Pizza is great choice for October, my year anniversary with the Daring Bakers’. Rosa of Rosa’s Yummy Yums, host for this month’s baking event, remarked that no Daring Baker challenge to date has focused on how to make real pizza with an added challenge of tossing the dough like the pros. But the even bigger challenge was not just tossing the pizza dough, but photographing the event! Well, I tried talking myself out of even taking part in the challenge. I couldn’t imagine how I would shoot the photo. My remote cord is not long enough and to set the scene up using the 12 second timer on my camera would require my running back and forth with the dough in my hand. Which is exactly what I did. What the heck! My tossing pizza properly has a long way to go before it’s perfect, but I did it.
Southwestern food is my absolute favorite cuisine and I have used this sauce and topping many times when I have made homemade pizza for the family. It’s easy and very inexpensive to make. ~ BASIC PIZZA DOUGH ~Original recipe taken from “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice” by Peter Reinhart.Makes 4 pizza crustsIngredients: 4 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour or all-purpose flour, chilled1 3/4 teaspoons salt1 teaspoon instant yeast1/4 cup olive oil1 3/4 cups water, ice cold1 tablespoon sugarSemolina or cornmeal for dustingTo Sauce1 can diced tomatoes, drained1/2 cup chunky salsa, mild, medium or spicy1 garlic clove, minced1/3 cups chopped red onion1 tablespoon fresh cilantro leaves, chopped1/4 teaspoon ground cumin1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper1/4 teaspoon saltCombine ingredients in a bowl. Refrigerate until you are ready to assemble the pizzas.To Finish2 ripe avocados, pitted and cut into thin slices1 cup sour cream, (reduced fat works good)1/2 pound grated Pepper Jack cheese, or Monterey Jack cheeseFresh or bottled jalapeno peppers, sliced for garnish, (optional)Day OneMix together the flour, salt and instant yeast in a big bowl. Add the oil, sugar and cold water and mix well to form a sticky ball of dough, either with a wooden spoon, or with the paddle attachment of your mixer, on low speed. On a clean, lightly floured surface, knead 5-7 minutes, until the dough is smooth. If too dry, add a small amount of water; if too wet, add a little more flour. To knead with an electric mixer, switch to dough hook and knead for 5-7 minutes on medium speed. When finished kneading by either method, the dough should be springy, elastic and a little sticky.Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and with a dough scraper, cut into 4 equal pieces, 6 pieces, for smaller pizzas. Sprinkle a little flour over the dough. With floured hands, round each piece of dough into a ball. Place on a parchment lined jelly roll pan. Cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator overnight or up to three days. If desired, you can freeze the dough balls in a oil filmed plastic bag for up to 3 months. The day before you plan to make the pizza, transfer desired dough balls to refrigerator.Day TwoTwo hours before you plan to eat the pizza, remove desired number of dough balls from the refrigerator. Place the dough balls on a lightly floured surface. Dust your hands with flour and lightly press the dough into disks, about 1/2 inch thick and 5 inches in diameter. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for two hours.At least 45 minutes before baking the pizza, place a baking stone on the lower third of the oven. Preheat oven at highest temperature. Sprinkle a baker’s peel or the back of a jelly roll pan with cornmeal or semolina. Press the dough into any shape you want, letting rest for a few minutes between pressing. If you desire to toss the dough, read this tip. When the dough is the shape you want, transfer carefully to the peel or jelly roll pan, making sure there is enough semolina/cornmeal on it to allow dough to slide into the oven once it is topped.To Assemble the PizzasDivide the salsa among the four pizzas, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Lay on the avocado slices, then spoon on sour cream. Sprinkle pizzas with the grated cheese and top with the optional jalapeno slices. Slide pizzas onto baking stone in oven. Bake for about 10 minutes or until crust is lightly browned and topping is bubbly. My highest oven temperature is 500°, if your oven has a higher or lower temperature, adjust baking times.