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Sep 21, 2012

BBA Challenge #25 Pizza Napolitana | #26 Poolish Baguettes | #27 Portuguese Sweet Bread

The next three recipes in my chronicle of baking every recipe in Peter Reinhart's Bread Baker's Apprentice.

#25 Pizza Napoletano

Thin crust pizza. Oh yeah.

If you like thin crust pizza, and are willing to get semolina all over your kitchen and oven, make this pizza. Or use parchment paper to avoid the semolina mess. While true pizzaphiles might be able to tell the difference, I was perfectly happy with the pizza baked on the parchment placed on a preheated stone.

The three pizzas in this photo were baked with the parchment method (see this article in Saveur). The other three were made by placing the shaped dough on a peel sprinkled heavily with semolina, topping the pizzas, and then placing them on the stone by jerking the peel out from under the pizza. Let's just say they ended up more like amoebas than circles. Tasty, but not photogenic. There was semolina everywhere.

This dough requires cold flour, ice cold water, and an overnight retardation in the refrigerator. The dough is also very sticky. You shape it by lifting it up and stretching it with your knuckles from underneath the pizza until it gets very thin.

The pizzas are fairly small, about 12 inches in diameter. That is a good thing because stretching a larger piece of dough that thin is probably best left to the professionals. Unfortunately, this makes serving this pizza for a large group of guests difficult, as you have to make the pizzas one at a time.

Nevertheless, I loved this pizza. I had leftovers for breakfast.

I used an uncooked tomato sauce recipe from Nancy Silverton's Mozza and topped them with big chunks of mozzarella that melted while the pizzas were baking in the 550 degree oven. Some of the pizzas were also topped with prosciutto. Once the pizzas came out of the oven, I sprinkled either fresh basil or fresh green onions on them.

The pizza sauce recipe can also be found on Saveur's website.

To find out how other bakers liked this recipe, google BBA Challenge #25, Pizza Napolitana.

#26 Poolish Baguettes

This bread starts with a poolish, which is a preferment (you make it a day before you bake the bread, let it get bubbly, and then refrigerate it overnight).

The dough consists of the poolish, bread flour, and either sifted whole wheat flour or clear flour. OR, you can just use bread flour and add 2 T of whole wheat flour. I happened to have some clear flour that I impulsively bought from King Arthur Flour, so I used that.

The dough requires two rises before shaping. For once, I was able to actually get my baguettes to stand up to slashing! I was pretty proud of myself.

I will make these loaves again, especially when I am feeling defeated by other baguette recipes.

To find out how other bakers liked this recipe, google BBA Challenge #26, Poolish Baguettes.

#27 Portuguese Sweet Bread

This bread begins with a "sponge," which is a preferment that you let sit until it gets foamy. The dough, along with flour, water, and salt, includes sugar, milk, butter, shortening, eggs, and lemon, orange, and vanilla extracts. The loaves are shaped into boules and baked in pie tins. The crust gets very dark but does not burn. While my reaction to this bread was lukewarm, my grandson said it made "the best French toast I've ever tasted!"

To find out how other bakers liked this recipe, google BBA Challenge #27, Portuguese Sweet Bread.

Would you like to comment?

  1. Okay, everything looks amazing...but that pizza? Ridiculous!! I need it in my life.


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