Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Daring Bakers October Challenge - PIZZA!


October is National Pizza Month and the Daring Bakers celebrated by making pizza! I was very excited for this challenge because of one of the stipulations - we must toss at least 2 of the pizzas and photograph ourselves doing so! I have never tossed pizza dough and was looking forward to trying. The recipe provided makes 6 pizzas (about 9") so I figured even if some of the dough landed on the floor I would still have enough pizza!

In order to get pictures of myself tossing the dough, I needed to have someone to take the pictures (Erica, as always, you are awesome!). And, like I said, the recipe makes 6 pizzas so I need friends to eat it, too! So... I hosted the first of what will be many pizza nights!

Monica, Erica, and Britteny came over and we all tried our hand at tossing the pizza. It was such a blast, NONE of the dough landed on the floor, and we ended up with 6 really good looking, round pizzas! WE ROCK! :) Try tossing the dough next time you make pizza. It was actually MUCH easier than rolling it out!

My first attempt... Not too shabby!

A little worried, but it all worked out!

Britteny rocking the toss!

Erica making it look like a piece of cake!

Perfect hand positioning, Monica!

So, now that the tossing is out of the way, it is time to get to the 6 amazingly delicious pizzas. Yes, we made all 6! But, in our defense we had 4 adults, 2 three year olds, a 10 month old, an 8 month old, a 6 month old, and a 5 month old in the house. Okay, so some of the younger babies obviously didn't eat the pizzas, but still. We needed a lot of food!

Here are the pizzas:

Basic Pepperoni with Tomato Sauce

The top ranking pizza of the night: Pesto sauce
with artichoke hearts, olives, mozzarella, and

Spinach and Feta with Tomato Sauce
and Kalamata olives

BBQ Chicken Pizza with Gouda

And of course you need dessert....

Pumpkin Cream Cheese "Sauce" with

Sliced Granny Smith Apples, Walnuts, and

Caramel Sauce Drizzle

Nutella and Bananas... SHOCKER!

We enjoyed all of the pizzas and had a blast making them! The recipe for the dough was FANTASTIC! It will be my go-to recipe from now on. The best part is that you can freeze the dough for up to 3 months and you can have fresh pizza whenever your heart desires!

October's challenge was hosted by Rosa of Rosa's Yummy Yums and was in honor of Sher of What Did You Eat? who passed away earlier in the year. Thanks for choosing an awesome challenge! It was a lot of fun! Don't forget to check out the DB Blogroll to see all the delicious pizzas and check out the tossing skills!


Original recipe taken from “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice” by Peter Reinhart Makes 6 pizza crusts (about 9-12 inches)


4 1/2 Cups Unbleached 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 (40° F/4.5° C)

1 Tb sugar

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 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, 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 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 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), place it on the back of the jelly pan, making sure there is enough 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. Place 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.

NOTE: Remember that the best pizzas are topped not too generously. No more than 3 or 4 toppings (including sauce and cheese) are sufficient.

14. 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.

NOTE: After 2 minutes baking, take a peek. For an even baking, rotate 180°.If the top gets done before the bottom, you will need to move the stone or jelly pane to a lower shelf before the next round. On the contrary, if the bottom crisps before the cheese caramelizes, then you will need to raise the stone or jelly.

15. 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.


Emily Rose said...

wow your pizzas turned out beautifully! I loved the recipe too- but mine weren't nearly as...umm.. round as yours!! haha! the consistency and flavor were right on though. I am very impressed with your pictures too- so cute!

The McBride Family said...

Yum pizza night ROCKED!! Many more to come for sure!!! That was so stinking much fun!! ANd when you write out who all was there it really cracks me up! Yummy!!

The Mortensens said...

You all look like pizza-tossing pros! Everything looks delicious too!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

I love your tossing pictures! You look like you are having much fun! Great pizzas too! Yummy!



HoneyB said...

You did a beautiful job! Great photos!

Y said...

What great pizzas! Love the tossing photos as well - everyone looks like a pro!

kat said...

Wow, you all tossed so well! I'm jealous

Alexa said...

Looks like you made a fun party out of the challenge... Your pizzas sound amazing. The pumpkin one is so unusual and a lovely idea.

Regina said...

Awesome tossing pictures! Nutella is wonderful on almost anything. :)

Maria said...

Looks like a fun pizza party!! And tasty too!

Ruth said...

Amazing! You all toss so well and its hard to pick which pizza I want to try they all look delicious!

Engineer Baker said...

Wow, what a pizza tossing party! You guys look like pros! And as always, nutella is a winner in my book.


Awesome action shots! HAHA!

*Priscilla* said...

wow, that looks like so much fun! and the pizza looks delicious!

PheMom said...

You all totally rocked it - the tossing and the toppings! Fantastic!!

Audax Artifex said...

OMG Fab Fab Fab tossing shots and I think the night's fav was mine also. I really like the banana and nutella idea. Thanks for the comments on my blog.

Sherry Trifle - Lovely Cats said...

Quite a party you had going! All six pizzas look absolutely delicious - great job.

Big Boys Oven said...

wow you have main course pizza and also dessert pizza ... just fantastic... wow what a tossing! lol!

Megan said...

You all did an amazing job - and the creativity for the toppings was just out there!

But - the nutella pizza was #1

Lynn said...

Wow, your pizzas are amazing. Don't you just love anything with pesto? I am impressed with all of you tossing your dough. Sounds like it was a fun time. Really enjoyable post.

Nicole said...

I love the photos of all you lovely ladies tossing that dough! I'm so impressed! And the pizzas all look so tasty!

Megan said...

What fun. A pizza throwing party. You all did amazing at the toss. I like that dessert pizza best. :)

Rachelle said...

ooh those pizzas look great!

jillian said...

What great photos the tossing the pizza! It looks like you have an impressive variety of toppings!

The Grows said...

Those were the best homemade pizzas I have ever had. You are amazing plus it looks like you had some great help. ;)

Maggie said...

I love that you made a party out of the challenge. The tossing shots are all great!

creampuff said...

You go ladies! Toss those pizzas!!! Nice job ... is it really National Pizza Month???!!!

Anna Allred said...

Oh my gosh...Cristine, what a great idea! I love the tossing pics too. I wish I could taste your yummy cooking. I hope you do a post about your cookie trays one day!!

~Valerie said...

Awesome photos! And all the pizzas look delish. I love making homemade pizza. You guys should try the vegan pizza on your next party nite.....so good!

Brad and Erica said...

Wow... 29 comments... will you even find mine all the way down here? I hope so, otherwise I may never hear the end of how I didn't comment on your pizza blog! Pizza night was amazing and I think we should do it every month. In fact, we are so good at tossing pizzas, maybe we should start our own business. Cristine, you can do all the cooking, because you are so dang good at it, and we will just come and toss dough around for you. Sound like a plan?

Nathan said...

Hey Babe, the pizza looked great. It's a good thing that I always check your blog right before I go to chow, because now all I wil think of is the food. P.S. I love the pic where you have a worried face, it was perfect I could even hear you make a little squel. Love Ya

Clumbsy Cookie said...

Nice pictures! Great pizza and let me tell you what a great job on the Nutella week. Loved all the recipes!

Adventures in Gluttony said...

Oh my golly! That's a lot of people and a lot of pizza. You gals sure look like you were having a good time, too! I bet the dessert pizza were amazing!!

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