Sunday, November 2, 2008

'Zza: October Daring Baker's Challenge

I had a friend who called pizza, "zza". It took me a while to figure out what she was talking about but once I did, I was glad to have a friend who's deep love of pizza meant that she had a pet nickname for the food.

One of my absolute favorite foods, all my childhood memories is a moving evolution of pizza. My family moved every two years and so every move meant a new pizza supplier had to be found! Stouffers French Bread to Pizza Hut to Little Caesars and finally to Bertucci's, I loved it all! When I was 14 I found a wonderfully simple recipe for homemade pizza dough in the back of seventeen magazine. I still use the recipe and have the ripped out pages to refer back to.

So when I learned that this month's Daring Baker Challenge was pizza, I was over the moon! I couldn't wait to try a new recipe for dough. I looked over the recipe but was a little bummed by one small issue. It was a two day deal, which was okay, I could do all the work one day but the issue was timing. The second day's instructions said to pull the dough out of the refrigerator two hours before it needed to be ready. Sadly, with my schedule the way it is with the store and all, I'm lucky to get even an hour to prep before guest arrive for dinner! Luckily, E was doing the challenge with me and had the day off so she was able to come over to the apartment and pull out the dough.

Yay! But back to the actual process. I followed the directions and kneaded the dough a bit more than the 5-7 minutes instructed. I was concerned about the consistency of the dough. It seemed a bit tough to me and I was wondered it would turn out too hard (like the Ina Gartener pizza dough had done on me). I kneaded for more like 10-15 minutes and crossed my fingers that the resting time would allow the dough to really get soft and tender.

The Challenge this month also called for sauce. Didn't matter what kind of sauce but I like a simple pizza and so I thought if we made a tomato and cheese pizza well, a jar sauce wasn't gonna be very tasty. I decided to make a simple tomato sauce from scratch. It was so simple. I simmered a can of crush tomatoes and a couple of cups of red wine with a spoonful of tomato paste, a bit of chicken broth, a handful of dried and fresh basil, dried oregano and two cloves of garlic, Later, I added a slug of olive oil and pat of butter and tasted. It was good but something was missing. I sprinkled in some crush red pepper and tasted again. Still good but missing something still! I stood around and pondered, "hmm..."

I added freshly ground nutmeg and the tasted again, the sauce was awesome! Simple but yet complex. The nutmeg seemed to amplify all the other flavors in the sauce. It was quite lovely. Seriously, why is nutmeg not used in more recipes? Hmm... anyway, I highly recommended it for fall soups and sauces!

On Day 2, I came home to E prepping the toppings. A lovely sight indeed :) She had been kind enough to take out the dough and we were ready to rock and roll. I started to follow the instructions on how to toss the dough but I chickened out. I also chickened out on turning the oven up to 500 and left the oven at 485. (I've been a little scared since my oven door glass shattered due to roasted cauliflower). Luckily, E was kind enough to toss the dough for us. I did notice how tender the dough had become. It was perfectly stretchy and soft. Perfect!

E topped it with my homemade sauce and locally made fresh mozerella and slipped it on the pizza stone.

The final product? Awesome! It was a very, very, very simple pizza all made from scratch, but it might have been the best pizza I've eaten in a long time! The sauce was fantastic but the crust was really quite delicious. It was crisp and light and it cooked perfectly with no soggy edges anywhere!

For pictures and more detail, you should check out E's blog

I've very pleased with this Challenge and will definitely keep this recipe handy! However, in the future I'll need to play around with the 2 hour ahead of time step. I'm thinking more like 1 hour or 30 minutes before instead ;)

Thanks for letting me play again Daring Bakers!!!!!!

1 comment:

creampuff said...

Glad you enjoyed the challenge!