Wednesday, October 29, 2008

October Daring Bakers Challenge - Pizzaiola!

October's challenge, brought to us by Rosa from Switzerland, is to make "real" pizza dough. The recipe is adapted from The Bread Baker's Apprentice, by Peter Reinhart. The original recipe makes 6 pizza crusts. I halved the recipe and made three, baking one right away and freezing the other two for another time. Each one of my pizzas measured to about 12-14" and was more than enough to feed 2 people for dinner, especially with a small salad on the side. I have made my own pizza dough before and I would say that, in comparison to other recipes, this one was not bad. I found it a little bland. With the right toppings, it can still be very tasty!


4 1/2 Cups 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 (40° F/4.5° C)
1 Tb sugar
cornmeal for dusting

To get started, get yourself a nice, flat place to work. I have tiled countertops, so I use a board from Chef's Catalog. Then, mix the flour, salt and yeast together in the mixer bowl. Add the oil, sugar, and cold water and mix (using a large spoon or your dough hook) well to form a sticky ball of dough. Move this to a well-floured board and knead (THIS IS THE FUN PART!) using your hands (also well-floured) for about 5-7 minutes. It took me 10 minutes. Once you are done, your dough should be elastic and smooth.

Cut the dough into equal portions using a bench scraper and, using floured hands, roll each portion into a smooth ball. Place each ball into an oiled bag (I use a plastic grocery bag) and store in the freezer (for future use) or, overnight in the refrigerator. Seal the bag by pressing the air out of it and tying a knot towards the top of the bag. You want to make sure to leave room in the bag for the dough to grow and release carbon dioxide during fermentation. If you freeze the dough, you can probably keep it there for a month or so, and make sure you move it to the fridge overnight the day before you want to use it.

The following day, about 2 hours before you plan to use your dough, remove it from the fridge and peel it out from the bag onto your lightly oiled and floured work surface. Using plenty of flour for your hands, the surface and the dough, press the dough into a round disk about 1/2" thick. Cover it with a towel or some plastic wrap and allow it to rest for about 2 hours.

About 45 minutes before you bake the pizza (1 hour 15 minutes after you set it to rest - are you paying attention to all of these timelines?), preheat your pizza stone by setting the oven to the highest temperature possible (500). Pizzas cook best with INTENSE heat underneath them. This is why stones or brick ovens (sometimes get up to 700 degrees!) are used. If you do not have a stone, you can use the back of your baking sheet, but it won't get as hot.

After 2 hours rest, sprinkle the back side of a large baking sheet or jelly roll pan with durum/semolina flour or cornmeal and move the dough to your floured hands, keeping your fists rounded. Begin by stretching the dough in a circular motion with your hands. When you are comfortable, progress to a full TOSS! While you are doing this, if the dough sticks to your hands - FLOUR them! If the dough does not want to stretch or expand, it just needs a little more time to rest. Set it down for another 20 minutes and try again.

Once your pizza crust is the size you want it, place it on the back of your baking sheet, making sure there is enough flour or cornmeal to keep it from sticking. (You are going to want to be able to slide it off onto your pizza stone.)

Top your pizza with the toppings of your choice and place the pan in the oven, or slide it off on to your preheated pizza stone. Bake at 500 for about 5-8 minutes and then begin checking. You want the crust to be cooked from the underside, but the cheese and toppings on top to be melted and hot.

When it's done, take it out of the oven and let it cool for 5 minutes before cutting. ENJOY!

1 comment:

John said...

Hey Heidi! This is John Adams from UNC -- remember me? I hope so! I stumbled across your culinary school blog and now this one ... wow, you've sure been up to a lot lately! I'm back in Cary now with my wife (Kiely) and our 3 kids. Cheryl told me that you were working in the new bakery on Franklin Street ... are you still there? I'd love to head over and see you one day! Take care...