31 October 2008

Daring Bakers and Peter Reinhart's Pizza Dough

Unintentional hiatus aside, this month's Daring Baker's challenge, brought to us by Rosa from Rosa's Yummy Yums, Glenna from A Fridge Full of Food, and in memory of Sher from What Did You Eat? whose idea this was, is Peter Reinhart's pizza dough recipe from The Bread Baker's Apprentice. What makes this recipe unique is the overnight proofing, which develops both the gluten and flavor of the dough.

We had quite a bit of leeway when it came to this challenge, the only real requirements being that the recipe had to be followed exactly, we had to try and take a picture of ourselves... Tossing two out of six pieces of dough had to be fully tossed in the air. I know. But I've really wanted to do it, and I sort of have been tossing the dough before, just not fully.

Here are the disks of dough after the 2-hour post refrigeration proofing time. The dough was really soft, and you could tell by feeling it that it was going to be great.

That's the best picture of me that was taken. It seems really abstract.

I gave each piece about one full toss, any more would have resulted in an epic failure.

I used leftover spaghetti sauce instead of the normal fresh tomato sauce I typically use, but it tasted really great, albeit it was chunky and hard to spread. The toppings for two of the pizzas were sautéed portobello mushrooms and sliced black olives.

The other two had black olives, mushrooms, and pepperoni.

The pizza look very authentic, which I was pleased with. The crust was crispy on the outside and slightly moist and chewy inside. I made each pizza about 12-inches in diameter, resulting in a very thin bottom crust. Probably 9-inches would have been better, but since I was cooking these on a baking stone I didn't worry about it.

Here you can see the crust innards and the underside of the pizza. The caramelization of the sugars in the dough made the color gorgeous. I was a bit overcautious and used too much flour to keep the dough from sticking, and there was an essence of browned flour with each bite. Oops.

For the last two dough pieces the next day at dinner, I used a Cooking Light recipe for Spinach and Caramelized Onion Pizza, which consisted of an garlicky white sauce on the bottom. I added pepperoni.

While the flavorings were delicious, the bottom crust was much too thin to handle the toppings. I didn't upload the pizza, but the bottom crust never fully cooked and it looked like wonton wrappers. I didn't bake these on a baking stone, however, because I was afraid that an accident would occur due to the toppings. If I made 4-5 balls of dough instead of six, it probably would be better able to handle a few more toppings.

I was grateful for this challenge because I finally made an overnight pizza dough. I'm sold, and I will definitely come back to this recipe in the future.

Basic Pizza Dough
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
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 Tbsp sugar
Semolina/durum flour or cornmeal for dusting

Day One

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.

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.

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.

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.

NOTE ON SAUCE: Your sauce (any) should not be too thick as it will thicken in the hot oven. Less is more but make the less truly more by using quality ingredients.

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