Daring Baker's Challenges – September and October

This is my second month doing the Daring Baker’s Challenge.

The first month was muddled up by Ike, but hey, I DID manage to get two dips for the crackers done:

A spicy olive and caper tapenade
and a dried fruit compote
both vegan.
I never did get to the crackers
so we’ve eaten the dips with Triscuits.

I have a feeling they would have been better with September’s challenge
which was lavash crackers.

Still, Triscuits performed admirably.

They dips are are both out of Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison.

October’s challenge was “Pizza Napoletana” from Peter Reinhart’s “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice.”

I already have a go-to pizza recipe
so I was not too thrilled about this
especially since I was hoping for a sweet challenge
but I gave it a go.

Maybe my go wasn’t good enough
because while everyone else who made this recipe raved about it
I was not impressed.

I’m pretty sure I have only myself to blame
and I’m sure I will try this recipe again
because I do like thin crust pizza.

Mine was just TOO thin
and didn’t crisp up in the middle.

I got busy baking before I started taking pictures
so no mise en place for you.

Also it was dark outside
and the lighting in my tiny kitchen is pretty bad
so the pictures are what they are.
SIGH.

On with the show.

Dough in the mixer:

Properly pulled away from the sides
and still attached to the bottom
per the instructions:

Blob ready for splitting:

Asexual reproduction, RIGHT ON MY COUNTERTOP:

I put them in the fridge for an overnight rise
and the next day Husband took them out and flattened two for me for dinner that night
(maybe I can blame the less than impressive pizza’s on his hand in the whole thing…)

The rested there for two hours
and then it was time to stretch them out.
We were supposed to toss them
but that was not happening with this dough.

Instead I carefully stretched it
and no matter how hard I tried
it still had holes

I pinched them shut
and no one was the wiser
except for all you people on the internet now.

We’re old fashioned here in our household
so it was just reg’lar pepperoni pizzas

I shredded ball mozzarella on top of the sauce
for which I used a recipe from Cook’s Illustrated.

(Note to self: try to find pepperoni without so much dye in it. Probably not good for the health to eat this much red dye.)

I previously cranked up my oven to 550F
(or so I THOUGHT!)
and my pizza stone had been in there for at least half an hour too.

After about 8 minutes in the oven
THIS emerged

The outer crust was great
it was just too thin in the middle
with no crunch.

I think next time I will just have to make them thicker in the middle.

Pizza No. 2 came out the same way as the first
so for kicks I threw my oven thermometer in the oven to see if it was really reaching 550F.

The answer was HELL NO.
It was only about 450F
so this probably did not help my uncripsy pizza.

The moisture content from the ball mozzarella probably didn’t help either.

Again
I think the unsuccess of these pizzas rests entirely on my shoulders
and not on the recipe itself.

I’ll be revisiting it again
with a lower moisture content cheese
thicker crusts
and aiming for a much hotter oven temperature.

Goodness knows the recipe made four other balls of pizza
so I’ve got enough practice dough to last me a while.