Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Pizza My Heart

Wow..what can I say about this pizza crust. It was more than what I expected it to be and then some. The crust baked up perfectly. Crisp on the outside but tender on the inside. It made me look (and feel) like a gourmet chef. Everyone that had the pizza raved about it.

Because of the nature of my blog I had initially decided to make a dessert pizza but then I thought that it would be such a waste of good dough since I love pizza so much and so does everybody else in my household.
I decided to make a chicken and mushroom pizza but when I realised that I forgot to buy mushrooms I used Hawaiian stir fry vegetables instead. I also found this recipe for a great sauce on the Internet which turned out to be really great.

The first time I read the challenge I somehow overlooked the part where we were required to toss the pizza dough instead of rolling it. I thought to myself I would never even considered this cause I would hate to waste whatever dough ended up on the kitchen floor. It wasn't until I found this great video on YouTube that inspired me to give it a go.

My great intentions of tossing the dough fell flat since my dough didn't seem elastic enough and was on the delicate side. I don't know if I didn't need it long enough or if I needed to add more was so delicate that I didn't even need to roll it. I just stretched to size and that worked perfect for me.

There were a few good things that I learned about making pizza. Like how it is necessary to brush the dough with a little olive oil (or vegetable oil I suppose) before adding the sauce and toppings as this helps prevent the dough from getting soggy while it bakes.

I also learned the correct order of adding toppings - I didn't even know there was an order. Oil first, then sauce (not too much otherwise your pizza will be soggy), then cheese, then toppings and then more cheese if you want. I also learned that you should use more of the milder cheeses like mozzarella or Gouda and less of the stronger sharper cheeses like cheddar.

This pizza turned out so great and the dough was excellent. After making this I realised that if you want to have a good pizza then you need to have a good crust.

I've fallen in love all over again.

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)
  • 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


  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). 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.


  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/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 re-flour 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 about 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.
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.
SAUCE IDEAS: Pestos, white or brown sauce, tomato sauce, sour cream, thick cream, Bolognese sauce, etc…Check here for sauce recipes:
TOPPING IDEAS: Seafood, fish, meat (dry, cured, smoked or ground), cheeses (Gruyère, Gorgonzola, Mozzarella, Provolone, Ricotta, Maroille, Munster, etc…), nuts, tofu, veggies (tomatoes, bell peppers, artichokes, hearts of palm, zucchinis, pumpkin, red onions, etc…), herbs (mixes, fresh or dried), spices (garlic, gourmet salt, pepper, curry, berbere, ras-el-hanout, za’atar, etc…), nuts (pecans, walnuts, cashew nuts, Brasil nuts, macadamia nuts, etc…)….

All-Purpose Marinara Pizza Sauce

The flavors are fresher and brighter in this sauce than they are in any commercially bottled or canned pizza sauce. Dried herbs are preferable to fresh herbs here, but if you want to use fresh herbs, sprinkle them on the pizzas either just before you put them in the oven or as soon as they come out. Also, if you do not have thyme or marjoram, you can substitute additional oregano or basil to taste. Makes about 6 cups
  • 1 can (28 ounces) tomato purée
  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons granulated garlic powder, or 10 cloves fresh garlic, minced or pressed, and lightly sautéed in the olive oil, above
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar or freshly squeezed lemon juice, or a combination
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
In a bowl, stir together all the ingredients, starting with 1/2 teaspoon salt and adding more to taste. Store in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Thanks to this months host Rosa for a great challenge. Hope you have as much fun as I did.


creampuff said...

Nice job on the pizza!

marion said...

I used the same taching lesson to understand how to toss, but i'm not that skilled :))))
Yours turned great ! congratulations

Diane said...

Thanks guys...I tried to toss my my dough was too delicate. Not sure why. :)

"Aphrodite's Friend" said...

i was about to say "hi cookie" as a greeting.. then realised how "cheesy" that would be.. so im just saying Hi! and complimenting you on a lovely site.. regards Steve

Diane said...

Thanks Steve. I'm glad you like it. :)

"Aphrodite's Friend" said...

hey! a blogger that knows how to comment! lovely! chat soon.. Steve