Friday, October 31, 2008

Trick or Treat Pizza!

IMG_2346 IMG_2350 IMG_2359 IMG_2354 IMG_2358 IMG_2357

Here is my pizza dough effort! As you can see this will nourish the million kids who are coming for dinner before they go out trick or treating tonight.

The only issues I had were that the dough got a little tacky at times and blobbed up in places so it was not done in some spots and I did not wish to overcook the thin parts. But I will learn!

Enjoyed myself, made the kitchen quite a mess.

I look forward to November...

- Katie

Pizza, the Opiate of the Masses; or, Jacques Cousteau’s Pizza Adventures

I daresay that pizza is one of the most American foods in existence. Yes, its origins lay in Italy, but I have never been anywhere in this nation of ours that didn’t have at least one pizza parlor or pizza delivery. I’ve eaten pizza in Clinton, Missouri, Iowa City, Iowa, and Ogallala, Nebraska—and, folks, I doubt one can get more American than any of those places.

Given pizza’s ubiquity, I was never much inclined to make it myself. Not with such a wide variety available. New York thin crust. Chicago deep dish. Wood-fired. Grilled. With Thai chicken or barbecue sauce. And the whole world of yeast dough never truly caught my eye, at least, not in a savory capacity.

So along comes the Daring Bakers’ October challenge, ready to topple me from my complacency.

Thats amore

Admittedly, I had noble and high ambitions for the pizza. Sweet pizza was even considered. A multitude of toppings. The tabula rasa of bread dough. And then the month stretched on, time was short, and, ultimately, I opted for a not particularly innovative but exceptionally tasty quasi-Greek concoction of homemade sauce (courtesy of Z.), sautéed red bell peppers and sweet onion (also courtesy of Z.), topped with feta (he crumbled the cheese, too—so basically, I just made the dough and stood around looking distracted).

Part of the challenge was that we had to toss the dough in the air. I watched, for about three seconds, some pizza-tossing competition on the Food Network before changing channels to see what poor fashion slob received a tough love makeover from Stacey and Clinton. So, with this scanty knowledge, and a little YouTube research, I attempted my own pizza tossing.

When the moon hits your eye

The manta ray you see floating above my hands is, in fact, supposed to be a lovely circle of pizza dough gently wafting through the air. Perhaps because the kitchen was exceptionally warm, or perhaps the fault lies not in the temperature but ourselves, but the dough was much too soft for tossing. It turned into the aforementioned manta ray. So I shoved the ball of dough aside and simply pressed out the remaining crusts with my hands. Much better. Z. took the blob of unsuccessfully tossed dough, formed it into balls, drizzled some olive oil on them, and topped with a dab of tomato sauce and cheese. Into the oven with all of it. The pizzas had the added benefit of baking on a genuine pizza stone, while the dough balls (hee!) baked on a jelly roll pan.

The result: very tasty. We shoved those pizzas into our gullets and drank some retsina (thank you, P.) and considered the evening a success. I still have dough frozen in the freezer, for future use. If I am ever so inclined.

But I’m still keeping the pizza delivery menu close to the phone.

I remain,
Your servant, &c.

Daring Bakers, my second challenge!

Well, I have actually made this pizza dough before and I loved it. Last time I did it in the oven on the back of cookie sheet on parchment, and it worked out very well, but it did heat my kitchen up to ungodly tempratures. So, this time around I thought that I would channel some Bobby Flay and make my pizza on the grill. It worked out wonderfully. Tossing pizza dough turns out to be a skill that I do not have, but I did toss it back and forth in my hands and coax it into a somewhat unifrom amoeba shape. We made all six dough balls, there were 3 of us eating and we wanted some leftovers for lunch the next day.

We made garlic bread pizza, just add garlic butter, and parmesean. This was a hit with everyone. Everyone made their own, so i'm not sure what all the toppings were but I had artichoke and mushroom pizza with lots of cheese. I will defiantley use this dough again, and I loved making it on the grill, it was really easy and a lot of fun! It also allowed for me to make 2 -3 pizzas at a time, which is nice when you are making personal sized pizzas.

