Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Daring Bakers Challenge: Pizza Pie!

Pizza? The October challenge seemed like an easy one at first glance. Then I read the fine print, so to speak.

Hosted this month by Rosa of Rosa's Yummy Yums -- a food blogger based in Geneva, Switzerland, the real challenge wasn't making pizza dough but instead was in how the pizza was formed.

THE CHALLENGE: You have to use the tossing method for at least two pizza crusts. You should also capture the moment by either filming or photographing yourself while tossing the dough.

Toss the dough?? Well, I was up for it. I was also excited to see that we were once again using a recipe from "The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread," by Peter Reinhart.

The recipe is Pizza Napoletana and yields six 6-ounce pizzas.

Several keys to success according to Reinhart:
•Chill your flour at least one hour before making the dough and preferably overnight
•Make sure the water you use is also chilled to at least 40 degrees F
•Use either unbleached all-purpose flour or unbleached bread flour

According to Reinhart, bread flour, because of the high gluten content, holds together better during handling. The fans of all-purpose flour tout the tenderness of the crust made with this flour. The downside of all-purpose is that it is easy to tear when rolled out or tossed.

Reinhart recommends a compromise of sorts by suggesting the addition of olive oil to high gluten dough to tenderize the crust.

As a novice pizza tosser, I decided to take the safe route and use bread flour to increase my chances of success.

But the most important factor for success, according to Reinhart, "is to allow the dough to rest overnight in the refrigerator. This allows the enzymes time to go to work, pulling out subtle flavor trapped in the starch".

With my dough safely in the fridge with its enzymes working away furiously, I searched the Internet and cookbooks for information on tossing pizza dough. Reinhart provides instructions in his recipe but I wanted a visual if possible.

My search yielded lots of tips and the videos I found were hilarious but surprisingly useful. Even if you never want to learn to toss pizza dough, you must view these for the humor they provide! A list is at the bottom of this post.

The next day I took out four dough balls to bake now and froze two for later. I let the dough rest for several hours as instructed by the recipe then prepared to toss.

I nervously dipped my hands, including the back of my hands and knuckles, in flour and very gently laid the dough across my fists. I carefully stretched it by bouncing the dough in a circular motion carefully giving it a little stretch with each bounce. Once it expanded outward, I gave it a full toss in the air.

My first dough ball was stretched too thin and ripped. I gamely tried the next dough ball and was successful although I wouldn't call it pretty. The third one was much rounder and even in its thickness.

I used traditional pizza sauce for all three pizzas. The first pizza was topped with sundried tomatoes, fresh basil, and Gouda cheese. The toppings for the second pizza were more traditional with mushrooms, basil, mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. I used all the toppings on the third pizza.

They were delicious.

How to toss pizza blog

YouTube Pizza Toss

ehow Pizza Toss



  1. I love your tossing photo. Your pizzas look delicious and I love your toppings!

  2. I, too, love your tossing photo. Your pizzas are great. Excellent job!

  3. Did you really take your own photo? Timers are really beyond me. Your pizzas look delish.

  4. Wow! you are a pro-pizza tosser! great choice of toppings :)