Friday, October 31, 2008
Finally, another opportunity to participate in the Daring Bakers' Challenge. Homemade pizza dough always seemed like such a labour-intensive and time-consuming task and because of the numerous daunting paragraphs of instruction that detail the making of it, I have always put it off. Once again the DB Challenge offered me that much needed push of encouragement to overcome my hesitancy and with so many others also taking the plunge, the Daring Bakers' seems to serve as a support group and it's easier to go head on into a task with the knowledge that you're not alone.
I was happy to find that only the "time" factor was indeed true about the making of pizza dough. Laborious it was not, although I did have to put in some extra work kneading and working the dough by hand and cleaning the constantly floured counter top due to my lack of stand mixer (I won't fret though, Christmas will arrive soon enough), but the overall experience was fun and fulfilling. Today I used a fraction of the dough to make a small dessert pizza: cream cheese, apricot spread, apples, topped with an almond streusel. Tomorrow I plan on making a savory chicken alfredo pizza, more on that in a following post.
The sweet pizza overall was delightful, the smooth tangy cream cheese, the sweet mix of the apricot and apple, and the added texture of the streusel. The dough came out perfectly, even though I wasn't apple to enjoy the crust due to the sensitivity caused by my braces. Thank you once again to the Daring Bakers for another chance to add something new to my repertoire!
Apricot-Apple Pizza with Cream Cheese and Almond Streusel
Basic Pizza Dough
Adapted from “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice” by Peter Reinhart.
Makes 4-6 pizza crusts
For the dough:
4 1/2 Cups (20 1/4 ounces/607.5 g) all purpose flour, chilled
1 3/4 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Instant yeast
1/4 Cup (2 ounces/60g) olive oil or vegetable oil
1 3/4 Cups (14 ounces/420g or 420ml) ice cold water, ice cold (40° F/4.5° C)
1 Tb sugarSemolina/durum flour or cornmeal for dusting
Mix together the flour, salt and instant yeast in a big bowl or stand mixer. Add the oil, sugar and cold water and mix well (spoon or paddle attachment) to form a sticky ball of dough. On a clean surface, knead for about 5-7 minutes, until the dough is smooth. If it is too wet, add a little flour and if it is too dry add 1 or 2 teaspoons extra water.
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. If 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.
Flour a work surface or counter. Line a jelly pan with baking paper/parchment. Lightly oil the paper. Cut the dough into 4-6 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 spray oil and cover with plastic 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 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.
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. 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.
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). If you do not have a baking stone, then use the back of a jelly pan. Do not preheat the pan.
Generously sprinkle the back of a jelly pan with semolina/durum flour or cornmeal. Take 1 piece and 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.
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.
When the dough has the shape you want, 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. Lightly top it with sweet or savory toppings of your choice.
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. [My pizza baked at 375 for 15 minutes.]
For the topping:
adapted from Pillsbury
1/3 cup cream cheese or light cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup apricot preserves
1 large apple, peeled, thinly sliced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1/4 cup blanched almonds, coarsely chopped