October Daring Baker’s Challenge: Pizza!

October 29, 2008 at 12:00 am | Posted in Daring Bakers | 6 Comments

This month’s challenge was definitely a fulfilling one. There is something blissful about kneading dough and then “tossing” it around and then WOO, the smell in the air while its baking?? My inner Italian grandmother (though its really a Mexican abuelita inside me 😉 ) was really coming to life! The spread of pizzas made this month ranged from a pesto-tomato confit one (seen below) to cinnamon & sugar to simple tomato sauce and mozz to the ones I’m making tonight! – pear and gorgonzola, and squash, red onion, and red pepper with a balsamic reduction!

This post is very picture heavy – be prepared!! So come and enjoy some pizza with me…

First comes first, once you make the dough – you gotta throw it around! Here I am a bit frustrated??

Oh but it’s ALL GOOD!! Now just make sure not too make the middle part toooo thin or else you will have very floppy slices.

So now back to cooking… these are my beefsteak tomatoes: skinned, depulped and cut into petals. Then I placed a sliver of garlic and a sprig of fresh thyme (yay JFX farmer’s market!). Place these babies into a 250 degree oven for 1.5 hours, to dry them out and cook them a bit. Then place into a tupperware and submerge into olive oil. Leave overnight in the refridgerator. This completes the tomato confit!

Also on this pizza is pesto and freshly shaved mozzerella cheese. To make the pesto take ~2 cups fresh basil leaves, 3 medium garlic cloves & 1/4 cup pine nuts (both toasted up on a dry hot skillet for a minute or two), 7 tbsp evoo and some salt (to taste) and pulse up in a food processor. Then stir in 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese and enjoy!

I almost died when I tasted this amazingness. Who knew….Of course I knew! Fresh and simple ingredients are always triumphant!

Here is my sweet variety! It’s a simple mix of cinnamon, sugar and a good portion of butter! I think I should have cooked the pizza a little less so it could have turned out nice and soft like those Auntie Anne’s fantastic smelling pretzels from the mall…

This one was made with the Wegman’s chunky pizza sauce (I know! I’m a cheat!) and some more freshly shaved mozzerella. Should have added more cheese though… The smell of the tomato sauce cooking on the pizza made the apartment so heavenly.

Lastly, tonight we will be having some adventurous varieties! And the source of inspiration comes from Scotty and the fabulous Bawlmer pizza joint Iggie’s.

My favorite part about the veggie pizza was the squash! Who knew sauteed squash tasted so good with dough and cheese!  And as you can see below, my gorgonzola cheese made some bubbles as it cooked in the hot oven. I swear I added no soap!  Once it cooled down it looked much more appetizing and tasted delicious!

And now- the dough recipe!

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 bread flour, chilled
1 3/4 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Instant yeast
1/4 Cup Olive oil
1 3/4 Cups Water, ice cold
1 Tb sugar
cornmeal for dusting


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

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

4. 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)

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. Put the pan into the refrigerator and let the dough rest overnight or for up to thee 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.


8. 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.

9. 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.

10. 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.
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.

11. 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.

12. 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.

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

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.

14. 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.

Check out the rest of my daring bakers!



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  1. Your pizza also looks delicious. I’m glad you didn’t burn yours! I also like that we’re city-neighbors, and I love Wegmans chunky pizza sauce too. Actually I really just love Wegmans anything.

  2. I agree, apples and cheddar are delicious together! Next time I make that pizza I am going to pile the apples on more than I did.
    Your pizzas look yummy!!

  3. Looks great…. It is a bit frustrating to get that tossing started, isn’t it?

  4. Wow, you were really ambitious. I am impressed. Your pizzas look fabulous. Well done.

  5. I love the smell of dough rising and baking. Great job on your dough tossing!

  6. Your pizzas are SO PRETTY! You come up with the neatest ideas!

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