Well… not so daring pizza. Putting tomatoes, cheese and oregano on top of a crust and stopping there does not equal adventurous. But I did throw my pizza dough in the air, and I figure that’s daring enough. Please excuse the blurry photo. We did our pizza in the evening, and it’s getting dark SO early now. The winter darkness is coming!


As anyone who reads food blogs knows by now, this month’s Daring Bakers challenge, which was hosted by Rosa at Rosa’s Yummy Yums, was pizza dough, a recipe that required two days of waiting and nearly no work, except for the exciting part where I threw pizza dough all around the kitchen. Highlights include: dropping dough on the ground, and finally figuring out how to toss pizza without throwing it on the ground, and being happy that my kitchen floor is clean (yes, we ate it anyway). Oh, and a home-made evening. With our pizza, we drank beer that Carlo and my dad made (post from Carlo soon, I hope). ON our pizza we had oregano we grew ourselves this summer, oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes made by a (very excellent, obviously) friend, and…. home made mozzarella! Yes, we made cheese. It was the highlight of the cooking course we just finished. More on this very, very soon, as my camera is heavy-laden with cheese photos. The dough was a Peter Reinhart recipe, and I was very impressed. It was soft and very easy to work with (except for its tendency to fly around the kitchen while I was tossing it, which, in fairness, I can’t blame on the dough), with fantastic flavour. The final product managed to be tender and crispy at the same time, and very, tantalizingly, wonderfully thin.


We used this sauce: Sun-Dried Tomato Sauce 1 28-oz. can of diced tomatoes, drained 6 oil-packed sundried tomatoes, (use more or less to your taste) 3-4 cloves of roasted garlic (click link for garlic-roasting technique) salt to taste Place all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor, pulse them a few times, taste and adjust seasoning to taste. That’s it! Here’s the dough recipe: Basic Pizza Dough 6 Pizza crusts (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter). 608 g Unbleached high-gluten (%14) bread flour or all purpose flour, chilled 1 3/4 Tsp Salt 1 Tsp Instant yeast 60 g Olive oil or vegetable oil 420 g Water, ice cold (40° F/4.5° C) 1 Tb sugar Semolina/durum flour or cornmeal for dusting As we are just two, I reduced the recipe as follows: makes 1 big or 2 pizza crusts 250 g flour 5 g salt 1 tsp gluten 1/4 tsp instant yeast 1 tb olive oil 140 g water, ice cold 1 tsp sugar DAY ONE Method: 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). NOTE: To avoid the dough from sticking to the scraper, dip the scraper into water between cuts. 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. DAY TWO 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/23-30cm 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. NOTE: 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 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.

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