Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Mama Mia ... it's Pizza Day! Another Daring Baker's Challenge

It seems that this month's challenge is going to involve yeast as well. And strangely enough a pizza recipe has yet to surface in the Daring Baker's challenge list. So it would seem quite appropriate that our October host, Rosa of Rosa's Yummy Yums decided that we should all play pizzaiolos.

This month's challenge required us to learn how to make a pizza dough from scratch and then complete the challenge by coming up with 2 pizzas with a sauce and topping of our own choosing. This month's recipe is from Peter Reinhart's “The Bread Baker's Apprentice” which yields a beautifully tasty, thin, crispy, yet chewy pizza crust. In addition, we were to include a picture of ourselves tossing the pizza ..... now this should be a blast - if not a disaster!

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Originally, this month's challenge was to be hosted by Rosa together Sher at What Did You Eat? and Glenna at A Fridge Full of Food. Unfortunately circumstances unfolded which forced Rosa to host this month's challenge on her own. Sherry passed away tragically on the 20th of July 2008 after having been struck by a massive heart-attack. Glenna on the other hand has decided to quit The Daring Baker’s and to stop her baking adventure for personal reasons.

Although I didn't know Sher personally, I feel somewhat sad that a talented baker and a good person at heart has left this world. As such I would like to dedicate my October challenge to Sherry Cermak (1948-2008) and to all Daring Bakers out there.

I made three different types of pizzas: classic margherita pizza, salami with three types of cheeses (mozarella, white cheddar and yellow cheddar) pizza and the final one is a satay chicken pizza with a spicy peanut sauce. This pizza is so good that we had it over two consecutive week-ends!

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 unbleached high-gluten (14%) bread flour or all purpose flour, chilled
1 3/4 Tbsp Salt
1 tsp instant yeast
1/4 cup (60g) olive oil or vegetable oil
1 3/4 cups ice cold water (40° F/4.5° C)
1 Tbsp sugar
Semolina or cornmeal for dusting the pizza pan



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.

3) 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.

4) The finished dough should be springy, elastic, and sticky, not just tacky, and register 50°-55° F/10°-13° C.

5) Flour a work surface or counter. Line a jelly pan with baking paper/parchment. Lightly oil the paper.

6) 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.

7) 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.

8) 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.

9) Put the pan into the refrigerator and let the dough rest overnight or for up to three 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.



1) 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.

2)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.

3) 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.

4)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.

5) 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.

6) You can also resort to using a rolling pin, although it isn’t as effective as the toss method.

7) 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.

8)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.

9) Slide the garnished pizza onto the stone in the oven or bake directly on the jelly pan. Close the door and bake for about 5-8 minutes.

NOTE: After 2 minutes baking, take a peek. For an even baking, rotate 180°.

10) 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.

11) 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.


Dana McCauley said...

Your poor dog - I did you get the dough out of his fur?

Nice looking 'za!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Great tossing pictures! The doggie one is soooo cute ;-P!

Your pizzas look wonderful! Very well done!



Medhaa said...

Oh my poor dog, love your pictures

Jamie said...

Satay chicken pizza, how fun! I love the picture of your dog, why to get everyone involved. :)


Ruth said...

Your pizzas look delicious. Satay pizza yum!

Emiline said...

Wow, what pizza skills you have!

Looks awesome!

Lesley said...

Your marguerita pizza looks so wonderful. I love those. You did a wonderful job!

Lori said...

Lovet he toss pictures. You were really getting the hang of it. And satay pizza, yum, great idea.

Vera said...

Your tossing is great, Jo! And what the adorable photo of your poor doggy! The pizzas look delicious!

Megan said...

Your dog is just too cute for words! I have two Shih Tzus as well - they are just the greatest!

Your topping choices were outstanding - very creative and very delicious!!

Thip said...

Wow, the pizza looks great!

Big Boys Oven said...

Amazing, all you turn out to be so lovely, I am sure they are really delicious! well done.... beware of my flying dough!

Eat4Fun said...

Great job on your pizza tossing slide show! Your pizzas look absolutely delicious!

javapot said...

Love your tossing pix. Staring at your cheesey slice of pizza is making my mouth water!!!
I thought the satay pizza was very cute and authentic too with the skewers!!!

Barbara Bakes said...

Thai pizza is a great idea!

Maggie said...

Your dog is adorable! I bet he loved the attention. The stringy cheese shot of the salami pie makes me so hungry!

Lynn said...

Wow, your pizzas are amazing. I love the classic Margherita pizza. I wish the frost hadn't killed my basil. I am jealous. A really impressive post. Well done.

Jo said...

Hi everyone, many thanks for dropping by. I had such fun with this month's challenge (and that includes Milo my shitzu as well). By the way, he actually wanted to have a bite of the pizza dough!

Jude said...

Great post! I love all of your colorful pictures and your dog is so cute!

Clumbsy Cookie said...

Oh wow I love the flying pizza! And great toppings too!

Jane said...

Oh poor doggie! I hope s/he didn't really get hit with a flying pizza. My cats know enough to stay out of the kitchen when I'm working on things like this.
Your pizzas look great (and I think I'm going to try that Renang recipe w/ Jackfruit. Thanks!)
Jane of

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