- Kelly

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Daring Bakers Pizza Challenge

Never shy of a culinary challenge, I was immediately drawn to the idea of making and tossing my own pizza dough. After viewing several You Tube entries of experts tossing pizza dough, I humbled myself to the fact that it wouldn’t be easy. But surely, with some practice, I too could hurl a piece of dough into the air, watch it swirl above my head, widening as it spins, only to be caught by my eagerly awaiting hands on its way down!

The dough was made and sitting pretty in the fridge. You can find the recipe here: Rosa's Yummy Yums. I loved the silky texture as I was kneading it. I prefer to use my God-given hands, and not a dough hook to make sure all ingredients are blended. (It’s also very therapeutic!) I was ready and eager with my dear friend, Chantal, at hand with the camera.

As I attempted to lift one of the dough rounds, it stretched and exhibited a beautiful lace pattern, holes and all! It stretched so much, that it looked like an exuberant Medieval sleeve around my wrist - not at all favorable for a pizza dough ready to be tossed! After a nervous laugh and in a panic, I quickly kneaded it a little and let it sit for a few minutes.

Fortunately, the dough came together and I was in business. I spread it out carefully so I could get the backs of both hands underneath it. I set my feet as if I was about to sprint in the 100m dash, and after I took a few deep breaths, off it went towards the ceiling! It spun at a 45 degree angle for only a couple of seconds, and came back bigger than it was when it lifted off. I felt the swell of success as Chantal cheered me on!

I tossed the remainder of the dough rounds similarly. Most of them spun at a 45 degree angle, so I’m interested to learn the correct tossing technique so that I too can balance the horizontal hat-shaped dough on one little finger!

I shaped the dough on a pizza paddle generously sprinkled with semolina flour. Now for my two toppings (thanks, Chantal for the tips, pictures and being fun to be with!):

Gorgonzola, Walnut Arugula Pesto, Caramelized Onion and Fresh Pear Pizza
It’s a mouthful, but it’s the most delicious pizza we’ve ever tasted! This will be enough for 2 pizzas.

For the Gorgonzola Sauce:
1 cup heavy cream
½ cup Gorgonzola Dolce
Boil cream on medium-low heat in a small saucepan until thickened. Add Gorgonzola and cook until thick and creamy. Set aside to cool.

For the Caramelized Onion:
1 large onion, halved and sliced thinly
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Sauté onion in a little olive oil until brown. It will take about 10 minutes. Add balsamic vinegar and stir well. Set aside.

For the Walnut Arugula Pesto:
½ cup walnuts
1 clove garlic
1 large grabby handful of fresh arugula
½ cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Place walnuts, garlic and arugula in a food processor. Process until chopped up. Slowly add olive oil and blend well. Season with salt and pepper.

You will also need 1 ripe but firm pear (we used Yellow Bartlett). Slice it into thin wedges.

Here’s how we layered the pizza toppings: First we spread some Gorgonzola sauce evenly on the dough. Then we added a layer of caramelized onions. Next we dolloped the walnut arugula pesto here and there, and topped the pizza with slices of the pear. Bake as directed and you will enjoy a crispy thin-crust pizza with a symphony of velvety Gorgonzola, sweet onions, spicy pesto and juicy pear.
C’est magnifique!

Roasted Tomato, Poblanos and Chorizo Pizza
Our bold south-of-the-border version. Enough for 2 pizzas.

For the roasted tomato sauce:
6 Roma tomatoes
2 poblano peppers
½ cup cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
Roast tomatoes and peppers on a grill until the tomato skins burst and pepper skins are charred. Put them in a pot and cover for a few minutes until the skins loosen. Carefully remove the skins.
Coarsely chop the tomatoes and put them in a pan with a little olive oil. Cook on medium-low heat until the sauce is thick and the liquid has evaporated. Season with salt and pepper and add cilantro. Set aside to cool.
Slice the peeled poblano peppers into ½” strips and set aside to cool.

