We’re Mess’n with Pizza!

by Michelle on October 29, 2008

Well here we are for another round from Daring Bakers! I was so happy to hear that our monthly challenge was pizza! Our Daring Baker hostess this month is Rosa of Rosa’s Yummy Yum. Thank you so much Rosa!!

For my topping I chose the last of our fresh tomatoes from our garden and the last of my basil too. I also added thin slices of red onion, garlic, lots of mozzarella cheese, a sprinkling of tarragon, fresh mushrooms and thin slices of my last sweet purple pepper. This is the first time I ever sprinkled tarragon but it was so good with the garlic, basil and tomatoes, I’m sure I will use tarragon again!

Basic Pizza Dough
Recipe adapted from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread by Peter Reinhart

Makes 6 pizza crusts (about 9-12 inches).

4 1/2 c. flour
1 3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp instant yeast
1/4 c. olive oil
1 3/4 c. water, ice cold (40°F/4.5°C)
1 Tbsp sugar
semolina/durum flour or cornmeal for dusting

DAY ONE

Mix together the flour, salt and instant yeast in a big bowl. 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. 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. The finished dough should be springy, elastic, and sticky, not just tacky, and register 50°-55°F/10°-13°C.

Flour a work surface or counter. Line a jelly pan with baking paper/parchment. Lightly oil the paper. 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). Sprinkle some flour over the dough. Make sure your hands are dry and then flour them. Gently round each piece into a ball. 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. Put the pan into the refrigerator and let the dough rest overnight or for up to thee days.

DAY TWO

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.

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). If you do not have a baking stone, then use the back of a jelly pan. Do not preheat the pan. 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. Make only one pizza at a time! 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. 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. You can also resort to using a rolling pin, although it isn’t as effective as the toss method.

When the dough has the shape you want (about 9-12 inches in diameter – for a 6 ounces), 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.

Lightly top it with sweet or savory toppings of your choice. Remember that the best pizzas are topped not too generously. No more than 3 or 4 toppings (including sauce and cheese) are sufficient. 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. After 2 minutes baking, take a peek. For an even baking, rotate 180°.

If the top gets done before the bottom, you will need to move the stone or jelly pan 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 jellyroll pan. 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.

I wanted to get 1 picture which included my pizza cutter. I LOVE….LOVE….LOVE my pizza cutter and use it almost every day. It’s great for cutting sandwiches, bread sticks and even pie crust! If you don’t have one, get one soon!

All Rights Reserved 2008 © Big Black Dog

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Comments

  • kat October 29, 2008 at 7:27 pm

    yum your pizza looks tasty!

  • Lynn October 29, 2008 at 10:21 pm

    You are so lucky to still have tomatoes and basil from your garden. The frost got to mine. Drat! Your pictures look fabulous and your pizzas look divine! Great job!Plus, I have a Big Black Dog myself…and a big yellow dog and a big chocolate dog and a big red dog!

  • Shari October 29, 2008 at 11:48 pm

    Your pizza sounds so fresh and tasty. And I love your enthusiasm for your pizza wheel! I’ll have to start using it to cut the kids’ sandwiches!

  • Maggie October 30, 2008 at 12:41 am

    I’ve never had tarragon on pizza but it looks wonderful. I’ll have to give it a try.

  • Ben October 30, 2008 at 2:10 am

    I think everybody was happy with this challenge. It was so much fun and your toppings sound delicious!

  • giz October 30, 2008 at 2:25 am

    Look at all that glorious cheese. You did a fantastic job of that pizza. I never eat pizza – the learning is never say never. Now I’m hooked.

  • Natashya KitchenPuppies October 30, 2008 at 3:37 am

    Welcome back! Love the pizza, great job. You can’t go wrong with fresh herbs.

  • MaryMary October 30, 2008 at 4:35 am

    I’m impressed that you still have so much in your garden! The pizza looks phenomenal!

  • Lucy..♥ October 30, 2008 at 5:11 pm

    Michelle, your pizza looks fabulous and I too use my pizza cutter for many uses. A great tool to have for sure!What happened to catching the flying dough into the chandelier so you could take the photo LOL!! 😉

  • Andrea Meyers November 1, 2008 at 4:40 pm

    You have a beautiful pizza, and congrats for using some of your garden produce! Nicely done!

  • http://www.healthyvegankitchen.com November 2, 2008 at 4:32 am

    Your pizza looks so good. Its so nice to use veggies from the garden, but so sad when they are all gone. Your use of tarragon is interesting, I bet it tasted fresh!

  • Lisa November 2, 2008 at 5:11 pm

    Gorgeous pizza pie and photos. I have the same pizza cutter, and I LOVE it too :)

  • Ivy November 6, 2008 at 7:22 pm

    Great job! Very inspiring. I have been wanting to make my own pizza dough but have been too afraid. I just go for the Boboli dough. :0

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