Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Daring Bakers October Challenge!

Challenge post time! I almost forgot it was posting day, but I didn't. The challenge this time was pizza. The challenge part was that we were supposed to give doing it classically a go- as in *bounce bounce toss spin spin toss.* I was pretty good at the bouncing, but the tossing- not so much. I did love the recipe though, and have made it three times.

The first time I made it I made the full batch and six pizzas, as is suggested in the recipe. They were for my sister's birthday party, and I didn't get a picture of them fresh because of the hustle and bustle. This is the only picture I got, of the meager remains. They were all topped with red sauce and mozzarella, and then each had different toppings including pepperoni, red pepper, onion, mushroom, tomato, and combinations of those.


The second time I made it I made a half-batch and made three pizzas which were eaten by my surrogate family and some of my friends. No pictures were taken then, but pesto, tomato, and fresh mozzarella donned all three.

The first two times I made them also I didn't do the refrigerate overnight thing, I just let the dough rest at room temperature for two hours and it worked beautifully.

The last time I made it, it was with pesto, grape tomatoes and mozzarella, and I actually got whole pizza photos. The last time I made it I split the dough four ways in stead of six, made two pizzas and six rolls. Also I actually did the refrigerate over night suggestion, which I thought actually made the dough less agreeable.



Here is the recipe, the only difference is that I used active dry yeast in stead of instant, which requires using warm water, dissolving the yeast in the water, then adding it plus the oil to the flour/salt. I edited this a little from what was given to us.:


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 flour
1 3/4 Tsp Salt

1 Tsp instant yeast 

1/4 Cup Olive oil or vegetable oil

1 3/4 Cups Cold Water
1 Tb sugar 
Semolina/durum flour or cornmeal



1. Mix together the flour, instant yeast, and salt in a big bowl (or in the bowl of your stand mixer).

2. Add the oil, sugar and cold water and mix well to form a sticky ball of dough. On a clean surface, knead for about 5-7 minutes.

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 in the fridge, let the dough rest overnight or for up to three days, OR


8. Rest two hours if refrigerated, one if fresh

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.

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.

13. Bake for abour 5-8 minutes.

14. Take the pizza out of the oven; wait 3-5 minutes before slicing or serving. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


So as most people that know me have noticed, I drop my phone a lot. If this were a sitcom, here is where they would insert a montage of clips showing me dropping my phone set to a witty song. I've been getting better about not dropping it, however, I think that today I made up for the not dropping my phone all the time.

I was making cupcakes while talking to my mom on the phone. I got the cupcakes into the oven without a problem, however, when I went to rotate the pans halfway through baking, I dropped my phone.


The door was not open all the way, so my phone slid down the hot door and landed on the bottom of the stove, you know, the metal part right above the FLAMES. My poor mother, she was a little confused. I then proceeded to panic, scramble for tongs, which the Johnsons' don't apparently believe in, grabbed two wooden spoons and fished it out (without burning myself!) It seems to be okay, there are two little melty spots, but they don't seem to be effecting the functioning at all.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

More cupcakes, and a cake. And life.

Today I made a birthday cake and Caramel Apple cupcakes- cupcakes with little pieces of apple in them dipped in gooey caramel. Pretty much delicious.




Amanda was visiting, and Sarah was around because she lives here- they were both tired and I fed them a lot of sugar, so it was pretty fun.


The birthday cake turned out really well, purple and green frosting, with little star sprinkles that Sarah found in the cupboard.




I have my second group critique of senior show work next Thursday. I wish I had more done, but I plan on churning out quite a bit of work this week. I did three sculptures last week, the first was destroyed, and I made two out of that clay. They turned out really well, but my batteries were dead in my camera and now I've taken them to my storage space on campus. I'll post soon about my concept for my show and hopefully put pictures of works in progress.

On the social side of my life, since I'm still looking for a job I have quite a bit of free time. I've been spending quite a bit of time with Jillian, which is really great. I like her a lot. We're in similar places in our lives right now, and we have so much more in common than I thought we did. It's been very nice. I've also had coffee with Brian a few times in the past month. That's been nice too, I'm glad that we can be friends. James and I have also been spending increasing amounts of time together, which is good. That's the nice thing about old friendships, there's enough of a basis there to just pick back up. And of course I've been spending a lot of time with my sister Amanda and her kitty, Zipper.

Life in general is kind of weird right now. I'm going part time, so I'm almost never on campus. I don't have any particular time to be up because my earliest class is at 3 in the afternoon on Tuesday and Thursday, and my other two classes are Wednesday and Thursday nights. I don't work very often, and when I do, it's usually weekend nights at the CLC, or for a few days during the week with the gallery, and that's only about once a month. I have my artwork, which is nice to be able to focus on, and nice to have a lot of time to spend on it, but I don't feel like I'm doing as much as I could be. Bennett said that we should be working harder right now than we ever have been, and I think that's true- I'm just having trouble with my starter it seems. When I do get to work, I work hard and deeply for a long time, it just seems I find myself sleeping more than I mean to most days and getting distracted really easily. I feel like I'm turning into a housecat.

I think that a lot of it is because of my massive lack of structure. I live off campus so I make my own food and can eat whenever I want, I don't have to abide by the dining hall hours. This is good most of the time, but I find myself eating breakfast at 11 and lunch at 4, and dinner is iffy, sometimes happening at 9, or 6 or whenever someone offers me dinner or I am inspired to cook. Sometimes I just pull out some cheese and vegetables and bread and have a picnic standing at the kitchen counter. I'd really like to get a job (especially since I'm quite low on funds at the moment), but part of me wants to take advantage of the ample time I have only spending six to eight hours in class a week to throw myself into my work. Maybe I'm just lazy and don't want to have to take the effort to budget my time. But the other half of me thinks that if I had a part time job at least, I'd have structure and I'd be more productive. But then, it seems like I should be able to just implement structure in my own life, but that is for some reason so much harder than it should be. I've never been good at scheduling personal time.

I basically feel like I bounce along my week in antigravity, floating through the clouds doing little things but not accomplishing much, spending a few hours here and there with friends, but not really being in community with them. It's like everything is falling apart and coming back together all at once, and in slow motion. I'm happier than I've been in a long time, and have more reasons to be happy than I have, but I don't feel there is much that is tangible, and like I'm reaching and not able to grasp my life. I seem to just be kind of confused. I'll stop rambling now.

Tomorrow (tonight, technically) or Saturday we're having a girls' night, probably at Jillian's, so I'm looking forward to that. Also, it's Amanda's birthday as of the strike of midnight 40 minutes ago, Happy Birthday sister!