Saturday, October 25, 2008

Pizza! - For Daring Bakers October Challenge

Rosa of Rosa's Yummy Yums chose Pizza for the Daring Bakers October project. What an excellent choice - I have learned so much and maybe I will start making my own pizza now. What freedom of sauces and toppings, quantities and doughs. They say Brooklyn pizza is the best - sometimes it is, but sometimes it isn't, so now I can be independent.

This said and done, however, this was one rather difficult, tricky challenge for me, but I had a lot of fun and a great sense of delight at seeing my pizzas cook so nicely in the oven.

I'm a real novice with bread making - for one thing, YEAST. My yeast behaved very badly. Last weekend I optimistically planned to get ahead of the game and finish my challenge almost two weeks before the deadline. Not so! I prepared the Peter Reinhart dough with high hopes in spite of some peculiar behavior from my Kitchen Aid and dough hook. [The machine was banging and walking around the table and the dough hook kept on curling all the dough above it.] I survived this performance and finished with a nice batch of dough. I patted the dough into a round, cut six segments and placed them under saran wrap in the fridge.

Two days later, no rise; three days later, no rise. Thank goodness for our Q&A section - a fellow Daring Baker advised me the yeast must be old and that I should just graft a bit of new, fresh yeast onto the dough. I would like to have tried this - after all, I'd just used up 4 plus cups of flour, but it was not to be. In New York of all places there was not a package of Instant Yeast to be found. I went to four different shops (two regular supermarkets and two posh ones, as well as one I found to have closed down). They had plenty of Active Dry Yeast but no "Quick Rise" so I could not get an add-on to enliven my dough. This is a cautionary tale - do not use yeast that you cannot remember when last you bought it except that it must have been at least 18 months ago!

My Confession - I had to use another dough recipe (this one from Epicurious) that required the Active Dry Yeast and a warm rise. In fact, I'm a bit leery of a cool rise now but my fellow DB'ers do not seem to have a problem with it. I promise, I promise to try the Reinhart dough again someday, but by now I was actually in a state of panic - only a couple of days to go before posting. So this time I made less dough and let it rise for nearly three hours on my kitchen table; thank goodness it came out bouncy and puffy.

The tossing? I get an "E" for effort, but I did try to toss up my oddly shaped dough - I "tossed" them with mouse like timidity - they got a couple of inches in the air but I was so nervous they would fall on the floor I quickly let them land on my hands again. I have such a lot to learn about bread baking.

The outcome of my first pizza making adventures can be seen in my pics - wonky pies in odd sizes, but the baking is the part I loved. It was just wonderful to choose toppings and sauces and then to gaze into the oven, watching the sauce bubbling up and the dough giving a slight rise. I feel proud that I have actually completed this challenge, well, sort of.

My first pie is made with a "Tomato Herb Sauce" topped with mozzarella cheese and mushrooms; my second pie, the wee one, is made with "Pesto Sauce" topped with feta cheese and pepperoni. I can't wait to try them.

Thank you so much Rosa for this rigorous and exciting challenge - I plan to improve and make my own pizza for when friends come over.

The sauce recipes are from Great Party Recipes. They're really nice so I'm posting them here.

Pesto SauceJust a little of this savory pizza sauce goes a long way.

1 cup fresh basil leaves, packed
4 cloves garlic
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Combine all ingredients except olive oil in the bowl of a food processor and finely chop. Slowly add olive oil while running the processor on low speed.

Tomato Herb Sauce (Marinara Sauce)
The traditional pizza sauce recipe has never tasted so good.

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup tomato sauce
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons tomato paste

In a medium saucepan, sauté garlic and onions in olive oil until tender. Add seasonings and continue cooking a few more minutes. Stir in tomato sauce, and then tomato paste. Simmer on low heat for about 10 minutes. Makes about 1 1/2 cups.


Cristine said...

Great job perservering! The dough was really awesome... hopefully you'll be able to try it again sometime!

Sarah said...

we do what we need to do, right? great job improvising!