Daring Bakers in October: Pizza & Toppings

October 29, 2008 at 4:12 am | Posted in daring bakers, groups, savory things, yeast breads | 39 Comments

pizza with potatoes, rosemary and maldon salt

October’s Daring Bakers’ Challenge is hosted by Rosa of Rosa’s Yummy Yums, and it’s the third recipe the group has made from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice: Mastering The Art of Extraordinary Bread by Peter Reinhart.  Judging from the other two, we will all have had spectacular results with this month’s PIZZA!  I completed the recipe so early in the month (which is quite unusual for me), that I’ve actually had too long to think about what I’d say.  In my head, this became quite a long, rambling post…sorry…I understand if you don’t have the patience!

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like pizza.  I do have a couple of good friends who don’t eat cheese, but they still love cheese-less pizza.  As a New Yorker, I prefer pizza that has a chewy, puffy, nicely browned and slightly salty outer crust.  I think the crusty edge part is just as good as the topping part– you’ll never see me leaving a heap of chewed-around crusts on my plate!  I had a bit of a hard time with pizza in Sydney, where the preference seems to be an ultra-thin crust, with really no outer edge to speak of.  Eventually, we found Pizza Mario in Surry Hills (it’s an accredited member of  l’Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana), which gets my vote as Sydney’s best!

I make pizza often at home, but I’ve had mixed results.  My best work came out of the oven in my last apartment in Brooklyn.  It was an old gas Magic Chef with a bottom heating element (I could see the flames under the oven floor) that got my stone ripping hot.  The bottom crust was always brown and crisp.  In Sydney, we had electric ovens with top heating elements in all three apartments, and no matter how long I preheated my stone, or where I placed it in the oven, I could never get the bottom to brown nicely.  It became quite frustrating, and I tried many dough recipes and little technique modifications along the way.  (It may also be the stone itself, as my old one went into storage accidentally and I had to get a different one in Sydney.  I’ve read about making pizza on the bottom side of a super-hot cast iron skillet under the broiler…sounds promising, but my skillet is kind of small.)  I’m definitely crossing my fingers for a gas oven in the future!

I made half a recipe of dough, from which I formed two largish pizzas.  This is a well-hydrated dough, and requires an overnight rest in the fridge.  I can be held for up to three days, though, so I decided to make one pizza for dinner one night, and the other the next night.  I know that Rosa wanted us to shape the dough by tossing it “like a real pizzaiolo,” but mine was much too sticky.  I had a hard time even with just the hand-stretching.  Despite the stickiness, the dough had a wonderful, soft feel, and I could tell by touch that the recipe would be a good one.

pizza with caramelized onions and gorgonzola

As far as pizza toppings go, I am a minimalist…I don’t like too many different things, or too much of any one thing, either, to weigh down or sog out the crust.  I usually do tomato sauce, mozzarella and basil– black olives, too, if I’m feeling crazy– so I thought I’d try a couple of “unusual” topping combinations for my challenge.  Inspired by a favorite at the aforementioned Pizza Mario, I made a pizza topped with potato, rosemary and Maldon salt with the first night’s dough.  Before baking, I simply sliced a red-skinned potato super-thin with a Japanese mandolin, spiraled the slices on the dough, sprinkled on the rosemary and salt, and drizzled olive oil all over it.  The next night, I slowly caramelized a sliced onion in a little olive oil and butter to top my second pizza.  Then I scattered on bits of gorgonzola picante and some more rosemary.

I just realized, looking back at the DB details to type up this post, that we were supposed to use both toppings and sauce.  Well, we can just consider olive oil to be the sauce on these, because I used copious amounts of the stuff on both pizzas!

pizza with potatoes, rosemary and maldon salt

The pizzas were a hit!  Potato pizza may sound like starch on starch, but it’s really so delicious.  If you’ve never tried it, I recommend giving it a go sometime.  The sweet onions with the sharp gorgonzola was a perfectly balanced match on the second pizza (and, in the oven, some of the onions got a little crispy on the edges– the best part!).  And the dough was wonderful– just the kind of bready crust I like!  I unfortunately had the same problems browning the underside, but I expected that, and I’ll try it again when I’m settled in New York.

Rosa was originally to host this challenge with Sher from What Did You Eat?, and it was Sherry’s idea to make this recipe.  Sherry passed away in July, but Rosa decided to go ahead with her choice, honoring her friend and her accomplishments as a cook and baker.  So don’t call for pizza delivery this weekend!  Make your own instead, and get the recipe on Rosa’s site.  Don’t forget to check out the DB blogroll

DB whisk

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  1. Both of your pizzas are gorgeous but I’m especially drooling over the gorgonzola & onions one: a great choice!

