Ever since I joined Daring Bakers, two months ago, I wondered what took me so long. OK the challenges were not easy, they are after all about challenging yourself and whilst they’re not the easiest or shortest recipes they somehow they have a knack for giving a challenge with a blow-them-out-of-the-water brilliant recipe. The first challenge was a pizza one, using Peter Reinhart’s Basic Pizza Dough recipe. And since then, I’m afraid I’ve abandoned my Stephanie Alexander recipe in favour of this one. Sure, it takes a bit more time (overnight in the fridge) but the dough makes enough for 6 pizzas and freezing some dough balls in the freezer means that I can have pizza almost every night if I want to.
So when M and her two hungry boys were coming over I knew I’d knock up a range of pizzas. I asked M what her boys like. Cryptically, she replied:
Hi, S loves simple Margarita with no Tomato Chunks. In also like Hawaiian without Pineapple – yes it sounds strange…
I eat everything
Haha! Don’t you love kids and their idiosyncratic eating? In any case I knew I could do something interesting with our adult pizzas and I happened to have some Triple Cream Brie in the fridge that needed someone to eat it (mememe!). My husband and S, in an effort to expend some energy as the boys were bouncing off the walls, ran down to the shops and bought a bunch of asparagus and it was a done deal. Below is the pizza dough recipe, adapted slightly to what I do now that I’ve made a few batches of this. This time I replaced 1 cup of the regular flour with wholemeal flour. I’ve put White Truffle oil as optional (after tasting real truffle, I realise it’s nothing like it), only because I don’t like the stuff but my husband does.
Triple Cream Brie-food of the gods (cheese of the gods just sounds weird)
As for the boys, they seemed to like their margarita with no tomato chunks pizza (read: tomato pizza sauce and cheese pizza) and Hawaiian without pineapple (read: ham pizza) and by the end of the day, after bouncing all over our place with the Swiss ball, eating pizza and ice cream sundaes, they’d exhausted themselves and M took them home to sleep.
Asparagus and Triple Cream Brie Pizza
- 1/2 bunch of asparagus thin stalks, if thick ones, cut in half vertically.
- 60grams Triple Cream Brie
- 50g cheese (mozarella or whatever good melting cheese you like)
- salt and pepper to season
- White Truffle oil (optional)
Basic Pizza Dough
Original recipe taken from “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice” by Peter Reinhart.
Makes 6 pizza crusts (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter).
- 4 1/2 Cups (20 1/4 ounces/607.5 g) Unbleached high-gluten (%14) bread flour or all purpose flour, chilled (I used 3 1/2 cups plain flour and 1 cup of wholemeal flour)
- 1 3/4 Tsp Salt
- 1 Tsp Instant yeast
- 1/4 Cup (2 ounces/60g) Olive oil or vegetable oil (both optional, but it’s better with)
- 1 3/4 Cups (14 ounces/420g or 420ml) Water, ice cold (40° F/4.5° C)
- 1 Tb sugar
- Semolina/durum flour or cornmeal for dusting
1. Mix together the flour, salt and instant yeast in a big bowl (or in the bowl of your stand mixer). Place in fridge to chill.
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. If you are using an electric mixer, switch to the dough hook and mix on medium speed for about 5 minutes.The dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom of the bowl. If the dough is too wet, sprinkle in a little more flour, so that it clears the sides. If, on the contrary, it clears the bottom of the bowl, dribble in a teaspoon or two of cold water. The finished dough should be springy, elastic, and sticky, not just tacky, and register 50°-55° F/10°-13° C.
3. Flour a work surface or counter. Line a large container (with a lid) with baking paper/parchment on the bottom and side. 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). To avoid the dough from sticking to the scraper, dip the scraper into water between cuts.
5. Sprinkle some flour over the dough. Make sure your hands are dry and then flour them. Gently round each piece into a ball. If the dough sticks to your hands, then dip your hands into the flour again.
6. Transfer the dough balls to the container and brush the tops with oil. Place lid on container.
7. Put the container into the refrigerator and let the dough rest overnight or for up to thee days.
NOTE: You can store the dough balls in a zippered freezer bag if you want to save some of the dough for any future baking. In that case, pour some oil(a few tablespoons only) in a medium bowl and dip each dough ball into the oil, so that it is completely covered in oil. Then put each ball into a separate bag. Store the bags in the freezer for no longer than 3 months. The day before you plan to make pizza, remember to transfer the dough balls from the freezer to the refrigerator.
Thinly sliced Triple Cream Brie, asparagus and cheese
8. On the day you plan to eat pizza, an hour or two before you make it, remove the desired number of dough balls from the refrigerator. Dust the counter with flour. 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.
9. At least 45 minutes before making the pizza, place a baking stone on the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 220° C).
NOTE: If you do not have a baking stone, then use a baking tray without sides. Do not preheat the pan.
10. Generously sprinkle the baking tray 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 if you want to. I never do this, I just bounce and stretch it.
NOTE: Make only one pizza at a time. During the tossing process, if the dough tends to stick to your hands, lay it down on the floured counter and reflour your hands, then continue the tossing and shaping.
In case you would be having trouble tossing the dough or if the dough never wants to expand and always springs back, let it rest for approximately 5-20 minutes in order for the gluten to relax fully,then try again.
You can also resort to using a rolling pin, although it isn’t as effective as the toss method.
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 baking sheet, making sure there is enough semolina/durum flour or cornmeal to allow it to slide and not stick to the pan.
12. Top with thin slices of Triple cream brie and asparagus and then sprinkle the grated melting cheese over the top.
13. Slide the garnished pizza onto the stone in the oven or bake directly on the baking sheet. 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. Drizzle with white truffle oil if using.
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