This month’s Fresh From The Oven challenge was chosen by Lauren from Coffee Muffins and I was very relieved when I discovered she had chosen Pizza Napoletana for us to bake. Pizza is one of my favourite things and is something I make quite regularly so this was the first Fresh From the Oven challenge that I did not feel nervous about. The recipe below is from Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice. The only thing I do not normally do is leave my dough in the fridge overnight to prove so cooking this pizza recipe took a bit more planning and preparation than my usual pizza recipe. Lauren had suggested that we try and attempt to do a pizza toss but I decided I was not brave enough for that. I topped my pizza with a home-made tomato sauce, chorizo, ham, cheddar and mozzarella cheese with a good sprinkling of Italian herb seasoning and lots of black pepper. Overall, I was quite impressed with this recipe and I intend to make it again soon.
I will not be taking part in the next Fresh From The Oven challenge due to work commitments so I would like to wish good luck to everyone for the next one. Many thanks to Lauren for choosing this month’s challenge.
From Peter Reinhart’s The Bread Baker’s Apprentice
The recipe amounts make 6 9-12 inch pizzas, which I think is rather a lot, even if you can keep the dough in the fridge for 3 days or in the freezer for 3 months! I made a third of the recipe, which was enough for two perfectly sized individual pizzas. The amounts for 1/3 quantities are given in brackets.
- 4 1/2 cups or 20.25 ounces (6.75 ounces) of unbleached high-gluten bread flour
- 1 3/4 teaspoons or 0.44 ounces (0.14 ounces) of salt
- 1 teaspoon or 0.11 ounces (1/3 tsp) of instant yeast (if using active dry yeast you will need to increase this by 25%)
- 1/4 cup or 2 ounces (0.67 ounces) of olive or vegetable oil, optional
- 1 3/4 cups or 14 ounces (4.67 ounces) of ice cold water
- Stir together the flour, salt and instant yeast in a large bowl. With a large metal spoon (I used a wooden spoon and it didn’t seem to make any difference) stir in the oil and water until all the flour is absorbed. To do by hand, you need to stir with one hand and turn the bowl in the opposite direction with your other hand. You need to do this for 5 to 7 minutes, occasionally changing the direction as to really help develop the gluten. This method of mixing is actually quite a difficult task, sort of like rubbing your tummy while tapping your head, but as long as you are mixing the dough it should work out ok. To do in a mixer, make sure you are using the dough hook attachment and mix on medium speed for 5 to 7 minutes. Either way you mix you should end up with a smooth dough which is a little sticky. It should clear the sides of the bowl but not the bottom. If it isn’t clearing the sides then add a little more flour and mix again. If it clears the bottom then add a couple of drops of water, and mix again. The finished dough should be springy, elastic and sticky but not tacky. If you use a thermometer it should register somewhere between 50 to 55 oF.
- Now prepare a sheet pan with baking parchment and spray oil. Flour your counter and remove the dough on to the counter. Using a metal dough scraper (or your hands) create 6 equals sized pieces of dough. (I only made 2 using my 1/3 ingredients).
- Flour your hands and shape each into a ball, if your hands stick add more flour and try again. Place each ball onto your sheet pan, spray each piece of dough with oil. Once all pieces of dough are on the tray, enclose it in a food-grade bag and pop it into the fridge. Because I was only making a small quantity of dough, I didn’t use a tray at all, I just added each ball to a food-grade bag which I had sprayed the insides with oil. Then popped each bag into the fridge.
- The next day a couple of hours before you want to cook them remove the dough from the fridge. Dust your counter with flour (and your hands) then spray oil on top. Place each ball on the counter and then gently press each into a flat disc about 1/2 inch thick. Top each with a little flour and oil and cover with another bag. Let rest for 2 hours.
- At least 45 minutes before cooking put on your oven on at it’s maximum temperature (mine goes up to 250 oC, which worked ok) up to 800oF. If you have a baking stone put it in the oven now. If you don’t have a stone then you can use a normal baking sheet, just don’t preheat it first.
- Now comes the tricky part to stretch out your dough, dust your peel or sheet pan with semolina flour or cornmeal. Coat your hands in flour including the backs and your knuckles. Gently lay the dough on to the top of your fists and carefully stretch it by bouncing the dough in a circular motion. As it starts to spread out you can move to the full toss method (flinging it above your head and hoping it doesn’t fall on the floor – good luck!). If it sticks to your hands at any point lay it out flat and redust your hands, continue stretching until it is the desired width. With my dough I found it really hard to stretch my dough this way (as it kept tearing) so I stretched it gently on a well floured work surface. You can also roll it out using a rolling pin, but this isn’t quite such a good method for working with the dough. Once you have reached the desired width place the stretched dough on the peel or baking sheet.
- Now you can top it as you wish. Now that your oven should have preheated, transfer the pizza to your oven. It should only take between 8 and 10 minutes to cook. You might want to turn it 180 degrees after 2 minutes, if you think it might over cook on one side.