Daring Bakers: Pizza Challenge

If there is one thing I have learned from the last two Daring Bakers monthly challenges, it is this: when working with yeast, always remove your rings and wash hands thoroughly before putting them back on. Both times I remembered this too late, put on a yeast/dough-packed wedding ring, and watched as my finger broke out, turning all red and scaly. However, that is not really appetizing...so, let's move on to the October challenge: Pizza! This month's challenge was chosen by Rosa of Rosa’s Yummy Yums. Thanks!

Not only did we have to make our own pizza dough, which is not new to us, put we also had to toss it. Here are the pics:

While it appears I have hung the dough from the ceiling fan, I assure you that did not happen. Things go much smoother in the Vanilla Bean Kitchen. We run a pretty tight ship here.

We made a Radicchio, Shrimp and Fontina pizza and a Sun-Dried Tomato, Black Olive and Goat Cheese pizza. Both were awesome. This is a great pizza dough recipe. While it sucks it is a two-day recipe, it did make 6 pizza crusts. So, we have 4 more in the freezer just waiting to be used.

Something to note about cooking your pizza: we didn't have a peel to transfer the dough to the pizza stone we had heating in the oven. So, we used the back of a jelly roll pan (as it explains in the recipe). That worked just as well.

Sun-Dried Tomoato, Black Olive and Goat Cheese
(I just winged it...so measurments aren't exact)

Drizzle basic pizza dough crust (recipe below) with olive oil. Sprinkle on crumbled goat cheese, chopped sun-dried tomatoes, chopped black olives, and 2 cloves roasted garlic, chopped. Toss on some dried basil and oregano for more flavor.

Radicchio, Shrimp and Fontina Pizza
from The Little Guides: Pizza

basic pizza dough crust (see recipe below)
6 cloves of roasted garlic, chopped
Olive Oil, to cover
10-12 large shrimp
1 tbls. evoo
1/4 head radicchio, chopped
1 1/2 tbls. finely chopped basil
4-5 oz. Fontina cheese

We didn't think the 7-8 min. in the oven as directed in the basic pizza dough recipe would be enough to cook the shrimp. So, we cooked them slightly before putting them on the pizza. Scatter the radicchio, garlic and basil over the dough. Top evenly with cheese and finally the shrimp. Season to taste with salt and pepper and drizzle with a little evoo.

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
3/4 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Instant yeast
1 3/4 Cups (14 ounces/420g or 420ml) Water, ice cold (40° F/4.5° C)
1 Tb sugar

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 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.

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.

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.

Check out the other Daring Bakers at http://daringbakersblogroll.blogspot.com/


  1. Your pizzas look fabulous! Anything with sun dried tomatoes gets two thumbs up from me. Love your pictures. Great blog entry!

  2. love the tossing photos!! and the pizza looks great!

  3. Very impressive!! I'm a fellow TWD baker, and I was thinking that it would be nice if we all could chip in and get Laurie some small token/gift for all the work she does. Would you be willing to contribute? If I can get enough people, it would only be about $1 per person. No pressure :-) Let me know! bethberg12@yahoo.com

  4. Great action shots! Wow, the shrimp, raddichio, fontina combo sounds fabulous.