Pizza (Daring Baker Challenge)

Mini apple & pistachio pizza with custard

This month’s challenge was hosted by Rosa from Rosa’s yummy yums and it was a very yummy indeed!

This was a real eye opener; I’ve always regarded pizzas as being glorified cheese-on-toast, fast food for the lazy. I’ve also considered pizza as being unhealthy and often swimming in melted greasy cheese (which also makes it ideal for mopping up the binged alcohol my teenage years…)

However, this DB Pizza recipe requires patience, accuracy & planning. I decided to experiment with normal dough as well as wheat free dough. Once I’d fixed a date in my diary, I got down to arduously mixing & kneading before popping the dough into the fridge to rest overnight. I had a sleepless night thinking up weird & wonderful pizza topping combinations, and when I finally did get to sleep I had a ‘cheese dream’… I decided to try out lots of different toppings, so required small amounts of lots of things. I already had 1/4 tin salmon, 1/2 a red onion, 2 cm zucchini, a mini egg plant, 3 mushrooms and 50 million bananas… bleary eyed at the deli counter I ended up buying 50g of cheese and about 8 olives, and picked up a squishy peach for 20p on my way home.

My wheat dough came out very soft & fragile so I was unable to do any tossing, my wheat-free dough came out very crumbly & kept falling apart. Not to be deterred, I carefully shaped the dough into rounds. I laden them with delicious sauce and sliced fruit & vegetables, topped off sparingly with cheese.

The wheat dough was something I’ve never tasted before in a pizza; light & chewy, an extremely delicious ciabatta – like texture. My wheat-free attempt on the other hand wasn’t so successful and ended up like a large squeaky cracker. My fault though, I didn’t pulverize my porridge oats long enough to form a fine enough oat flour. I also used glutinous rice flour instead of brown rice flour.

Savory toppings:

+ Chilli tomato sauce, peach, yellow pepper, courgette, olive & brie


+ Tomato sauce, yellow pepper, courgette, Edam on a wheat-free base (this was my first wheat-free attempt which didn’t quite work & turned into an octopus…)

+ Oyster sauce, salmon, red onion, mushroom, courgette, egg plant & brie on a wheat-free base

Sweet toppings:

+ Honey, banana, chopped pistachios, cinnamon


+ Custard, apple, melted dark chocolate mini pizza

I had a lot of fun making pizzas, and I’m definitely making these again soon! It’s a great way to use up random ingredients that you might have as little goes a long way.

Here’s the recipe:

~ 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).

Ingredients:
4 1/2 Cups (20 1/4 ounces/607.5 g) Unbleached high-gluten (%14) bread flour or all purpose flour, chilled – FOR GF: 4 ½ cups GF Flour Blend with xanthan gum or 1 cup brown rice flour, 1 cup corn flour, 1 cup oat flour, 1 ½ cup arrowroot, potato or tapioca starch + 2 tsp xanthan or guar gum
1 3/4 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Instant yeast – FOR GF use 2 tsp
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 – FOR GF use agave syrup
Semolina/durum flour or cornmeal for dusting


Day One

Method (For normal Pizza dough)

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.

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). Sprinkle some flour over the dough. Make sure your hands are dry and then flour them.  Gently round each piece into a ball.

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.

For Wheat-Free Dough

Mix together the flour, salt and instant yeast in a big bowl (or in the bowl of your stand mixer). Add the oil, sugar or agave syrup and cold water, then 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. 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). Sprinkle some flour over the dough. Make sure your hands are dry and then flour them.  Gently round each piece into a ball.

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.

Day Two
On the day you plan to eat pizza, exactly 2 hours before you make it, remove the number of desired dough balls from the refrigerator.  Place on a sheet of parchment paper and sprinkle with a gluten free flour. Delicately press the dough into disks about ½ inch/1.3 cm thick and 5 inches/12.7 cm in diameter. Sprinkle the dough with flour, mist it again with spray oil. Lightly cover the dough round with a sheet of parchment paper and 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.

For Normal Dough

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 or savory toppings of your choice. Place the garnished pizza on the parchment paper onto the stone in the oven or bake directly on the jelly pan. Close the door and bake for about 5-8 minutes.

For Wheat-Free Dough

Press the dough into the shape you want (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter – for a 6 ounces/180g piece of dough). 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 or savory toppings of your choice. Place the garnished pizza on the parchment paper 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.

RECIPE SOURCE:  “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice: Mastering The Art of Extraordinary Bread” by Peter Reinhart. Ten Speed Press, Berkeley, CA.  Copyright 2001.  ISBN-10: 1-58008-268-8, ISBN-13: 978-158008-268-6.

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14 responses to “Pizza (Daring Baker Challenge)

  1. Completely agree with you on the appeal of fruit on pizzas! I made mine with plums a while ago, and this time topped one of my pizzas w/Granny Smith apples.

    This was such a fun challenge!

  2. Well captured images, well chosen toppings, creative and adventurous. I’ll have the savory pizza please.

    You make me want to experiment in the kitchen!

    Thank you.

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