Hooray! Another savoury The Daring Bakers challenge for the month of October. This time round it was pizza. Why hasn’t anyone thought about this earlier? No darn layer cake (can you feel how relieved I was?). Please excuse the photos for this post, because it was literally a two minute job. As all food bloggers know, by the time you get to eat the food you’ve just done a modelling session with it is ice cold and there was no way I was going to let that happen to my pizza.
As for making it, it was an awful lot of faffing about. The mixing part was easy enough with the KitchenAid, but handling the dough was one messy business. It literally stuck to everything and in the good old days I would have kept on adding flour to it until it lost its tackiness but since then I’ve been told it’s not a good idea in principle. Therefore I was a good girl and followed the recipe religiously.
It was a very bad idea to let the pizzas proof on the worktop because after the required time elapsed it stubbornly stuck to the surface like bubblegum jammed on the sole of your shoe. Throwing the dough like a pizzaiolo was out of the question. The dough was glued to my fingers and if I mustered the courage to “throw” it, it would have stuck to the ceiling.
The dough ended up being smeared and pulled over the baking sheet. The final result tasted divine with the acidic tomatoes and artichokes cutting through the rich mozzarella making the flavours balance well in my mouth. The rest of the dough I saved for two days later but when I inspected it, it had formed a thick, dry crust on top and the soft part looked a bit dodgy to me. Would I make it again? No. My wonderful bread machine has spoilt me silly and the end-product turns out to taste just as good, so why bother going through all the hassle?
basic pizza dough
- 4 1/2 Cups (20 1/4 ounces/607.5 g) Unbleached high-gluten (%14) bread flour or all purpose flour, chilled
- 1 3/4 Tsp Salt
- 1 Tsp Instant yeast
- 1/4 Cup (2 ounces/60g) Olive oil or vegetable oil (both optional, but it’s better with)
- 1 3/4 Cups (14 ounces/420g or 420ml) Water, ice cold (40° F/4.5° C)
- 1 Tb sugar
- Semolina/durum flour or cornmeal for dusting
Please note that this time I’m not supplying quantities for the topping recipe, simply because each person has strong preferences as to how much of what goes onto his pizza; let him/her decide – just make sure you have enough!
- Your favourite tomato base (I like to use Fresh Simmered Tomato Sauce)
- A huge wedge of mozzarella
- A tin of globe artichokes, drained and quartered
- A jar of sundried tomatoes in olive oil
- Mix together the flour, salt and instant yeast in a big bowl (or in the bowl of your stand mixer).
- 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.)
- 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). (NOTE: To avoid the dough from sticking to the scraper, dip the scraper into water between cuts.)
- 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.)
- 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. (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.)
- 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). (NOTE: 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.
- 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.
- Lightly top it with sweet some tomato base, mozzarella, artichokes and tomatoes.
- 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.
- 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.
- Serving Size: 1 serving
- Calories: 421
- Sodium: 2 mg
- Fat: 10.3 g
- Saturated Fat: 1.5 g
- Carbohydrates: 71.5 g
- Fiber: 2.5 g
- Protein: 9.7 g