Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Daring Bakers: October


I was sitting at a table at Brunetti’s in Carlton, sipping a long black and nibbling on some crostoli with Steve when I wondered out loud about what the Daring Bakers challenge for October might be. He handed me his iPhone and I set about finding out. And thus, during the week in which I’d almost eaten my bodyweight in pizza, I learnt that the challenge would be… pizza! But I was actually kind of excited about it, I love making pizza from scratch at home and I was keen to try a new recipe.

The October challenge consisted of:
- making pizza bases using Peter Reinhart’s recipe
- our choice of sauce and toppings
- providing photographic evidence of us tossing the dough!

toss... and catch

This is the closest I’ve come to real Italian style pizza in my own kitchen and I just loved it. The recipe for the base was quite different to others I’ve tried – using ice cold water instead of warm water, and with an overnight rest in the fridge. While this dough is amazing, it does require a bit of forethought and some preparation in advance. I found the tossing a little bit tricky at first, but I think I got a little better at it on my second attempt. It really does make a huge difference to the dough. I also think it’s about time to invest in a pizza stone! I will definitely make this again in the future, but my go to recipe for a quicker and simpler pizza is from award winning chef John Lanzafame’s fantastic book Pizza Modo Mio, which I promise to share with you soon.

potato rosemary

As for toppings, I chose olive oil, thinly sliced potatoes, rosemary and mozzarella for the first pizza. I cooked the sliced potatoes for about 4-5 minutes in the microwave before layering them onto the pizza as I wanted to be sure they would cook all the way through. It turned out wonderfully, very similar to the one I had at Little Creatures recently. On the other pizza, I had a tomato and olive oil sauce, with pancetta, sun-dried tomatoes, baby spinach and mozzarella cheese. It too was delicious, and I have several ideas for the remaining balls of dough currently left in my freezer.

I would also like to dedicate this post to Sherry “Sher” Cermack who passed away tragically and suddenly in July this year. This pizza recipe was her idea for the October challenge that she was supposed to host with Rosa from Rosa’s Yummy Yums. Unfortunately, I didn’t know her personally, but I wish I had because she sounded like an absolutely wonderful person. She sure did pick a great theme. I think this has been my favourite challenge so far!

pancetta & spinach

Pizza Dough
Makes 6 pizza crusts (23-30cm diameter)
From The Bread Baker’s Apprentice by Peter Reinhart

• 4 ½ cups plain flour, chilled
• 1 ¾ teaspoons salt
• 1 teaspoon instant yeast
• ¼ cup olive oil or vegetable oil
• 1 ¾ cups ice cold water
• 1 tablespoon sugar
• Semolina or cornflour for dusting

1. Mix flour, salt and yeast together in a big bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer
2. Add the oil, cold water and sugar and mix well with a large wooden spoon or paddle attachment until a sticky ball of dough forms.
3. On a clean surface knead for about 5-7 minutes, until the dough is smooth and ingredients are evenly distributed. If using a stand mixer, switch to the dough hook and mix on medium speed. The dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom. The finished dough should be springy, elastic, sticky but not tacky and register 10-13°C
4. Flour a work surface or bench top. Line a baking jelly pan with baking paper. Lightly oil the paper.
5. With a large metal or plastic dough scraper, cut the dough into 6 equal pieces. To avoid the dough from sticking to the scraper, dip it into water between cuts.
6. 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, dip them into the flour again.
7. Transfer the dough balls to the lined jelly pan and mist them generously with spray oil. Slip the pan into a plastic bag or enclose in plastic food wrap.
8. Put the pan into the refrigerator and let the dough rest overnight or for up to three days. You can also store the dough balls in the freezer for future baking. In that case, pour a few tablespoons of oil in a medium ball and dip each dough ball in the oil so it is completely covered. Put each ball into a separate zippered freezer bag and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. The day before you plan to make pizza, remember to transfer the dough from the freezer to the fridge.
9. On the day that you plan to eat the pizza, exactly 2 hours before you make it, remove the desired number of dough balls from the fridge. Dust the counter with flour and spray lightly with oil. Place the dough balls on the floured surface and sprinkle them with flour. Dust your hands with flour and delicately press the dough into disks about 1.3cm thick and about 13cm diameter. Sprinkle with flour and mist with oil. Loosely cover the dough with plastic wrap and then allow to rest for 2 hours.
10. At least 45 minutes before making the pizza, place a baking stone in the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to as hot as possible (260°C/500°F)
11. Generously sprinkle the back of a pan with semolina or cornmeal. Flour your hands. 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. If the dough doesn’t want to expand, let it rest for about 5-20 minutes to allow to gluten to relax, then try again
12. When the dough has the shape you want, place it on the back of the pan, making sure there is enough semolina or cornmeal to allow it to slide and not stick to the back of the pan.
13. Lightly top it with ingredients of your choice.
14. Slide the garnished pizza onto the stone in the oven or bake directly on the pan. Close the door and bake for about 5-8 minutes. After 2 minutes of baking, take a peek. For even baking, rotate 180°
15. Take the pizza out of the oven and transfer to a cutting board. Wait 3-5 minutes for the cheese to set before slicing and serving.


