I knew the dough was gonna be trouble from the moment I read the recipe. I had trepidations when I read that the dough was to be sticky and the ratio of ingredients. But I made the dough for the latest DB challenge anyway.
As promised, it stuck to my hands, to the sides of the mixing bowl, to the dough hook, and clung with great fervor to the scale when I tried to weight it. It clung to the point where even though I had dusted every available surface that the dough could have touched with flour I was still finding bits of it a week later.
Having wrangled it into the fridge, I thought it would get easier.
I was wrong. It stretched OK and though I dropped it several times in the throwing, did not tear. So I arranged it on my baking sheet and topped it accordingly with my favorite pizza sauce, and a stunning course of herb marinated veggies. But when I baked it the crust, which was almost two brown on top was pale and anemic on the bottom. And because it was too soft to place directly onto the rack in my oven, the crust came out doughy and undercooked even though it was relatively thin.
The dough make marginally better calzones but still, the dough itself lacked flavor and character. No chew, no crunch, no real flavor.
I was, to put it mildly disappointed. My mother, who owned a pizza shop for most of my life, looked over the recipe and proclaimed it “doomed to fail.” Instead, she demanded (and that’s putting it mildly) to know why I had not used her calzone dough.
When she ran her restaurant, the pizza was Sicilian style. That is to say, a light, bread like dough that was pre-baked then topped and baked again to create something akin to topping a focaccia with pizza ingredients. But for calzones she made a separate dough. It was softer, slightly sweet and terribly versatile.
We used it for everything, from making individual pizzas to calzones, bread rolls, and piroshky So instead of making up another batch of the DB dough and being disappointed I instead made my mom’s dough.
Unlike the DB dough this one was slightly tacky when mixed but not sticky. It rolled beautifully especially in my mother’s experienced hands. And when baked produced a gorgeous crust, that even though thick, was none the less baked all the way through.
And because I was leaving on a trip, we baked up a few of the dough balls into some apple hand pies, which I have been enjoying for breakfast and even a couple of rolls for sandwiches. You can see the pretty bubbling of the browned roll and the uniformly spongy interior. This is the way crust is suppose to be. Chewy, crunch, dense and utterly delicious.
It even held up beautifully to the heavy topping of sautéed crimini mushrooms and smoked tri-tip that I piled thickly on top of it, baking all the way though despite my heavy hand.
So while I did try the DB challenge pizza dough, I can’t really recommend it.
Instead, try mom’s chameleon dough instead and see what you can make with it.
Mom’s Calzone Dough
2 lb flour (half bread and half all-purpose or all AP)
½ oz active dry yeast (not instant)
1 oz salt
2 oz sugar
1 pint very warm but not hot water
4 oz vegetable oil (either olive or a neutral oil)
In a large measuring cup, mix 1/3 of the water, all of the sugar and yeast. Stir a couple of times and let stand until the yeast blooms. It should almost double in size.
In the mean time, add the flour and salt to the bowl of your mixer. Once the yeast had bloomed, pour the yeast out over the flour and rinse the cup with the remaining water to get all of the residual yeast. Mix with the paddle attachment on low speed.
When the dough begins to come together, pour the oil slowly down the side of the mixing bowl. Continue to mix until the dough has come together then switch to the dough hook. Kneed the resulting dough with the dough hook until it is smooth and slightly tacky, but not sticky to the touch.
If the dough appears dry or too sticky, dribble a little bit more oil down the side of the mixer until the dough smoothes out again,
Lightly flour a baking sheet and portion dough out by the once depending on your purpose. My suggestions:
For small sandwich rolls: 2.5 -3 oz
For hamburger rolls: 5 oz
For hand pies: 2.5 oz
For small calzones: 3-3.5 oz
For large calzones: 5 oz
For meal sized piroshky: 4-5 oz
For small individual pizzas: 5 oz
For a pizza for three: 10 oz
For a large pizza for 4-6: 14 oz
Once the dough is weighed, roll it into balls and place on the floured baking sheet and refrigerate for at least 8 hours and up to 4 days. The dough can be used after a couple of hours but is best when allowed to rest for at least 8.
To use in your favorite recipes:
Bake at 450 degrees until golden,
Place the dough balls onto a prepared baking sheet and allow to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Bake as above.
Remove dough from the refrigerator. Dust a sheet with cornmeal. Gently stretch the dough with your hands to the desired thickness and place atop the cornmeal. Top with your favorite toppings and bake as above. When the dough is lightly browned remove from the pan and place directly onto the wire oven rack to allow the bottom to brown.
For calones and handpies:
Stretch or roll the dough into a circle about a half an inch thick. Top with your favorite fillings and fold the edges over and crimp closed. For handpies I like to crimp on the top. For calsones I crimp on the size. To ensure the dough stays closed roll the edge over itself and crimp a second time. This also forms a pretty edge for calzones. If the filling is wet, it is a good idea to cut a couple of vent holes in the top to allow steam to escape. Bake as above.