The chorizo:
½ lb Mexican style chorizo sausage, spicy or mild
Saute the chorizo over medium heat until cooked, breaking it apart. Drain the fat and discard. Set aside to cool.

You will also need 1 cup grated Mexican Oaxaca cheese.

Here’s how we layered the pizza toppings: First we spread the tomato sauce on the dough. Then we added the grated Oaxaca cheese, and a generous amount of chorizo. We topped it off with strips of roasted poblano peppers. Bake as directed and you will hear the Mariachis in the distance – enjoy!

- Dragana


This was my first DB challenge and I must admit that after seeing some of the previous challenges (crepe cake etc) I was very thankful for what appeared to be a relatively simple task.

So with such a simple task in mind who would have thought that 2 very valuable lessons could be learnt.
1. If your printer is broken and your writing down the recipe at least write it down correctly.
2. Once you have ensured you have written it down correctly make sure you read it through first.

So lesson 1 was soon learnt after using ¾ cups water as opposed to 1 ¾ cups. Thankfully I knew almost instantly that the mix was never going to combine and that there was a serious lack of liquid. A quick check later and lesson 1 was learnt.

Lesson 2 did not actually affect the overall result but on reading other peoples posts about completing the challenge I learnt small things like the recipe said to use cold flour. It didn’t seem to affect my dough but I might not be so lucky on future challenges.

I have made fresh pizza dough before but have always worked with warm water. I must admit I was a little dubious about using cold water and putting the dough in the fridge.

The recipe was simple to follow and the dough was soon nice and smooth and in the fridge to be left overnight. However, by this point serious impatience kicked in and I was dreaming about pizza.

I froze half the dough and intended on making 2 large pizza’s, one savoury and one sweet.

I decided to be a bit adventurous and attempt a stuffed crust pizza. My tossing technique left a lot to be desired but I did manage a not too imperfect circle with no holes so I cant have been too bad. I didn’t manage to get a tossing photo though.

I used grated mozzarella to stuff my crust with and placed it in a thin ring around the inside edge of the dough, wet the outer edge then rolled the dough over the cheese into the centre of the pizza to seal the cheese in. I used a tomato reduction for my base and topped with mushroom, salami and mozzarella. I cooked it on my pizza stone and was amazed at how thin and crispy the base was. Definitely an improvement on my previous pizza attempts with different dough recipes.

Unfortunately by the time we had eaten the pizza and I returned to do my sweet one something strange had happened to the dough, it was really big and smelt of strong yeast. I wasn’t sure it was still usable so my vanilla cream cheese apple crumble pizza was left with no dough. I still have a batch in the freezer though so may attempted it at a later date.

Overall I was very impressed with the dough recipe and it was a hit in my household. A successful first DB attempt.

- DM Bell

Pizza & Toppings

Thank you, Rosa, for such a yummy challenge! Peter Reinhart's pizza dough has been my go-to recipe when I crave pizza. I believe it to be far tastier than any pie ordered from the local pizzerias.


I had high hopes for perfecting the "toss", but alas my attempts were stymied by sticky and tearing dough. No worries, I'll keep trying and perhaps next time, enlist the help of a friend who's worked in a pizza shop.

Olivia (1)

I'm fortunate enough to live near the Zingerman's conglomerate, which offers pizza making classes at their Bakehouse. But I think I'll save the "tuition" $$ and splurge on yummy toppings instead. My pies were topped with a blend of cheeses, red onion, green olive, artichoke hearts, and fire roasted tomatoes.

Olivia (2)


Tossed, Topped and Tasted – Yum!

In my house, pizza night is always cause for celebration, and hardly ever cause for a call to the pizza shop. We love making pizza, from my husband who tossed pies in a pizza shop back in his college days, on down to my 5 and 3-year-olds, who always demand a piece of dough of their own. My specialty is grilled pizza, our answer to a hot kitchen in the summertime. I usually use a crust recipe from Cook’s Illustrated, but I was more than happy to try out a new one in the name of The Daring Bakers!

