Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Pizza Pizza

I almost miss those Little Caesars commercials.

It is almost as though the Daring Baker gods that be were smiling down on our VeganMoFo-ness. This month's challenge was another no-alterations-needed project. This month we were to make pizza but not just make a pizza. Make real authentic pizza dough and attempt to do the dough toss.

Looking at everyone else posting their favorite pizzas over the month it was so hard to hold back. Yes I could have shared my favorite toppings but to be honest I still haven't nailed down my perfect pizza. I also didn't want two posts to be nearly the same so I held back. This dough does put me a little closer to the perfect pizza.

The dough is made over the course of two days but don't let that put you off. It's not a quick recipe but it's not hard either.

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 all purpose flour, chilled
1 3/4 tsp Salt
1 tsp dry yeast
1/4 cup olive oil or vegetable oil
1 3/4 Cups 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).

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 if you have one. 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.

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.

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.

Now I've never tossed a pizza dough and as it turns out my dough is a little soft so it's all too willing to be stretched. I got in a couple little bounces on the knuckles before it was ready to go. Any more and I would have been wearing dough bracelets. So that explains the wonky look of my pizzas. I made only two of the six for now. The remaining four doughs are in the freezer for another day so maybe I'll have better luck by the end of those.
This first dough was topped with roasted red pepper hummus, baby spinach, slivers of garlic, seitan strips and a sprinkling of oregano and basil.Pizza number two was topped with baby spinach (can't get enough of the green stuff), olive muffeletta (check out the Vcon recipe!), strips of roasted red peppers. This one was my fave. Oh god I love olives.


Anonymous said...

Your pizzas look really tasty!

VeganView said...

All these pizzas are making me want them so badly! Your dough looks so delish!

Virginia said...

now i crave pizza! they look delicious!

Carrie said...

Muffeletta on pizza! Yes! You're genius!

aTxVegn said...

Yay! That dough looks great and the toppings sound delicious!

Anonymous said...

Yum, they both sound delicious!

allularpunk said...

i've never tossed dough before... but it sounds fun! your pizzas look good :)

Tami (Vegan Appetite) said...

Great looking pizzas! I use that same crust recipe. It really is the best!

I'm with you on many combos to try and just not enough time to find the perfect one.

Anonymous said...

Toss the pizza dough?!?! Ha! Sometimes I'm lucky if I can even get it off the counter. Haha.

This dough looks well worth the work!

Marni said...

Holy pizza party, batman ... your pizzas look divine! I'd love a slice of the one topped with olive muffeletta from 'Nomicon. Perhaps I'll try that out with some of our extra dough. I froze a bunch for later as well.

Nicely done!

Mandee said...

Great looking pizzas!

And I always think "Pizza! Pizza!" whenever we have pizza because I saw the Little Caesar ad as a kid on a show we used to have here called "World's Funniest Commercials" or something like that!

Michelle said...

Those pizzas look really good! I always forget how fun it is to make pizza.

You should know that AA and I still crave the vegan pizza from Stone Soup from time to time, even with its old-school nutritional-yeasty topping! We'd try to get there by noon and hope for the best that it was ready!

Thank you for commenting on my post today. I responded in the comments to yours!


Amey said...

Congratulations Bex!
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Anonymous said...

Congrats! Those are some great looking pizzas!

tofufreak said...

mmm yummy! they both look awesome!!

Anonymous said...

Great challenge! I loved it, because I love making and eating pizza!

Debyi said...

Your pizza toppings sound sooo good! I have been wanting to try VO's muffelata recipe, now I have a great way to use it. Roasted red pepper hummus on a pizza, I never would've thought of that, but it sounds great. I love the rustic look of your crust too.