Daring Bakers October Challenge – Pizza

Vegan Pizza

Vegan Pizza

Hi Everyone - It's Jane with my October Daring Bakers Post (yes, that's right, October).

First, let me say that I'm a bad Daring Baker. I didn't pay attention to the posting date. We usually post around the last weekend of the month. I was on autopilot, and didn't pay attention to the dates or calendar, and for some reason had it in my head that we'd be posting today. You're not allowed to miss a month without contacting the group administrators, Lis and Yvonne.  I've also been really busy and so I've been out of touch with the blogging community and didn't notice that everyone else had posted already.  What's even more irritating is that I completed the challenge on the 15th and could have easily made the posting date. Argh!

So now that my excuses have been made, let's talk about the challenge set to us by Rosa of Rosa's Yummy Yums... homemade pizza.

Vegan Pizza Dough, Day One
Vegan Pizza Dough, Day One

As you've heard Lane blog about in the past, we love traditional New York Pizza -- a little tomato sauce, a little olive oil and basil, a little mozzarella cheese and a thin and crispy crust.  The right mix of these ingredients doesn't seem to exist outside of the New York metropolitan area.  (And I hate to break it to you omnivores... Domino's is NOT pizza.)  It's been probably the hardest thing for us to give up, but then again, we can't get it here in Los Angeles, so it's been more of a philosophical difficulty.  We've tried the occasional vegan pizza over the last year or so.  Some of the vegan pizza was good (although we've since changed our minds about Fatty's), and some will not be consumed again.  But it's not what we think of when we think of pizza.  And, quite frankly, I expect that next time we're in NY, we'll have a slice of traditional NY pizza again.  Since we don't live there, we don't worry about backsliding.  And it's been suggested that either our systems won't tolerate the real cheese, or we won't be able to overcome our moral objection to consuming dairy.

Lane tries his hand at tossing dough

Lane tries his hand at tossing dough

After reading about the challenge, I was a little nervous.  The recipe appears to be very complicated as you're reading it.  But in reality, it wasn't difficult at all.  The first time I made the pizza's I cut the recipe in half.  I didn't have high expectations.  But it was really good, and surprisingly easy.  I didn't have any issues with the dough being to sticky.  I didn't have to flour my hands when I tossed it, nor did I need to flour my dough scraper...  The tossing was fun, but it really didn't take all that long.  It would have been more fun to be able to continue a bit longer.  Lane needs a bit more practice!

I don't have a Baking Stone (oh Lane, Christmas hint!).  The recipe suggests you can use the back of a jelly roll pan.  I used my sideless cookie sheets.  The crust was nice and crisp on the edges, however it was a tad soft on the bottom.  That would supposedly be improved with a pizza/baking stone.

We were challenged to use a sauce and the toppings of our choice. I started with Trader Joe's Marinara Sauce which has onions and garlic, and a nice flavor Lane and I enjoy.  For toppings, I used Yves Ground Meat, green olives stuffed with garlic which I sliced, vegan cheese, and sliced tomatoes.  I'll skip the cheese next time, it didn't add anything to the pizza.

Vegan Pizza Dough

Vegan Pizza Dough

So, this is another recipe I'd recommend.  It really only requires a bit of planning ahead.  If you've got kids, it might be fun to let them help toss the dough!

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~ BASIC PIZZA DOUGH ~

Original recipe taken from "The Bread Baker's Apprentice” by Peter Reinhart.

Makes 6 pizza crusts (about 9-12 inches).

Ingredients:
4 1/2 Cups Unbleached high-gluten bread flour, chilled - FOR Gluten Free (GF): 4 ½ cups GF Flour Blend with xanthan gum or 1 cup brown rice flour, 1 cup corn flour, 1 cup oat flour, 1 ½ cup arrowroot, potato or tapioca starch + 2 tsp xanthan or guar gum
1 3/4 tsp Salt
1 tsp Instant yeast - FOR GF use 2 tsp
1/4 Cup  Olive oil
1 3/4 Cups Water, ice cold
1 Tb sugar - FOR GF use agave syrup
Semolina/durum flour or cornmeal for dusting

DAY ONE

Method:
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.

For GF: Add the oil, sugar or agave syrup and cold water, then 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.

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 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.

DAY TWO

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.

FOR GF:  On the day you plan to eat pizza, exactly 2 hours before you make it, remove the number of desired dough balls from the refrigerator.  Place on a sheet of parchment paper and sprinkle with a gluten free flour. Delicately press the dough into disks about ½ inch/1.3 cm thick and 5 inches/12.7 cm in diameter. Sprinkle the dough with flour, mist it again with spray oil. Lightly cover the dough round with a sheet of parchment paper and 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 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.

FOR GF: Press the dough into the shape you want (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter - for a 6 ounces/180g piece of dough).

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, making sure there is enough semolina/durum flour or cornmeal to allow it to slide and not stick to the pan.

FOR GF: Lightly top it with sweet or savory toppings of your choice.

12. Lightly top it with sweet or savory toppings of your choice.

FOR GF:  Place the garnished pizza on the parchment paper onto the stone in the oven or bake directly on the jelly pan. Close the door and bake for about 5-8 minutes.

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 or bake directly on the jelly pan. Close the door and bake for abour 5-8 minutes.

FOR GF:  Follow the notes for this step.

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 or jelly pane 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 or jelly.

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.

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Comments

  1. Your pizza looks amazing, and like you, I agree that a traditional thin crust NY pizza with a good tomato sauce, fresh basil and fresh mozzarella is the best. I also agree that Domino’s is NOT PIZZA, it’s a doughy snack!

  2. What great pizzas! Very well done! I’m glad you liked the challenge…

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  3. This was a fun challenge, with delicious results to be sure :) Your pizzas look excellent!!

  4. Thanks ladies,
    The pizzas were easy and fun to make, and tasted delicious. I’ve sent the recipe to a few of my friends to try as well.

  5. If you have a moral objection to consuming dairy, why would you even consider eating a slice of pizza with dairy cheese?

  6. Yummmm, delicious!

  7. Hi Kula,
    My moral objection to dairy is why I don’t eat dairy 99.9% of the time. The one or two times a year I will consume a slice of pizza doesn’t present a moral conundrum for me. This is one of my all time favorite foods… it’s something I ate with great regularity when I lived and worked in NY. I don’t believe this is an all or nothing issue. I know some people do.
    When vegan cheese reaches a point that tastes good, I won’t feel the need to eat real pizza anymore. Just as Purely Decadent Vegan Ice Cream has completely substituted regular ice cream for me.

    Hi Rosa,
    It was, wasn’t it. :-)
    This has been my favorite challenge to date (and the Danish).

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