For this month's October Daring Baker's Challenge, the task was to make your own pizza dough, and TOSS it. The actual challenge is immortalising the "toss" for all to see. This month's challenge was hosted by Rosa's Yummy Yums. Sadly, one of the other persons who was supposed to co-host passed away.
This was the recipe, which I am abridging, for the instructions were as long as the Old Testament. I have also omitted the Gluten Free options, since I didn't use any of them.
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, 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
(I shuddered when I saw "DAY ONE", cos gasp, that meant needing (kneading) more than 1 day, which is 23 hours too much for me)
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.
[I just plonked my dough into the Magimix Food Processor using the dough hook attachment. Works like a dream]
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.
[I was surprised to see that the dough actually proofs in the fridge. I always thought Yeast required a warm place to work]
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 (again, I dread these kind of precision timing), 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. (this recipe obviously does not cater to working people, who come home from work and need to eat pizza immediately)
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.
9. 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.
Capturing a piece of flying dough on camera proved to be a harder task than expected, for the wife, who is not camera savvy. So I had to do a demonstration, on how to take the picture, while SHE, tossed the dough like a pizzaiolo. Obviously I won't be asking her to capture any shots of me doing a mid air sommersault from a high diving board.
Finally, after like 200 shots, (thank God for digital), I finally managed to get a pic of my dough in the air...
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 (LIGHTLY? WHAT'S THIS? THE LEANING POWER OF PIZZA? Nah, I like heavy fattening toppings) top it with sweet or savory toppings of your choice.
My toppings for the adult pizza were pure basil puree, homemade, plus a little bit of store bought pesto, mozzarella, avocado, luncheon meat, some leftover bacon and mushrooms....
And for the kids, a tomato paste, beef pepperoni, luncheon meat, and lots of mozarella.
NOTE: Remember that the best pizzas are topped not too generously. No more than 3 or 4 toppings (including sauce and cheese) are sufficient. [THIS NOTE WAS IGNORED, LIKE A DO NOT LITTER SIGN IN KUALA LUMPUR STREETS]
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.
The dough was nice, but to be honest, a LOT more work than I am used to, compared with my normal pizza dough that takes all of 5 minutes to put together.
Also, the tossing bit, I watched some youtube videos with demos, and it's a tough job. An acquired skill, for sure, much like the juggling of teppenyaki knives and bottles for bartenders.... dexterity and hand eye coordination is a prerequisite, which sadly, I have not.
At the end of the day, everyone enjoyed the pizzas, so it was a worthwhile endeavour. Thanks again Rosa for hosting.