October Daring Bakers Challenge: Pizza!

October 29, 2008

This month’s Daring Bakers Challenge was a pleasure to complete and eat – pizza is always welcome in our house.  Having to complete two kinds of pizza, I decided to make a family favorite, pesto and shrimp, and something new for me, a gorgonzola and grape pizza.  As I have mentioned before, I have been intensely involved in a political campaign, so time has been a very precious commodity.  Homemade pizza, while seemingly daunting, is actually a wonderful option for busy cooks since total prep and cooking time is about a half hour.

IMG_2987 by you.

BASIC PIZZA DOUGH
Original recipe taken from “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice” by Peter Reinhart.

yield 3 large pizzas

Ingredients:
4 1/2 Cups Unbleached high-gluten (%14) bread flour or all purpose flour, chilled
1 3/4 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Instant yeast
1/4 Cup (Olive oil or vegetable oil
1 3/4 Cups  Water, ice cold
1 Tb sugar
Semolina/durum flour or cornmeal for dusting

DAY ONE

Method:
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.

4. With the help of a metal or plastic dough scraper, cut the dough into 3 equal pieces

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

IMG_2967 by you.

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.

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.

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).

10. Generously sprinkle a pizza peel with semolina or durum flour.   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.

       

Sadly, the evidence of my fabulous tossing was mostly cut off.  The resulting stretched out dough, however, is caught on film.

11. When the dough has the shape you want, place it on a floured pizza peel, making sure there is enough semolina/durum flour or cornmeal to allow it to slide and not stick to the peel.

12. Lightly top it with sweet or savory toppings of your choice.

13. Slide the garnished pizza onto the stone in the oven.  Close the door and bake for about 5 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.

********

I chose to make this grape pizza since it’s very similar to a favorite hors d’oeuvre I make often for parties (roquefort grapes).  This recipe is more an appetizer than a main course, but very delicious.  I love the combination of the strong salty gorgonzola combined with the carmelized sweetness of the grapes.  The pizza dough recipe is a definite keeper – crispy yet soft and chewy.  Perfection!

IMG_2970 by you.

Gorgonzola and Grape Pizza (from Epicurious)

Pizza dough

1/3 cup Vin Santo
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 cups red seedless grapes (9 oz), halved lengthwise
5 oz Italian Fontina, rind discarded and cheese cut into 1/4-inch dice (1 cup)
2 oz Gorgonzola dolce, crumbled
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

Bring Vin Santo with sugar to a boil in a small heavy saucepan over moderate heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved, then boil, uncovered, until reduced to about 1 tablespoon, about 5 minutes. Add grapes to saucepan and stir gently to coat with syrup, then transfer to a bowl. Add cheeses and pepper to bowl, then stir to combine.  Spread on pizza dough and bake for about 5 minutes.
IMG_2977 by you.

The second pizza was a pesto, mozzarella and grilled shrimp pizza that lasted about 3 minutes before my children inhaled it.  Pesto is staple in our house and I make variations of pesto pizza regularly.

Thanks to our host Rosa for an excellent challenge. It was wonderful to take time to refocus on food and cooking after a couple of months of focusing on everything but.

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24 Responses to “October Daring Bakers Challenge: Pizza!”

  1. Ruth Says:

    Your pizzas look great. You look like you had the tossing down. Both of your pizzas sound delicious!

  2. Amy Says:

    MMMM. gorgonzola and grape? Scrumptious!

  3. Aparna Says:

    Gorgonzola and grape sounds most interesting and it looks beautiful.


  4. I must say the gorgonzola and grape pizza sounds very very good! great choice!

  5. Rosa Says:

    Great tossing pictures! Both your pizzas look delicious and really beautiful! Very well done!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  6. Jo Says:

    Fantastic tossing of the dough. It’s a wonder you managed to get it that large. Great pictures and flavours to your pizzas as well.

  7. Lorrie Says:

    omg! You shrimp pizza looks amazing!

  8. Marija Says:

    Wonderful pizzas! Such beautiful toppings. The one with the grapes looks amazing!

  9. Lynn Says:

    I love the idea of shrimp. I am impressed that you attempted the toss. Good for you.


  10. Great job! I agree, pizza is a great option for busy families!

  11. Medhaa Says:

    lovely pictures, they still look good..

  12. Ethan Says:

    Wow, the grape pizza is brilliant. I am definitely going to steal that idea. Thanks. Pesto was a must on our pizzas too, especially with the basil overflowing in the yard.


  13. I will say it again, I love your blog! I’ve never tried tossing pizza dough. Maybe I should start….

    Keep up the great work!

  14. Lisa Says:

    Welcome back!! Have missed your blog entries. But mmmm the pizzas look fantastic. That grape & Gorgonzola sounds really interesting… would love a taste! 🙂

  15. Kelly Says:

    Yum. Both of those pizzas look delicious. I love seeing how different what everyone made was. The gorgonzola and grape pizza looks a-m-a-z-i-n-g to me. I’ve been doing only vegan cooking and baking all month so no blue cheese for me, but may have to try this as soon as it’s November.

  16. Dragon Says:

    I can’t figure out which pizza I like best. So, I’ll take a slice of both. Great job!

  17. Mary Says:

    I’m a big fan of the sweet and salty combo as well. The grape pizza looks like such a fabulous idea…love it!

  18. Cynthia Says:

    Ok, I am SO making the grape/gorgonzola tomorrow!

  19. Sophie Says:

    You know, I’ve never even thought about adding shrimp to my pizza but I can easily see how it would work, it sounds so delicious. Shrimp has such great texture and flavor that I know would pair well with that cheese! YUM. I also love the idea of adding grapes to the sweet one, how unique and tasty :).

  20. Molly Says:

    Great tossing, as the result testifies, and what an incredible idea – grapes and gorgonzola on a pizza.

  21. Mrs Ergül Says:

    I love the pesto shrimps pizza! It looks very very appetizing!

  22. Ivonne Says:

    Nice toss! I love the pesto and shrimp verson!

  23. natalia Says:

    Ciao ! you pizza with gorgonzola must be fantastic !I’ll try it next time !!!

  24. marion Says:

    whaow ! that’s tossing !!!!!! you’re a profesionnal 🙂
    I love the gorgonzola abd grape tossing, maybe I’m going to toss again for dinner 😉


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