Wednesday, October 29, 2008

daring bakers - pizza

Finally I've done the latest daring bakers challenge. It's been a while. Actually it's been a while since any post, but more of that later.

This month's challenge was pizza, bought to us by Rosa's Yummy Yums. Recipe and really really badly exposed photos are below:

Pizza Dough
4.5 cups flour (preferably pizza/foccacia flour/high gluten flour), chilled
1 tspn instant yeast
1/4 cup oil
1.75 cups ice-cold water
1 tablespoon sugar

1. Mix together the flour, salt and instant yeast in a big bowl (or if you're a hard core nonna like me, on the kitchen bench).

2. 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.

3. Flour a work surface or counter. Line a jelly pan with baking paper/parchment. Lightly oil the paper.

4. 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).

5. Sprinkle some flour over the dough. Make sure your hands are dry and then flour them. Gently round each piece into a ball.

6. 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.

7. Put the pan into the refrigerator and let the dough rest overnight or for up to thee days.

you will note from this photo, i put my in a mixing bowl. this is partly because i have no freakin' idea what a jelly pan is. well, i know what i think a jelly pan is, but i suspect the concept is different to what the author had in mind.


8. 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.

9. 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).

NOTE: If you do not have a baking stone, then use the back of a jelly pan. Do not preheat the pan. (sub note: i have neither a stone nor a jelly pan, i used a baking tray!)

10. 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.
(picture title: what a tosser)

11. 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.

12. Lightly top it with sweet or savory toppings of your choice.

NOTE: Remember that the best pizzas are topped not too generously. No more than 3 or 4 toppings (including sauce and cheese) are sufficient.

13. Slide the garnished pizza onto the stone in the oven or bake directly on the jelly pan. Close the door and bake for about 5-8 minutes.

14. 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.

Now, let me start by saying that these were darn fine pizzas. I put bacon onion and chili on mine, as they are my favourite pizza flavours by far. The dough was very easy to roll out too, which is good as I like mine real thin. I didn't dust the pan well enough though, and it really stuck in some places, but this is totally my fault.

However, this recipe is a lesson in making a simple thing complicated. Don't chill your flour, don't use ice water and prove the darn dough in the sun and you'll be eating your pizza in a little over an hour. TWO DAYS???? Forget that, I'm into instant food gratification baby. And heating the oven for 45 minutes is another lesson - in environmental vandalism. Crank it up and pop 'em in. I probably had to cook mine a little longer, but the oven was on for a far shorter time (good in our Oz summer), and offered up much less carbon waste.

But pizza is good. Cook lots of pizza. Eat lots of pizza.

And yes, once again I've gone dormant. Three weeks and I'll have the last of my uni assignments done. Six weeks and the (current) peak period at work will end. Roll on school holidays, I say (oh look, it's raining!!)

Sunday, October 19, 2008


my mum got back from Spain on the Wednesday. Any one who's been to Barcelona will probably be familiar with the geese that guard the Cathedral there. When I was in Barcelona I stayed just up the road from the Cathedral, and the geese drove us NUTS.

I had goose once for Christmas dinner in London. It cost a total fortune, and was full of horribly greasy fat that made totally inedible gravy. We were disappointed. I was poor. Thank god for the vodka jelly or it may have totally ruined Christmas, but it's actually a funny story. Maybe it will be my Christmas post.

Monday, October 6, 2008

five random thoughts

random thought, number one
On Joy the Baker yesterday Joy was talking politics (also to be known as the sublime and the ridiculous) and was also treating us to some of her past favourites. While they all sound delicious it draws to my attention how different the food we eat eat is, even in countries with a common language. Joy talks of cherry pies. sounds great, and I've heard them talked about in films and on tv, but I don't think I've ever had the opportunity to eat cherry pie, let alone taken up the challenge. for me a pie has meat in it! However a whoopie pie is a brand new concept to me. Sounds hilarious, and look a bit like something you can get here, although I'm not sure what we call them. Next time I have soft bananas I'll make them (which is unlikely as I love bananas and generally scoff them before they get bakeable). Then there's liquid smoke. Please, if you know what this is, explain it to me!!!

And it makes me wonder what I eat that is strange to others, particularly anglophones. Vegemite is the obvious, but Brits will just think it's a sub-standard version of Marmite, and New Zealanders Promite (they're wrong). Does the US have a version? I try to have a serve of Vegemite every day, and had it with cheese on toast this morning. And our pies are meat pies, not fruit pies. I'm not sure what else??

random thought number twoYesterday Stakkers brought her kids to my place, after bringing them to Adelaide from Perth. Stakkers and I went to uni together a million years ago, but she then moved to Perth where she got married and spurted out the afore mentioned kids, who spent the afternoon yelling and screaming, deconstructing my house and doing rather fantastic chalk drawings all over the driveway (which have since been washed away with overnight rain). It was awesome to see Stakkers again, hopefully she'll be able to move back to Adelaide in a couple of years and this will be a more regular occurrence. It was also a lovely day yesterday, which allowed me to fire up the barbie. The kids had sausages, while us adults had thai-ish chicken (note the coriander below)

and lamb kebabs, one with a tandoori marinade, the other with garlic and rosemary.

PS: JC, you owe me for leaving you out of the photo!!!

random thought number three 我 先介绍一下
Chinese. I'm not doing enough. I listen to my lessons online most days, but never do any of the extension classes, or vocab exercises, let alone actually put pen to paper to practice my characters. As such, it's going no where fast. And I feel like I never have enough time in my life

random thought number four
Which brings me to random thought number four. I am lazy. Really, really lazy. I've had a four day weekend, thanks to a long weekend combined with tonsillitis. And I could have done so much with this time, but I got no-thing to show. Sure, Princess and I went to visit Shep to book some more ink time, but he was on holidays. And the guys came over yesterday. But that's about it. I've set the alarm to get up and ride each morning (I've become 15kg more of BHG than I was 12 months ago, and that's not good), but I just turn the alarm off and sleep till 10. Maybe I'll just become one of those shut in types that need to taken out through the roof with a crane after they die. Then I can just lie in bed with the cats and eat toast. Sounds OK to me really.

But I really, really, really need to do some study today. I am running out of time and still have 50 hours worth of study to do.

random thought number five
I'm listening to the radio at the moment and they're playing Arcade Fire live at the Wireless tonight. I love Arcade Fire.

Friday, October 3, 2008

getting bigger

no, not just my thighs, although they are expanding rapidly - Australia is getting bigger.

we have the big pineapple

the big sheep

the big banana

the big orange

the big crayfish

and these are all great. Australia has approximately 150 big things, and once I win the lottery - and god willing it will be soon - on of the things on my 'to do list' will be to travel the nation and tick 'em all off one by one.

but now, there is the big dim sim

I'm sure this is a joke, but it's bloody fantastic. I'm going to go and leave a comment right now. We Aussies love our dim sims. both the real Chinese type, and the ones you get at the fish and chip shop, huge, fatty, a skin of dubious origin and deep fried until it's just right to harden your arteries.

mmmmm... about to cook dinner. maybe I'll go down the chippy instead!