Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Daring Bakers - Pizza

Wow, usually I expect a few days of baking for a challenge, but this recipe was a welcome relief. 20 minutes to make the dough, stick it in the fridge, and a little pre-planning and you are ready to eat! I make pizza dough quite a bit, so this process is something I'm used to.

Having said that, I was not impressed with this dough. I like the Alton Brown recipe a lot, and it calls for lots of working the dough to get the baker's window (it usually takes about 15 minutes or so). This recipe only calls for 5-7 minutes of kneading. I was a bit leery, but I followed the recipe to the letter. To me, this dough doesn't have the structure that my recipe has. The stretching only took 2 tosses, as the dough was so relaxed it basically tossed itself.

I made 3 so far, the first was a BLT pizza. I added some ranch dressing as the sauce, then bacon, tomatoes, and mozzarella and baked for 7 minutes on a pizza stone. When it came out, I added some basil and lettuce to the top and served (the picture is before the lettuce). It was good, but the crust was bland. I think some more salt or some olive oil would have been a good addition.
The second pizza was for dessert, it was an apple pizza. I mixed some very thin apple slices, cinnamon, sugar, nutmeg, allspice, lime juice, and some ginger together and fanned it out on the pizza. I sprinkled the dough with some sugar, and baked it a little slower, at 400º for 15 minutes. This was very good, but the dough was still a bit bland.
Then, I branched out and made some cheesy breadsticks with some of the dough. I sprinkled parmigiana cheese and rosemary on the dough, and grilled it with some ribs on the bbq. They took about 10 minutes to cook. They were ok, still bland.
So, my opinion is that Alton Brown's recipe is much better. Check out my other post for my incarnation. Here is the recipe we used:


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 (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



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 tablespoons 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 about 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.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie - Pumpkin Muffins

I'm not usually a huge pumpkin fan, but I decided to give these a try. The pumpkin flavor is very subtle, and keeps the muffins very moist. I made half with raisins and half without, and I am glad I did that. I did not like the raisins, but my husband did, so who knows...

I would definitely make these again (no raisins), and they make me think of fall (even though it's still 85º here in Texas).

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Tuesdays With Dorie - Rewind

Everyone on the TWD blogs always raves about the Snickery Squares, so when last week was a rewind, I decided to try them out. And all the TWDers are correct, they are awesome!

They are a shortbread base, with duche de leche and candied peanuts in the center, and bittersweet chocolate and candied peanuts on the top. Very good, especially cold. The only issue I had was finding the duche de leche, but I'm stocked up now :)

I'm back! Butter Popovers and Blueberry Muffins

Wow, it has been a while since I posted on here! Over the past few weeks, I got the opportunity to go to Italy and sample some great food. But, now I'm back and will try to catch up on some recipes.

I made a few recipes from the Bread Bible, I'll post them both here.

First, I made the Butter Popovers. They were good, but really buttery. Usually I'm a fan of butter, but I think these were just over the top. They had a good texture though.

I also made the Blueberry Muffins for breakfast this weekend. They were very good. I used organic, frozen blueberries (they are usually smaller and work better for this recipe). The muffins are not as sugary as normal muffin recipes, and I like that as it lets the blueberry taste really come through. I would definitely make these again.