The path to pizza dough was not a smooth one. The first time I read the recipe all the way through was the day I intended to make it, not realizing it was a 2-day process. OK, try again. Then I realized that the yeast I have is not instant yeast, just the regular kind, so I had to tweak the mixing method a little bit, as I was unsure if my yeast would work if it wasn’t dissolved in water first. In the end my dough ball was nice and springy, soft, a bit stickier than what I’m used to. When I made my pizzas the next day the stickiness was gone, but the dough was still really soft, soft enough that I found it hard to work with. I attempted “the toss,” pretty poorly I must say. My husband wasn’t able to catch it on film, but we did get a picture of the mangled results. Oops!

Brook Picture 003 Brook Picture 003 (1)

I made 2 pizzas, and stashed the rest of the dough in the freezer for another time. The first was for the kids, topped with some leftover pasta sauce and mozzarella. I had to test it out of course – delish! The “grown-up” pizza was sauced with pesto made from this summer’s basil plants, then topped with roasted chicken, red bell peppers, grape tomatoes, and mozzarella. Fabulous! Of course I made my usual mistake and used too much sauce on both, but nobody complained. There were no leftovers.

Brook Picture 003 (2) Brook Picture 003 (3)

I liked the dough well enough, but I prefer my usual recipe, so I’ll be going back to it. Maybe next time I make it I’ll try tossing again, I might be better at it with a sturdier dough. But don’t worry, the extra crusts in the freezer won’t go to waste - I’m planning to cruise the Daring Bakers blogroll for some new topping ideas! Thanks to Rosa for a yummy challenge - looking forward to next month!

- Brooke

Do You Dare to Bake a Pizza?

Sometimes you really want to do something different. It doesn’t have to be as challenging, not really time consuming, Just different…

In my, lately, rather less than more interesting life I would really like some excitement. When I saw “PIZZA” I was little disappointed, as I bake pizza at least once a week for my pizza loving son.

But this crust…..I thought I knew about pizza dough. I didn’t. So thanks Rosa for it. And for challenging me for finding fun in everyday things. That has always been a hardest part. That’s also what we can all learn from Sherry’s blog, in whose memory this challenge is.

So that’s it: my tossing


and my pizza just before…


The Pizza Monster got it :)


I did the second pizza with tuna, corn and onions with tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese, but the photos went blur.

So thanks again Rosa and REALLY check this crust out one day. It’s worth to try.

- Ula

Pizza, an old friend

Duncan at Syrup and Tang first showed me how to make one successfully, many moons ago. Since then, I've stuck by the same recipe through thick and thin. Until... what's all this? The tossing method?! And...uh... putting it in the fridge overnight??

The dough presented little change from what I was used to, if a little saltier. I dutifully wrapped my kneaded ball of dough in plastic, I whipped it in the fridge. And lo.. the next day, it had doubled in size! Was that supposed to happen? I'm still not sure.

pizza dough wrapped

Then came the tossing. Much flour was spent. I tossed and I tossed, but alas, my ball of dough lengthened beyond the width of my oven, let alone my pizza tray. It just wouldn't go round. Out came my trusty rolling pin (minus the handles - I lost them years ago), and the dough was coaxed into shape.

My topping was not the most original idea, but I'd never tried it before myself. Prawns, feta and mozzarella, with a bit of fresh rosemary from the window garden box. The whole thing cooked fairly happily in the oven, a bit longer than prescribed given the thickness of my dough.

pizza finished

Lessons learnt:
1. Never freeze unshelled prawns. They're a bugger to unthaw and unshell!
2. Remember that when you're pizza comes outta the oven, it's ready for eating, whether your guests have arrived or not!
3. Taking photos of your pizza before you eat it requires a clean surface in the kitchen after the chaos of cooking is over! Not as simple as it sounds...

