Friday, October 31, 2008

The Way of the Daring Baker: To Mix, To Knead, & then To Toss....

This Daring Bakers Challenge involved an excellent choice of recipe. It comes from Peter Reinhart's: The Bread Baker's Apprentice. This recipe Pizza Napoletana is simply lovely - and as described by Rosa of Rosa's Yummy Yums yields a beautifully tasty, thin, crispy, yet chewy pizza crust.

The Challenge
This challenge required the Daring Baker to try and use the tossing method for at least 2 Pizza Crusts. of course, a switch to the rolling method was permitted, but tossing was the key to the challenge. And the moment of the toss as it were had to be captured on film for all posterity!!!! Talk about taking it up a notch....

The Rules

  • The Pizza Dough can be gluten-free or regular.
  • The sauce and toppings can be savory or sweet, gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian or non-vegan/vegetarian.
  • Both sauce & toppings must be used.
  • Equipment needed will include - Stand mixer with paddle and dough hook attachments (optional, see recipe), cooking thermometer, baking sheet, parchment paper, cooking oil, plastic wrap, pizza peel/scraper, pizza stone or pan.
4 1/2 cups (20 1/4 ounces/607.5 g) unbleached high-gluten (14%) bread flour or all purpose flour, chilled
1 3/4 Tsp salt
1 tsp instant yeast
1/4 cup (2 ounces/60g) olive oil or vegetable oil (both optional, but it’s better with)
1 3/4 cups (14 ounces/420g or 420ml) water, ice cold (40° F/4.5° C)
1 tbsp sugar
semolina/durum flour or cornmeal for dusting

Method: Day 1
  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.
  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 tablespoons 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.
Method: Day 2
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Lightly top it with sweet or savory toppings of your choice.
  6. 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 about 5-8 minutes.
  7. 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.
Recipe source: The Bread Baker's Apprentice: Mastering The Art of Extraordinary Bread by Peter Reinhart. Ten Speed Press, Berkeley, CA. Copyright 2001. ISBN-10: 1-58008-268-8, ISBN-13: 978-158008-268-6.
For Tossing links:Wiki-How: Toss-Pizza-Dough, Vids: My Space, Toss-Pizza-Dough, Classic Hand-Tossed Pizza, You Tube, Ask Yahoo.
Note on Sauce: Your sauce should not be too thick as it will thicken in the hot oven. Less is more but make the less truly more by using quality ingredients.
Sauce Ideas: Pestos, white or brown sauce, tomato sauce, sour cream, thick cream, Bolognese sauce, etc…Check here for sauce recipes:
Topping Ideas: Seafood, fish, meat (dry, cured, smoked or ground), cheeses (Gruy√®re, Gorgonzola, Mozzarella, Provolone, Ricotta, Maroille, Munster, etc…), nuts, tofu, veggies (tomatoes, bell peppers, artichokes, hearts of palm, zucchinis, pumpkin, red onions, etc…), herbs (mixes, fresh or dried), spices (garlic, gourmet salt, pepper, curry, berbere, ras-el-hanout, za’atar, etc…), nuts (pecans, walnuts, cashew nuts, Brasil nuts, macadamia nuts, etc…
Topping Links: Great Party Recipes, Correll Concepts.
General Pizza Links: Breadtopia
Some other completed examples of Peter Reinhardt’s Napoletana Pizza Dough recipe turned out: Chubby Hubby, 101 Cookbooks, I Eat Food.

What I Did:I made the regular version of the pizza and prepared only half the dough to achieve 3 crusts!! The dough came out well and the tossing was really worthwhile - improved the quality of the crust. Finally, the topping for my pizza included some pizza sauce with Italian Herbs on the base, followed by red onions, tomatoes, olives, and pepper-jack cheese!!I served the pizza with chilli flakes and freshly grated parmesan cheese.
The Verdict:
The crust was very very good - crispy, chewy, and light!! I did load up on the toppings but I have to say this really enhanced the taste. The crust held very well under the toppings and all in all - I must declare this recipe is a keeper!!

Photo Credit: A big thank you for capturing the toss or the dough in motion goes to my dear husband:)

All text and photographs in this blog, unless otherwise noted, are Copyright of © Annarasa 2007-2012. All Rights Reserved. Kindly do not reproduce without permission.


  1. Wow, that's certainly some toss.
    I was so worried mine would never make it back to my hands!
    Great pizza too.

  2. Great toss! Your pizza looks great. Wasn't this a great dough recipe?!

  3. Wow excellent shot of your pizza dough. Your pizza sounds filling. Great job!

  4. I think that's the highest DB dough toss I've seen yet! (And those fresh tomatoes look so good with that cheese...)


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