This month's challenge was hosted by Rosa from Rosa's Yummy Yums and dedicated to the late Sher of What Did You Eat.
We were called upon to make our own crust and to top it with toppings of our choice. I was really excited about this challenge because I love nontraditional toppings and looked forward to the opportunity to make pizza my way. Rosa's recipe from The Bread Baker's Apprentice promised a "tasty, thin, crispy, yet chewy pizza crust". And it delivered. The technique used is cold fermentation with the first rise happening overnight in the fridge. The dough was quick and simple, coming together smoothly by hand. It was extremely elastic and pliable, stretching easily when I went to toss it (something I was really bad at). I've only had the chance to make one pizza, but I still have 7-8 small dough balls in the freezer, so it's going to be a delicious few weeks.
Basic Pizza Dough
Makes 6 pizza crusts (about 9-12 inches)
4 1/2 cups unbleached high-gluten (14%) bread flour or all purpose flour, chilled (I used all purpose)
1 3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp instant yeast
1/4 cup olive oil or vegetable oil (both optional, but better with)
1 3/4 cup water, ice cold
1 tbsp sugar
semolina/durum flour or cornmeal for dusting
In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt, and yeast. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour in the water, oil, and sugar. Mix well and then knead to a smooth ball (about 5-7 minutes).
Dust a board and pour some oil into a large bowl. Turn the dough out onto the floured board and cut into 6 pieces, or smaller if you're making smaller pizzas. Coat in oil (especially if you're storing the dough in the freezer) and wrap in plastic. Dough can rest in the fridge for 2-3 days or up to 3 months in the freezer. Just be sure to move the frozen dough to the fridge the night before you plan on making the pizza.
About 2 hours before you're planning on making the pizza, take the dough out of the fridge and place them on a dusted board. Gently press the dough balls into disks about 1/2 inch thick and 5 inches in diameter. Cover lightly and let them rise for 2 hours.
45 minutes before you are ready to make the pizza, preheat the oven to 500 degrees and heat up your pizza stone. If you don't have a pizza stone, a regular baking sheet would work, just don't preheat it. Toss or press the dough into desired size. Sprinkle pizza stone or baking sheet with cornmeal or durum flour and lay the dough on top.
Now go to town with the toppings! Once you've topped to your heart's content (remember that less is usually better in this case), bake in the preheated 500 degrees oven for 8-10 minutes.
I made my personal pizza with:
- Roasted garlic white sauce
- Caramelized onions
- Yellow and green squash
- Mozzarella, Asiago, Provolone, Parmesan shredded cheese blend
- Greek feta crumbles
The roasted garlic white sauce was just a basic roux and milk sauce base with mashed roasted garlic stirred in, seasoned simply with salt and pepper.
The red onions were cut thin, then sauteed in olive oil over low heat until they're soft and caramelized (about 25-30 minutes since I didn't make much). A pinch of salt sped up the process.
The yellow and green squash were cut into thin rounds, rubbed with olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper, and briefly grilled.