Wednesday, October 29, 2008

When the Moon Hits Your Eye Like a Big Pizza Pie...

The scarecrow, comfortable in the waning veggie garden on a farm in the Land of St. Honore’, looked in the kitchen window and wondered.

He had noticed the recipe a few weeks ago, all spread out on the counter. He has seen her face light up with excitement and it looked like she was thinking hard…maybe about making the recipe.

Last night as the full harvest moon rose over the far hills, he saw the light on in the kitchen, flour clouds in the air, and on the counter what looked like dough. After a while he had seen her take the dough out of the bowl, divide it in pieces, shape the pieces in balls, dip the balls in oil, then put them into plastic bags. What on earth was she doing?

Tonight she took the pieces and then floured her hands. She held one of the pieced by an edge and moved around the edge, shaping a sort of flat circle. Then she put the circle on her hand, moved her hand and the dough slid off onto the floor. What crazy thing was she up to?

After that she took another ball and did the edge thing, then laid it out on a board and pushed and pulled until it was a large circle. Very curious!

Next she spread some yucky looking red stuff over most of the circle, added thin slices of something red, sprinkled on a whole bunch of some shredded white stuff & shoved the whole thing in the oven.

Too bad the window was open. He smelled what came out of the oven…it was hot, freshly made pizza! The crust was golden and Sweetie quickly sliced it up and put it on plates. Soon they both were enjoying the pizza. The black dog came flying out of the dog door. He had some pizza crust and was enjoying it, too. The scarecrow was envious…no pizza for him.

He hopes that you will visit the Daring Bakers all over the blogosphere to see all the variations of pizza that can be imagined. Just go to the Daring Bakers Blogroll here. Thanks go to Rosa of Rosa’s Yummy Yums at for this great recipe and for a second month of savory Daring Baker joy!

Original recipe taken 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
1 3/4 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Instant yeast
1/4 Cup (2 ounces/60g) Olive oil or vegetable oil (both optional, but it’s better with)
1 3/4 Cups (14 ounces/420g or 420ml) Water, ice cold (40° F/4.5° C)
1 Tb sugar
Semolina/durum flour or 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 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 or pizza peel 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.

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/23-30 cm in diameter - for a 6 ounces/180g piece of dough), place it on the back of the jelly pan or pizza peel, 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.
NOTE: Remember that the best pizzas are topped not too generously. No more than 3 or 4 toppings (including sauce and cheese) are sufficient.

13. Slide the garnished pizza onto the stone in the oven. Close the door and bake for about 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 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.

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.

The basic recipe from “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread”, by Peter Reinhart can be found above, but once you have visited some Daring Baker blogs, you will probably be inspired to go way beyond the basic pizza I made. My sauce was a tomato based sauce with Italian sausage bits. My toppings were coppa slices, sliced tomatoes, and shredded Italian cheese mix.


  1. Well done as usual Elle! I can't ever get my cheese to look like that without burning the crust. :(

  2. Some really excellent pizza!

  3. Great pizza and pictures!

  4. Anonymous12:03 PM

    very cute post very fallish! love the pizza looks good

  5. Yum! I really wanted to do this challenge but just didn't have time with my every 4th night call schedule. Next month for sure!

  6. looks delicious--and what a beautifully browned crust!

  7. Oh, yum!
    D. is lecturing these days, and so busy-busy-busy that there's been not much let-up for baking. *sigh* I miss the Daring Baker challenges! I think we'll try this pizza this weekend; we have some Tofutti mozzarella to try!

  8. what a lovely looking pizza. i simply love the texture and the color! i think i should take my last dough balls and make a few more of these - you've made me hungry!

  9. Anonymous10:52 AM

    Your pizza looks amazing. I really enjoyed reading your post. I am glad the dog got to try it, too! Well done!

  10. I wish that pizza pie were in the sky every night! Nice job!

  11. I could go for a slice of that!

  12. 'that's amore' was our friends' wedding song! Every time I hear it it gets stuck into my head - am humming it already...

    That pizza looks great Elle!

  13. Simple yet tasty, what you specialize in. Good looking pizza.

  14. Amy, The trick was to move the pizza (and stone) up to an upper rack about 10 minutes before it was done.

    Tanna, Thanks!

    Alexa, Thanks!

    Courtney, Thanks for noticing the fall theme :)

    Claire, You are wonderwoman as it is...the Daring Bakers will (most likely) still be here once all the grind of fully becoming an MD is done.

    Steph, Thanks!

    TadMack, Hope the writing is going well and that baking is in your near future.

    Meeta, They are not as stunning as yours.

    Lynn, Thanks! Xam loves anything baked.

    Creampuff, Right you are...that would be true amore'.

    Deborah, Thanks. I like your pizza, too.

    Inne, thanks! I know, stupid song is still in my head...sorry I did that.

    Peabody, Thanks!

  15. If your scarecrow would like, I'll give him my cold so he can't smell the pizza. :-)
    Well done Elle.

  16. Oh my, that coppa looks mighty fine. Nicely done!