Dana McCauley said...

Great looking pies - your experience with the concept obviously paid off!

Lorraine E said...

It looks great Lisa! Hehe I made a potato and rosemary pizza -great minds think alike! ;) I didn't think I could publish the story today (I'm a DB newbie).

Y said...

It's a great little recipe isn't it? :) I'd be interested in your Lanzafame one too. I've seen the cookbook around.

Lisa said...

Dana, I too believe that all my pizza eating was beneficial in this case! thanks!

Lorraine, yep! today is posting day. How awesome that you decided to join! You read my mind about the brownies too, how strange :) Can't wait to see your pizzas.

Y, it certainly is a great recipe. The Lanzafame book is actually pretty good, some very interesting combinations in there that I'm looking forward to trying out!

Manggy said...

Very well done Lisa! The toppings look marvelously succulent.
The main thing that's keeping me from attempting to toss the pizza is that there's no ceiling high enough in this house! :P

Tanya said...

Your pizzas look beautiful! Great photos and a job well done.

[eatingclub] vancouver || js said...

That is one gorgeous pizza pie! You're making me hungry at 10:05 in the evening. ;)

Olga said...

Those pizzas look great! Especially the potato one: seems like quite a few people went with that idea...I should give it a try.

Vera said...

Lisa, both pizzas look delicious! And I love the photo of the flying one! It's a great shot!

Dawn said...

Awesome photos Lisa.
You did a fantastic job here. I'm with you, I love to make pizza and I eat way too much of it.
I'm so glad you are not stingy with the cheese; great of the cheese too btw.

Lesley said...

Mmmmm...looks as good as a restaurant! Nicely done!

Regina said...

Your pizzas look great! I made a version of the potato and rosemary pizza as well. Maybe we're on to something here...

Christie @ fig&cherry said...

Great action shots Lisa!

bakinginoregon said...

Nice choice of toppings, well done on your pizzas!

Tarah at Genesis of a Cook said...

Ohh, I love your choice of toppings! Excellent job!

Lynn said...

Your pizzas look professional. I love the idea of potato, rosemary and cheese. How can you not love that? I am impressed by both pizzas. Well done!

Karen said...

My god your pizzas are making me hungry! Especially your potato pizza (along with Lorraine's!).

Um this months challenge is another reason why I'm hesitant joining the Daring Bakers (I've been putting it off for a while!). I think my skills need a brush-up before I dare take it on!

But soon...because it looks like so much fun :)

pea & pear said...

It now seems so long since I have visited your blog. All these beautiful posts!!

So firstly, this pizza looks so delicious I want to eat it right off the screen. I have got 3 db challenges I have to finish this month ( 2 in backlog) and I think these photos have motivated me to make pizza today!!!!



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