complicated for the first go-around...just in case the dough didn't want to cooperate. However, the dough was perfect! I think that making the dough with chilled ingredients and then letting it sit in the fridge overnight makes a big difference in the texture and quality of the dough. I'm going to try different toppings on the second pizza...I haven't completely made up my mind yet though. There are SO many options!

As you can see, Brad had fun trying out his new camera for the "dough tossing photo shoot"...LOL. I think I had even more fun tossing the dough and trying not to let it hit the floor!

I can't wait to see what next month's challenge will be...stay tuned!***
**The 3 photos in this post were all taken by my husband, Brad.**

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

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.


Ruth said...

Your pizza looks amazing. Your tossing is so impressive. You tossed the pizza dough so high and its a fantastic photo

Tanya said...

What fantastic photos of you tossing the dough! Margherita pizza is my favorite! Great work.

Cristine said...

I love the pics of you tossing the dough. Kudos to your hubby! Great job!!!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Great tossing pictures! Your pizza looks fabulous!



Marija said...

Your husband made great photos of you tossing the dough! Where was he standing to get that angle?! :))

Olga said...

wow, that's some really high tossing! I just stretched mine ;)

Celeste said...

Thanks so much everybody!!!

Marija - He had to stand on a ladder to get that angle...taking the pic was half the fun. ;)

Tara said...

The pictures are amazing! Good work!

~Amber~ said...

Excellent photos. Your pizza looks very delicious! Great job.

Vera said...

Very impressive shot of the flying dough! Where was a photographer? On the top of the cabinet? :)
The baked pizza looks great, too.

Dragon said...

I'm impressed with your tossing technique. The expression on your face is priceless. :) Great job!

Lisa said...

You're so cute! Haha! Really enjoying your blog and making some notes to come back and get your red velvet and chocolate cake recipes! YUM!!

Y said...

Well, you've answered Marija's question already, because that's exactly what I wanted to know - how the heck your husband managed to take those great photos of you tossing the dough! Love the perspective :)

Christina said...

Really great tossing pictures. I like that he used a ladder.

Lynn said...

I will agree with everyone else, the tossing pictures are great. As are your pizzas. Well done.