- Harry

I use to buy dough from a local pizza shop. Not anymore…

The first time I tried the dough something just wasn’t right. To this day, I can’t figure out what went wrong. There were pea sized dry bits throughout the dough. The dough never developed enough to pass the windowpane test. I baked some of if off. It was bland cardboard with peas of hard uncooked dough. The birds wouldn’t even eat it.

The second attempt was beautiful dough. I found myself thinking about the first attempt as I added each ingredient. Did I use iced water first time or warm tap? Maybe I grabbed vinegar instead of olive oil. I got over it almost as soon as I started to knead.

Tossing – move away from the island and those low hanging lights. Instead of my pizza stone, I took an opportunity to try a trick from Alton. I used the drip pan of a terra cotta pot. This worked very well! It is cheaper than replacing my pizza stone when they break.

One pizza was sauced with a homemade tomato sauce, mushrooms, pepperoni and a mozzarella/cheddar mix. A second pizza was olive oil, arugula, prosciutto and shaved parmesan. A third pizza was made for a dessert (walnuts, gorgonzola and honey). The remaining dough was used for frozen pizzas.
Will I start making my own dough? Yes! Everything about the second attempt dough was better than the dough I purchase. It isn’t hard to pull together if I know a pizza day is coming up.

Thanks for motivating me to try it myself.

- Ginny

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I made the pizza right at the beginning of the month. There is only one photo of the dough, none of toossing and throwing and none of the 12 pizzas we made. Most of them were salami pizza, because the children eat only these. As to the tossing an throwing - I din't get it. even after 12 pizzas they always were too thin in the middle and then got holes. So in the end I had to kneed the doughs once again and rolled it like usual. As to the dough, I will use this recipe in the future for my pizzas, even if it will take me years to manage the tossing and thowing. This were the most delicious crusts we ever had.

- Tanja

Daring Pizza Story

Hi everybody,
I feared I wouldn’t be able to complete my challenge due to my wrist surgery (last October 3), but I finally made it (in extremis).

I have no comments on day one, everything went without a hitch. Please refer to my comments on bad Belgian flours, posted at the nonbloggers blog . This time I used French “type 55” flour which is available at my supermarket. I didn’t need to add water or flour, the recipe was just perfect. I did NOT measure the dough’s temperature.
I made half the recipe, which I divided in two parts.

After exactly 24 hours in the fridge, I realised there had been a minor accident: one of the babies had remained partially uncovered for some time, and had therefore dried out a bit.
I wasn’t prepared to throw it away, though.
I continued to follow instructions, except I put some baking paper on my pizza peel and sprinkled that with durum semolina.

My friendly neighbour who was to come photograph the event (and eat pizza) came late, so my first try at tossing and photographing at the same time was not very successful.

I was, however, able to overcome my desperation and sort of spread this thingy onto my pizza peel in a roundish shape, which I covered with my simple (and delicious) tomato sauce and lots of mozzarella. Baking took about 7 minutes. My baking stone failed me (probably because I had only heated it for about 15 minutes instead of 45??), so the central part of the crust was slightly softer, but still delightful.

I coarsely chopped one SMALL onion (I meant to blend the finished sauce in any case), and lightly fried it in a little olive oil (1 ½ tablespoon, say). I added one clove garlic (chopped), then one can of cubed tomatoes (400g – 14 oz.), sugar to counteract the acidity (this depends on the brand of tomatoes – I need to taste; I used 1 Tbsp, but other brands need less), salt to taste, and some FRESH basil and marjoram. I’m a staunch believer in the superior tastiness of fresh herbs. Cook 3 minutes, blend, cool and use.

Friendly neighbour arrived just at this point in time, and immortalised my second (and possibly my last – if slightly more successful) try at tossing. No sooner had I caught the dough over my knuckles, after only one second of trying to turn it, it took a perfect round shape which I didn’t intend to spoil by more tossing and turning and spinning, so I delicately and lovingly placed it on my pizza peel.

Here I opted for a childhood favourite, white pizza; I simply put on a lot of mozzarella, chopped raw onion, and FRESH rosemary and marjoram. Some salt (my mozzarella is not salty), and on to the oven for about 9 minutes.

