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!
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.
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!
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.