Some of you may know about my love for pizza. Its a small obsession..um.. okay, its a huge obsession. And my one soft spot. Give me perfect pizza and ask for the impossible, you'll have it.
So when the Daring Bakers (of whom I'm not a member), baked beautiful pizzas, which were flying all over the blogosphere, I simply had to try it.
My other current obsession is with all things related to baking bread and Peter Reinhart. I've tried numerous recipes of his and every single one of them has been a success. I've gone ahead and ordered my own copy of his book (not an easy thing to acquire in India, let me say!).
I followed the recipe exactly as given by Rosa for the Daring Bakers challenge. This is a lovely thin crust pizza and we, at home, are thin crust people. Ahem...not that I would say no to a gorgeous slice of Chicago deep dish!
Basic Pizza Dough
(from Rosa at Rosa's Yummy Yums, and originally from Peter Reinhart's "The Bread Baker's Apprentice")
Makes 6 crusts (about 10 inches in diameter)
4 1/2 cups All-Purpose Flour, chilled
1 3/4 tsp Salt
1 tsp Instant Yeast
1/4 cup Olive Oil
1 3/4 cups Ice Cold Water
1 tbsp Sugar
Semolina/ Durum Flour or Cornmeal for dusting
Mix together the flour, salt and yeast in a bowl. Add the oil, sugar and cold water and mix well 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 distributed. The finished dough should be springy, elastic and sticky, not just tacky.
Flour a work surface or counter. Line a jelly pan with baking paper/ parchment. Lightly oil the paper. Cut the dough into 6 equal pieces.
Sprinkle some flour over the dough. Make sure your hands are dry and then flour them. Gently round each piece into a ball.
Transfer the dough balls to the lined jelly pan and mist them generously with oil. Slip the pan into plastic bag or enclose in plastic food wrap.
Put the pan into the refrigerator and let the dough rest overnight or for up to three 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. I left one in the refrigerator and five in the freezer.
On the day you plan to eat pizza, exactly two 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 disk about 1/2" thick and 5" 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.
At least 45 minutes before making pizza, place a baking stone (I got some unglazed tiles at a local crafts shop here and started using those as pizza stones!) on the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven as hot as possible (260 deg C).
Generously sprinkle the back of a jelly pan with semolina. Flour your hands (palms, backs and knuckles). Take one 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 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 have trouble tossing or the dough doesn't expand, let it rest for 5-20 minutes and try again.
When the dough has the shape you want (about 10" in diameter), place it on the back of the jelly pan, making sure there is enough semolina to allow it to slide and not stick to the pan.
Top it with sweet or savory toppings. Slide the garnished pizza onto the stone or bake directly on the jelly pan for 5-8 minutes. After 2 minutes, take a peek. For an even baking, rotate 180 deg.
Take the pizza out of the oven and transfer it to a cutting board or a plate. In order to allow the cheese to set a little, wait 3-5 minutes before slicing and serving.
I made one with a pesto base with capers, roasted garlic and mozzarella, and the second one with a tomato base and jalapeno and chicken sausage as toppings. The crust was thin and chewy and flavorful. I'm glad I still have 4 in the freezer! :-) Here's the lovely upshot - see how thin it is - almost transparent!
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