Wednesday, October 29, 2008
October Daring Bakers: My New Favorite Pizza Dough
Another month of the Daring Bakers, another savory recipe - no frills, no 2-day decorating marathons, no butter. That's right - a Daring Bakers challenge with no butter.
Now, I've made pizza dough before. In fact, I've made it many times before, and pizza is one of those things that never ceases to be an exciting kitchen activity. So many toppings, so much flour all over the kitchen, so likely that I'll set off the smoke alarm because the oven is so hot....it may be high-stress, but I love making pizza.
To be honest, though, I don't usually put too much thought into my pizza dough. I generally make whole-wheat crusts with the usual suspects: flour, water, salt, yeast, sugar, and a splash of olive oil or two. And even though my homemade crust is generally not as good as the specimens found at good pizza joints (think New Haven) or trendy Italian restaurants, I have always chalked that up to equipment deficiencies (I'm just not crazy enough to clip the self-cleaning lock on my oven to get it up to 800 degrees). I've read in a variety of places, too, that homemade crust, especially without the use of special pizza dough starters, just will never be as good as the stuff that the pizza masters use.
And then there was this Daring Bakers dough. Now, I'm not saying that this recipe will yield Pepe's-quality pizza, but it gave me new faith in the art of homemade pizza. The dough requires an overnight rest in the refrigerator before the 2-hour, room-temperature proof, and seriously, it makes a big difference. By the time I shaped this dough, it was supple, soft, and completely pliable, making for a deliciously thin-crusted pizza the likes of which I've never been able to achieve before.
[whole wheat crust]
Obviously, I wanted to make a whole wheat version of this dough, but I was also curious as to how the regular old white version would turn out. So, I made a batch using mostly bread flour (and some white whole wheat because I ran out of bread flour!) and a half-batch using 100% white whole wheat, with about 2 tablespoons of gluten thrown in for extra body and stretch.
[white and whole wheat doughs]
I expected the mostly-white dough to be pliable and soft, which it was, but I was pleasantly surprised to find the whole wheat dough to be almost as pliable. Both doughs made for lovely, thin crusts that crisped up nicely on my pizza stone. The crust itself had those big, gaping holes that you see in pizzeria crust or ciabatta, which I loved.
Since I made so much dough, I stuck most of it in the freezer for a rainy day, and made two pizzas the day after mixing the dough: one plain cheese and sauce variety, and another one with paper-thin slices of potatoes, garlic, olive oil, and a hefty sprinkling of rosemary.
Both came out beautifully, although I've decided I'm not the biggest fan of carb-on-carb pizzas, and will probably come up with something more vegetable-y the next time around (caramelized onions with goat cheese, perhaps? lemony broccoli with cheddar? something with apples?). I'm definitely filing this recipe away, though, and look forward to more crazy and exciting pizza nights in the future.
For now, check out the other Daring Bakers to see the marvelous pizza creations they've come up with, and check the blog of this month's wonderful host, Rosa, for the complete recipe. I'm not sure I'd consider this recipe particularly challenging (it even uses instant yeast!) but it sure is a winner.
[ready for the oven]