Before I get to this Autumn Vegetable Pizza with Roasted Garlic Chevre Cream Sauce..it’s now confirmed; I’m finally having surgery to reattach the ligaments in my right knee this coming Monday (November 3rd), barring any problems that arise prior to then. Since the hospital stay, I’ve been in a physical therapy facility due to my original orthopedist assuming I could heal most of my ligaments through therapy, and do fine without surgery. Thank god for second opinions, as not only did my ligaments NOT heal since I was putting weight on my knee in physical therapy each day, but one of my important ligaments, the ACL, would have been beyond repair if we’d waited any longer!
OK, that was the update, but how does this pertain to this month’s DB challenge? Well, I have not been able to bake or cook anything for over a month, and I thought I’d miss out on several DB challenges, not to mention other challenges I take part in, and of course, cooking on a daily basis at home or work (insert frown) .
However, I lucked out. Even though I can’t walk, much less put more than 2% weight on my right leg, I still have use of the two most important kitchen tools in the world; my hands *wiggling and waving fingers*. Upon hearing of my plight to get back into the kitchen again, Brenda, the recreational director here, generously offered up the recreation kitchen to me, suggesting that it would be great to turn it into a pizza class-demo. Naturally, I jumped at the chance, especially considering that not being able to cook and bake for so long is akin to Heroin withdrawal for me (NOT that I ever used Heroin, but the longing to cook and bake was purdy severe!).
Before I go any further, I’d like to thank this month’s host, Rosa of Rosa’s Yummy Yums and offer my condolences upon hearing of the sudden passing of Sher earlier this year, who planned this challenge with Rosa. I never had the pleasure of meeting her, but I can tell she was a great gal, not to mention a great cook. RIP, Sher; may you be making pizza in with us in Heaven.
Now that the date for my pizza demo was set (October 29th, the posting date – go figure), and once my family lugged tons of my kitchen equipment (baking stone, peel, my favorite knife for all the slicing and dicing I planned to do, my pepper grinder, all kinds of toppings, among many other things I needed) to the rehab center, we were ready to go. I planned out my own pizza for this challenge, but for everyone else I cooked up a simple tomato/pizza sauce, provided a variety of cheeses, mushrooms, pepperoni, fresh basil (they just happened to have purple basil growing in the herb garden here, and although probably on its last legs, it was still fragrant and lovely), and a myriad of Fall vegetables which I roasted until beautifully caramelized, for my pie, so they could create their own pizzas. I made a double batch of the dough to insure there would be enough for everyone, and there was. I would say about 16-18 people showed up, maybe half to just watch.
Thanks so much to Brian, Melissa, Katarzyna et al, for all the help, not to mention running around grabbing the ingredients and equipment I needed (every time I asked) since I couldn’t do much more than wheel my lame self to the prep table!
Although a little chaotic (pizza dough was being rolled on paper place mats since there were not enough boards, and the electric oven in the kitchen seemed to have an adverse effect on the dough, regardless of the preheated baking stone, resulting in a very light crust), including the oven smoking so much that the pizza baking had to stop before I could put together and bake mine, it was still a lot of fun, and everyone seemed to really enjoy it..raving over the flavors and texture of all of their personal pizzas.
As for the tossing of the dough, since we had to wear gloves according to the center’s rules, it was impossible to spin, stretch, and toss it up without it sliding off the gloves. However, Katarzyna, the center’s baking wunderkind who was such a great help to me during this class, managed to get that dough going. Although she also couldn’t toss it up in the air due to the gloves, she got some serious spin and stretch on it, resulting in a super thin and perfect disk of dough.
After the demo, it was time to create my pizza; but as mentioned above, I had to wait until late the next day due to the smoking oven. When all was finally resolved, and the main kitchen graciously let me chuck my baking stone into one of their industrial ovens, I went to work.
I originally wanted to create two pizzas, one a dessert-cheese plate type of pie consisting of caramelized apples atop a layer of frangipane overlapping with or topped with brie, but due to time constraints and an achy leg, I decided to just make my savory pizza. I wanted to invoke the colors and flavors of Fall, since it is Fall, and it is my favorite season, so I decided on caramelized fall vegetables on top of a chevre-roasted garlic cream sauce with rosemary. Although the pizza already contained a base of cheese, I really didn’t think it would suffer with a mound or two of fresh mozzarella and a little shredded parmesan. A bit of chopped sage and rosemary was the final touch.
Even though the dough didn’t brown or puff much (I don’t know if it was the recipe or the electric oven in the rec kitchen) , it was still quite flavorful and crispy/chewy. Most seemed to like it, although I prefer two other pizza dough recipes I’ve been using for years.
When it comes to the vegetable topping, remember, carrots and parsnips take longer to cook than potatoes and squash, so cutting them a little smaller than the potatoes and squash, or roasting them separately, would be a good idea. Unfortunately, due to unfamiliar surroundings, rushing, etc..I didn’t check the carrots and parsnips for tenderness, so they still had some bite to them on the pizza, which I didn’t like (unless you’re cravin’ a crudite pizza!).
