Pizza victory!!

October 26, 2010
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I’ve had my pizza stone for a while and the first time I used it, perfect pizzas were produced. You see I have a very hot and cold relationship with dough. I find sometimes its perfect and others it’s really dry, can’t be kneaded and just basically hates me (usually the latter). This is what happened on attempt two with the pizza stone. I guess, like the rest of us, dough has bad days but when I have people coming over this isn’t really acceptable. Put on a brave face Mr Dough and work with me here!!!

Annoyed at my attempts, I asked a foodie friend of mine for some dough advice and he sent me this link. Hmmmm, an overnight rise? It does seem like a lot of work but hey, if it can sort out my dough woes, it’s worth a shot so I went on the hunt for a dough recipe with a sponge and found this.

I had Friday off work so in the afternoon, I made my sponge in preparation. A sponge is basically a starter for the dough and a lot of Artisan Bakers use it for bread. Channelling my inner baker, I waited for the yeast to bubble in the lukewarm (blood temperature) water and then added the flour. I was surprised at how dry the mixture was. It’s a sponge right?

You are meant to let this sit for a couple of hours but due to our busy schedule, I didn’t actually look at it again until Saturday morning and to be honest, not much had changed. It was slightly puffier and not as dry but not exactly what I was expecting but in all fairness, I’m not actually sure what that was.

So I put my sponge in the mixing bowl, attached the dough hook and slowly added the extra water while on speed 2. I then slowly added the flour (a tablespoon at a time) until I had a cohesive dough and then upped the mixer to speed 4 for about 5 minutes to get a good knead. I actually did three batches of the dough (makes 9 pizzas) and found some dryer than others so you just need to play with the measurements a little until you have a sticky dough that comes together and away from the bowl but when handled, sticks to your fingers if they aren’t completely floured. Make sense?

So once each batch was done, I didn’t knead at all. I simply split each batch into three balls and placed them in a bowl lightly sprayed with olive oil. The next morning I woke up to perfectly risen dough that was prepped and primed for baking. Ok so it’s meant to be overnight but as I learnt, it’s quite forgiving for the busy bee and you can leave it another day without any hassles.

When it came time to use my dough, I didn’t knead it at all. I simply pulled apart my ball (all three stuck together when rising overnight) and rolled it out on a lightly floured board. Once the pizza stone was heated in the oven, I placed the dough on it and then dressed it with the toppings. I find it’s easier to dress the pizza on the stone as trying to lift it to put on the stone with all the topping on it, usually ends in disaster for someone like me.

Too hungry to take pics of all the pizzas, I can tell you that I made a garlic pizza, margharita pizza, lamb and rocket pizza, proschuitto and brie pizza and then a lamb, asparagus and proschuitto pizza. All were successful and the dough was fab, fab, fab!

If you have the time, I would really suggest the over night (or over two nights in my case) rise as it’s a lot less work in the long run. Its pretty simple, just like you would make it normally, you just need to be a little more prepared and start a day or two ahead. Great for a Sunday when you can’t be bothered as you pretty much get everything ready on the Saturday and then it’s ready for you to dress Sunday night.

Ingredients

Starter
2 Tsp. Yeast
1/4 Cup lukewarm Water
3/4 Cup Flour – unbleached all-purpose (100g)

Dough
7/8 – 1 1/4 Cups Water
2 1/4 Cups Flour – unbleached all-purpose (300g)
1 Tsp. Salt 

Method

Starter
Dissolve the yeast in 1/4 cup of warm water and allow it to stand for approximately 5 -10 minutes. Add the 3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, and mix until the flour is absorbed. Cover the starter with a cotton towel and allow it to remain at room temperature overnight.

Dough
Mix the salt (1 tsp.) with the flour (2 1/4 cup). Add the additional 7/8 to 1 1/4 cups of water to the starter. The water should be at room temperature. Add the flour/salt mixture, and continue to mix the ingredients to the consistency of a soft dough. Knead with mixer for bout 5 minutes.

Divide the dough into 3 portions. Shape each into a ball. Place balls in to lightly oiled bowl and allow to rise overnight.

When ready to use dough, place a baking stone in the oven and set the temperature to 220. Allow the oven to heat for 30 minutes.

Roll the dough into a circular shape of about 10-12 inches and place on pizza stone. Dress with desired toppings and bake until done to your liking – usually around 10-15 minutes depending on your chosen toppings

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These views are mine and mine only. I don't claim to be any kind of professional food critic, I just know what I do and don't like and express accordingly. Please contact me first if you wish to use any of my images for another purpose.