A college student learns to make friends with their pizza delivery guy. You get to know them, tip them well, and in return, they deliver your pizza faster. Trust me, it’s never good to piss off your pizza guy because… Well, you don’t wanna know, but take it from me who has a couple of delivery friends, treating servers bad is NOT smart. (For more information, see the movie Waiting.)
Sadly, my pizza guy hasn’t been by my house in years. Frankly, after 3 years of on-and-off dating, me and my pizza place have broken up. Let’s just say we had irreconcilable differences aka after a bout of food poisoning, I’ve never returned.
When I saw Rosa had chosen Peter Reinhart’s pizza dough, I thanked my baking gods because making homemade pizza is a serious skill I have yet ot master. Sure, I’ve made this easy one from Giada de Laurentiis, but Peter Reinhart is the king of all bread, whereas Giada is just a mere princess in that realm. Sadly, Rosa’s baking buddy passed a way recently, leaving her all by her lonesome, but I think the hundreds of Daring Baker’s would say that she was not alone in this challenge.
I should’ve made this pizza about two weeks ago, when I had the chance to savor each slice and really master the technique. Frankly, I’m swamped with papers, projects, tests and when I’m stressed, my appetitie turns to fast, easy, and sometimes junky food (such as Lesser Evil Black & White Kettle Korn, Amy’s Organic Black Bean Soup, roasted butternut squash with butter, Trader Joe’s Rainbow Trail Mix, and the all important, COFFEE.)
I haphazardly threw this pizza together yesterday, let it rise overnight, and prepped it all a mere few hours ago. Swallowing my fear of yeast, I prayed the end result would turn out ok. I’ve never used bread four in pizza dough, but it produces a much more tender pizza than regular all purpose. Also, rapid rise yeast is less scary than active dry since you are basically guaranteed a rise.
Instead of the basic but yummy Margherita variety, I used up my Trader Joe Spicy Chicken Sausage, which is good enough to eat on it’s own. For the sauce, I used this delicious Italian Sausage Meat Sauce that was so good in this pizza because it added a slight acidity along with some sweetness to the dish. I actually referenced Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone when making this pizza, which is ironic since my pizza uses meat. Oh well…
Overall, the crust was really good but it was super thin. I chalk this up to my lack of following directions. I rolled my crust out pretty thin and tossed it a couple of times BEFORE letting it proof for 2 hours. I don’t know if this made a difference, but after two hours, my pizza was really thin and wispy. Plus, I measured out the dough and divided it in to 6-ounce pizza balls, and froze the other 5 balls for future use. 6 ounces makes for a good size pizza in my book, and with this recipe I can get about 7 to 8 slices. But that’s just me, and if you like thick crusts, you might want to divide your dough in to 4 parts instead of 6. I happen to be a fan of thin pizzas, but if you aren’t you might want to use more dough.
10 minutes in the oven was long enough to slightly darken the edges, but thoroughly cook the middle. I like mine crispy instead of soft but if you want, decrease the baking time. As it is, the pizza here gave a nice crunch when bitten into. The sauce was a little runny, but I don’t care. This recipe reminded me more of a flatbread instead of a pizza, which is ok by me.
Go and check out the numerous pizza recipes out there, as I think some of my fellow bakers made sweet versions. For some reason, I haven’t jumped on the dessert pizza route, but one day I will enter that fine world of nutella and pizza. Till then, here is the pizza recipe followed by the challenge’s Peter Reinhart recipe for the pizza dough.
Spicy Chicken Sausage Pizza with Olives & Mozzarella
Origin: Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison
Yield: 8 to 10 slices
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 8 to 10 minutes
● 6 ounces basic pizza dough (recipe below)
● 1/2 cup italian tomato sauce, (mine was storebought from Trader Joes)
● 3 ounces mozzarella cheese, (I used part-skim)
● 3 ounces medium olives, sliced
● 1 tsp dried oregano
● extra virgin olive oil
Prepare pizza dough (recipe below).
Preheat oven to 500℉.
Roll or stretch out the dough into a 9-inch circle, place it on a floured peel or pizza pan, and let it rest for 10 minutes.
Spread tomato sauce, leaving an 1/2-inch border around the edge.
Scatter 2 ounces of the cheese and all the olives over the sauce, then add sausage.
Scatter the last ounce of cheese on top. Add the dried oregano, and drizzle a little olive oil over all.
Bake on a stone or in the pan until the pizza is bubbling, about 10 minutes.
Basic Pizza Dough
Origin: The Bread Baker’s Apprentice by Peter Reinhart
Yield: 6 pizza crusts, weighing about 6 ounces each (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter)
Prep Time: 30 minutes plus 2 hours to proof
Cooking Time: 8 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: chill overnight in the fridge
● 4 1/2 cups 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 Cup (2 ounces/60g) Olive oil or vegetable oil (both optional, but it’s better with)
● 1 3/4 cup Cups (14 ounces/420g or 420ml) Water, ice cold (40° F/4.5° C)
● 1 tbsp sugar
● Semolina/durum flour or cornmeal for dusting
Mix together the flour, salt and instant yeast in a big bowl (or in the bowl of your stand mixer).
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. Flour a work surface or counter. Line a jelly pan with baking paper/parchment. Lightly oil the paper. 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). To avoid the dough from sticking to the scraper, dip the scraper into water between cuts.
Sprinkle some flour over the dough. Make sure your hands are dry and then flour them. Gently round each piece into a ball. If the dough sticks to your hands, then dip your hands into the flour again. 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. Put the pan into the refrigerator and let the dough rest overnight or for up to three 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.
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.
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). If you do not have a baking stone, then use the back of a jelly pan. Do not preheat the pan.
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.
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. 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.
Lightly top it with sweet or savory toppings of your choice. 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. 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.
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.