Same comment for pizza stone, same fantastic result in spite of all. PETER, YOU’VE DONE IT AGAIN! This recipe is great!!!!

And finally, this is what I was left with after my friendly neighbour took off with his share (he has 2 children at home, I only have one daughter and she’s in Madrid):

Conclusin: next time, hotter pizza stone, placed lower down in the oven. Nothing else to change, it is a perfect recipe.

- Milnead

This will be a late post..kinda..

I swear! I made it! BUT..

I'm on vacation in Disney World right now!! WOO HOOOOO..anyway..I will totally write a better post once i'm home. I made a BUNCH of pizzas, 9 to be exact, I had a bit of a pizza party with hubby's precinct. The cops totally loved it. I had a blast making it, BUT I'm having even more of a blast frolicking with Mickey Mouse!

Soon my dears, soon.


October Challenge: Pizza

I really enjoyed my second Baker's Challenge because it is something I would frequently bake for family dinners, if I became skilled at it. The dough was a breeze to make with my countertop mixer. I've had it for years and had never used the dough hook before! I like that the recipe made enough dough to stash some in the freezer for later, too. Stretching the dough and tossing it will take a little more practice, but it was a lot of fun, especially trying to get a photo of the dough airborne before its crash landing.

I topped the pizza with canned chunky vegetable spaghetti sauce, mozzarella cheese, red onions, sun-dried tomatoes and beef tenderloin. My family had been a fan of this topping combination at a local restaurant before it was taken off the menu. The finished result was delicious - just as we remembered. And...I have more dough in the freezer.

- Party Princess

October Challenge: Pizza

Here's what I made:

1) chorizo, mushroom and green pepper
2) red onion, roast pumpkin, baby spinach and brie cheese
3) basil, sundried and normal tomato slices, and bocconchini cheese.

I made all pizza's with a simple tomato sauce base, from one of the suggested websites, putting in heaps of dried herbs. Then covered the base with a sprinkle of motzerella cheese, for the sticky, stringy effect, so I didn't loose all the topping.

The dough was yum, but unfortunately I couldn't get my oven hot enough, just using a baking tray, to get a crisp crust all the way in the middle of the pizza, even though my tossing job had it stretched out VERY thin (sometimes hole-ey!).

I had friends round for a cocktail n pizza friday night, and it was enjoyed by all, not even a slice left over cold for the next day :( hehe.

I certainly like having the idea to keep the dough balls in the freezer tho. Very handy, and lucky when it makes so much. I'll be able to have a healthy homemade pizza on a week night now :)

- Monique

Holey Pizza!

I am not a pizza person so this October's daring bakers challenge is truly a challenge for me. This is the reason why I joined the Daring Bakers - to do recipes that I wouldn't normally do, to force me to make items that are not in my comfort zone.

Making the dough was easy, using the dough hook of the mixer really makes it so much faster and easier on the hands. Since I never made pizza dough from scratch or even used store bought dough before, I was not sure if the texture or consistency of the dough I made was right.

The next night I decided to head to my sisters place and have "Pizza Night". I did this because she has the pizza paraphernalia in her home - a pizza stone, corn meal, and a pizza paddle. I came with my dough and the various toppings I decided to put on the pizza. I made 6 kinds of Pizza: Olive oil/Anchovies/Roasted Garlic/Sauteed Mushrooms, 4 cheese, Olive oil/roasted garlice/Jamon Serrano/arugula/shaved parmesan cheese, Pepperoni, Italian sausage/mushrooms/onions/black olives and the last one was Olive oil/roasted garlic/sundried tomatoes/mozzarella/basil.

I loved how the crust was thin and crispy. I had a very hard time shaping the dough, I could not even attempt to do the tossing part! Some of the pizza dough had holes because it was very thin. Therefore, my pizzas all look odd shape. Nevertheless, my family liked it - flavor wise. This recipe is a keeper for me.

- Aleli