Below are Brian’s hands holding a slice perfectly still while I rapidly snapped photos. Any longer, and he may have keeled over. Thanks, Brian!
And now onto the recipe. The pizza dough chosen by Rosa and Sher is from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread by Peter Reinhart; the same book the below lavash crackers came from, a MUST HAVE for lovers of bread baking! Like the lavash crackers, the following recipe for the pizza dough gives you instructions for gluten AND gluten-free dough.
Basic Pizza Dough
- 4 1/2 Cups (20 1/4 ounces/607.5 g) Unbleached high-gluten (%14) bread flour or all purpose flour, chilled –FOR GF: 4 ½ cups GF Flour Blend with xanthan gum or 1 cup brown rice flour, 1 cup corn flour, 1 cup oat flour, 1 ½ cup arrowroot, potato or tapioca starch + 2 tsp xanthan or guar gum
- 1 3/4 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon instant yeast – FOR GF use 2 teaspoons
- 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 tablespoon sugar – FOR GF use agave syrup
- 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).
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.
NOTE: If you are using an electric mixer, switch to the dough hook and mix on medium speed for the same amount of time.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.
2. FOR GF: Add the oil, sugar or agave syrup and cold water, then 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.
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).
NOTE: 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.
NOTE: If the dough sticks to your hands, then dip your hands into the flour again.
6. Transfer the balls of dough 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.
NOTE: You can store the balls of dough 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 tablespooons 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 balls of dough from the freezer to the refrigerator.
8. On the day you plan to eat pizza, exactly 2 hours before you make it, remove the desired number of balls of dough from the refrigerator. Dust the counter with flour and spray lightly with oil. Place the balls of dough 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.
8. FOR GF: On the day you plan to eat pizza, exactly 2 hours before you make it, remove the number of desired balls of dough from the refrigerator. Place on a sheet of parchment paper and sprinkle with a gluten free flour. Delicately press the dough into disks about ½ inch/1.3 cm thick and 5 inches/12.7 cm in diameter. Sprinkle the dough with flour, mist it again with spray oil. Lightly cover the dough round with a sheet of parchment paper and 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.
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.
10. FOR GF: Press the dough into the shape you want (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter – for a 6 ounces/180g piece of dough).
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 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.
11. FOR GF: Lightly top it with sweet or savory toppings of your choice.
12. Lightly top it with sweet or savory toppings of your choice.
12. FOR GF: Place the garnished pizza on the parchment paper onto the stone in the oven or bake directly on the jelly pan. Close the door and bake for about 5-8 minutes.
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 abour 5-8 minutes.
13. FOR GF: Follow the notes for this step.
NOTE: After 2 minutes baking, take a peek. For an even baking, rotate 180°.
If the top gets done before the bottom, you will need to move the stone or jelly pane to a lower shelf before the next round. On the contrary, if the bottom crisps before the cheese caramelizes, then you will need to raise the stone or jelly.
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.
Roasted Autumn Vegetable Pizza with Roasted Garlic Chevre Cream Sauce
Pizza dough recipe, above.
Roasted Garlic Chevre Cream Sauce
- 4 oz chevre or any mild, soft goat cheese
- 4 cloves roasted garlic, mashed
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
- salt and pepper to taste
In a small saucepan over low heat, whisk together the chevre, roasted garlic, cream, and rosemary until the mixture is well blended and heated through. Season with salt and pepper if it needs it. Let cool before spreading on pizza dough.
Makes enough sauce for 3 medium or 2 large pizzas
Roasted Caramelized Fall Vegetables
- One 1 lb butternut squash, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 lb red new potatoes, or a mix of red new potatoes and small blue potatoes, if you can find them, chopped
- 2 medium red onions, chopped
- 1/2 lb parsnips, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1/2 lb carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
- olive oil
- kosher salt and fresh black pepper
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Spread vegetables on a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet. Drizzle with enough olive oil to lightly coat all the veggies. Sprinkle with salt and fresh cracked black pepper, then toss to coat all.
2. Roast until vegetables are tender and beginning to brown, 40 to 50 minutes, tossing them every 10 minutes or so. To store, if you’re making the pizzas at a later time; let them cool, then place in an airtight container, and refrigerate up to 3 days. Pour off any accumulated liquid before using.
- fresh mozzarella cheese
- shredded or grated parmesan cheese (not from the can)
- 1 tablespoon chopped rosemary
- 1 tablespoon chopped sage
Makes enough for 3 medium or 2 large pizzas
To Assemble the Pizzas
Spread rolled out dough with enough of the chevre cream sauce to cover and a sprinkling of mozzarella cheese. Top with some roasted vegetables and then as much mozzarella as desired. Add some shredded parmesan cheese if desired, then sprinkle with the chopped rosemary and sage. Bake as instructed in the above dough recipe.
Sauce and toppings make 2 large or 3 medium pizzas.