My first Daring Bakers challenge - and what a week for it to be in! I've been hectic trying to sort out my itinerary and organising work stuff. So I'm a day late in getting this posted - apologies Rosa!
Rosa of Rosa's Yummy Yums is the host of Daring Bakers this month, which is to make Reinhart's Basic Pizza dough with our own toppings. This idea was originally from Sher who tragically died earlier this year. She was supposed to be co-hosting with Rosa for this October challenge. Rosa honoured Sher by using her idea, and hosting the challenge alone.
I have completed the challenge - and, wow, I did love it. The crispiest pizza crust imaginable, with just enough of a chew. And so easy to make - a bit of prep the night before, a couple of hours rest, then only minutes to prep and cook each pizza at the very top of my oven.
The tossing took a bit of practice. I would say probably more practice than I've given it so far. I draped it over my fists, and did a few tentative moves... by which point it was basically ready! Paper-thin in the middle, but with no tears. The edges were a fair bit thicker - I evened this out by picking up the edges and gently shaking the dough towards the middle. Scientific? Maybe not... but it was successful! I loved this dough - it was as good as any pizza I've paid money for. And substantially better than my last attempt - which was about an inch thick when it came out the oven!!
I had a mini-pizza party with a few friends, and decided to go down the traditional route. A slow cooked tomato sauce, made with smoked garlic and passatta, a touch of dry herbs for depth, and a dab of sugar for balance. Soft jamon serrano, crisped up at the exposed edges; spicy salami against the crunch of sweet red peppers; caramelised red onions, finished with a dash of balsamic truffle syrup; and herby roasted chicken thighs, crispy skins sneaked into hungry mouths before the dough was ready. A mix and match of pizza toppings, each pizza different from the last.
Five pizzas, several beers and a couple of bottles of wine later - satiated and full, we fell asleep on the sofa. A success, methinks!
BASIC PIZZA DOUGH
From The Bread Baker’s Apprentice by Peter Reinhart Makes 6 (25cm) pizza crusts
I couldn't find my instant yeast, so I improvised by activating dried yeast before chilling.
- 4 1/2 cups of flour, chilled
- 1 3/4 teaspoons of salt
- 1 teaspoon of dried yeast
- 1/4 cup of olive oil
- 1 cup of ice water
- 3/4 cup tepid water
- 1 tablespoon of sugar
- cornmeal for dusting
1. Mix together the yeast, tepid water and sugar, and leave for 10 minutes until foaming. Pop in the fridge until cold. Mix together the flour, and salt in a big bowl. Add the oil and cold water and mix well 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 distributed. Cut the dough into 6 equal pieces. Sprinkle some flour over the dough. Make sure your hands are dry and then flour them. Gently roll each piece into a ball.
2. Transfer the dough balls to the lined jelly pan lined with parchment paper and coated with cooking spray and mist the tops generously with cooking spray. Cover with plastic. Put the pan into the refrigerator and let the dough rest overnight or for up to three days.
3. Remove the desired number of dough balls from the refrigerator. 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 1.3cm thick and 12.7cm in diameter. Sprinkle with flour and mist with oil. Loosely cover the dough rounds with plastic wrap and then allow them to rest for 2 hours.
4. At least 45 minutes before making the pizza, preheat the oven as hot as possible (500F/260C).
5. Generously sprinkle the back of a jelly pan with 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 until it reaches the shape you want (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter) place it on the back of the prepared jelly pan.
6. Lightly top it with the toppings of your choice. Slide the garnished pizza into the oven and bake for about 5-8 minutes.
7. Once the crust is cooked and the cheese is browned, take the pizza out of the oven and transfer it to a cutting board or your plate. Allow them to cool 3-5 minutes before slicing or serving.
Oh yes! And we were supposed to get some pics of us tossing the dough. Well. I've never seen so many awful photographs of me in my life...
Hey, who cares - they tasted fab!
Thanks to the awooga man for being photographer extraordinaire - and hi to the awooga man's mum - thanks for reading!