  2. I love your toppings for the pizza especially the one with the potatoes.

  3. Ahh Steph! Such lovely looking pizzas! I could never find good pizzas when I visited Sydney coz Melbourne just had the bestest ever Pizzas!! I couldnt make it this month for the challenge but wish I could have a piece of your pizza now!

  4. Mmm, pizza!!! Love your “minimalist” approach with the potatoes.

  5. j’aime beaucoup les garnitures que tu as mises :) j’ai beaucoup aimé ce défi !

  6. Potato pizza. What a great idea. Love it. It looks beautiful too!!!

  7. I gotta try that potato!! They look awesome!

  8. What a beautiful combination of ingredients! And a beautiful result, of course!

  9. Beautiful! I love how thin you got your slices.

  10. I never thought that potatoes and pizza would look so good together, but you accomplished it! It looks wonderful!

  11. Beautifully done. Potato is a favorite topping of mine.

  12. I’ve got to try your potato topping–that sounds incredible. I’m usually a minimalist with my pizza, too.

  13. Holy Cow, that potato pizza looks to die for! Fantastic job, I’m going to have to borrow your idea!

  14. I can’t believe I’ve never had a potato pizza before after seeing this beautiful pie- The potatoes look so crispy and delicious… Now I really want to try it!

  15. I love anything with gorgonzola in it! Your pizzas look superb!

  16. your pizzas look fabulous. the topping are beautiful and the crust looks great.

  17. I love both toppings you chose. Great pics as always

    Ulrike from Küchenlatein

  18. Your toppings sound delicious and unusual! Looks great!

  19. WOOHOO…looks good to me. I love the idea of potato on starch…your pizza is scrumptious…YUM YUM YUM YUM YUM!

  20. Wonderful looking pizzas! Strange that your posts are not the first to pop up the night before for these challenges and such. Great job with this one!

  21. Too funny – I realized that I hadn’t “technically” used a sauce either – just olive oil! And I agree that the puffy crust is an equally tasty part. Love the potato pizza.

  22. Your pizzas are gorgeous!! And the toppings sound delicious. Great choices!

  23. Wow such unique ideas for pizza. I love the potato one! I must try that!

  24. Yum! I love potato pizza! Your crust looks perfect. My doigh was too sticky to toss as well, but like you, I find that a sticky dough gives a better end result

  25. Hi Steph, great job on your pizzas. It looks so delicious!

  26. Hi! You know I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone that doesn’t like pizza either! How could you not like such beautiful pizzas … those paper-thin slices of potato had my mouth watering. Beautiful!

  27. Great idea with the potato! I’ll have to try that with my left over dough! Great job!

  28. Never thought of potato, but with lots of olive oil I can see it would be great. Your photos are mouthwatering

  29. Potato is a wonderful idea to top this crust. That’s one I hadn’t thought of! Beautiful pics :)

  30. Your pizzas are so pretty! I love the toppings! Very well done!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  31. My mouth is literally watering looking at those thiiiiiinly sliced potatoes. GREAT JOB>

  32. I love how thin the slices of potato are. The pizzas turned out beautiful. I’m with you on the minimalist approach to toppings.

  33. The potato pizza sounds fantastic! …mmm!

  34. Both of your pizzas are beautiful. The potatoes are sliced perfectly thin, and the caramelized onions with gorgonzola sounds fantastic. Nicely done!

  35. I am constantly contemplating potatoes on Focaccia, but never managed to get such a delicious looking result as you. I will have to try with equally thin slices.

  36. My favorite pizza also involves potatoes, so that one looked very good to me.
    I’m crossing my fingers for you on the gas oven when you move. I’m not getting one in my new home but I can hope for someone else still!

  37. Living with a discerning pizza eater (my DH is from the NJ), I’ve learned to appreciate a good crust, and your crust description is exactly what my DH looks for in a good pizza (We live on the WestCoast, so a good NY style pizza is hard, if not impossible to find).

    Beautiful and creative toppings for both of your pizzas!

  38. You must be a perfectionist! This is sucha beautiful, amazing pizza! Potatoes/ rozemary always a good marriage!

  39. Hi Steph – I live Tasmania – and you’ve left the country! Oh noes!

    Pizzas – we don’t own a stone, and have never been able to get the pizza to brown nicely on any kind of tray. Our tip – straight on the oven racks. Shape your pizza, dust semolina on the bottom of it, put your sauce on, then put your pizza straight on the oven racks. Best. Pizza. Ever.

    Love your work!

    Amy


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