Dough Girl

The other weekend I found myself surrounded by dough! In assisting with preparations for my Uncle Jim’s birthday I was in charge of making half of the dough for homemade pizzas. I used two different recipes. One for overnight risen dough that we learned during our KAF pizza class in early July and the other a sourdough dough that came in the recipe book with my sourdough starter. Since I was in the dough mindset I also decided to tackle the first KAF “Bakealong Challenge” which was Pane Bianco. The recipe looked intimidating based on the photo, but the comments all seemed to indicate that it wasn’t as hard as it looks.

The two pizza doughs were very similar since both involved some variation of a starter.  I enjoyed applying my newfound pizza class knowledge in the form of kneading technique (push your hand down through the ball of dough to flatten it, fold it back into a  ball, rotate 90 degrees, repeat) and the “doorbell test” of poking the dough and watching for it to bounce back quickly like a doorbell.  That’s how you tell you’ve kneaded it for long enough.
In hindsight I wish I had left the pizza dough flavor out of the overnight risen dough so I could compare the flavor of the doughs more truthfully, but oh well.  I let the doughs complete their rise at room temp and put them in the fridge once they were full sized.  The overnight dough got HUGE!  It kept rising even after I put it in the fridge.

When it came to shaping and topping we also drew on our pizza class experience with regards to pre-shaping the doughs and letting them rest before stretching them a little more and topping them.  The sourdough was actually a little easier to shape in my opinion.  I’ve always struggled with getting a nice round pizza without holes forming, but the sourdough was particularly easy to work and didn’t get holes too easily.  It turned out that Paul and I were the perfect tag team– he specialized in stretching the dough and I specialized in topping the pizzas.  I was also glad to be cooking with him because I usually wuss out and take the pizzas out too soon, but he helped me to make sure they stayed in long enough to get nice and crisp!  We also used parchment paper on the pizza stones which made a HUGE difference in terms of amount of smoke generated (or lake thereof).  That is a must for all pizza parties moving forward.

All of the dough was delicious!  In the end I couldn’t really tell the difference and I think that’s because they both came from a starter.  Though since I feed my sourdough every week I think a lot more sourdough dough is in my future!

Now jumping back to the pane bianco.  This was an enriched dough, so a little different from the other two, but just as easy to make.  Mixing the dough and letting it rise all went smoothly.  I was most nervous about filling and shaping the dough since I’m not always good at getting dough into perfect rectangles or circles when I’m working with it.  But my KAF rolling mat helped a lot and I got a pretty neat rectangle in the right dimensions.  I traditionally subscribe to the more filling is better camp, but since the recipe notes specifically cautioned against this I was careful.

Rolling the dough up took some care, but went smoothly.  Having seen some of the photos from other people’s bakealongs I knew that some were erring on the side of not cutting deep enough when they cut the dough lengthwise.  I wanted to make sure I cut through every layer of the top half of the roll so I got distinct ridges once the loaf was cooked (like the recipe photo).  I was nervous as I cut because the dough sort of popped open and seemed like it might just all fall flat, but I powered through and got it to a nice S/figure 8 shape in no time.

I baked per the instructions and tented for the end.  It came out looking beautiful if I do say so myself 🙂

I posted to Instagram and the next day one of the greatest moments of my life happened– KAF commented on my photo!  Not only that, but they said it looked just like their recipe photo!  AMAZING!  I danced around the house and feigned fainting as Colin laughed at me.  Still, I count this a major success!


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