The Great British Bake Off is one my favorite shows, inspiring new bakes, new flavors, and new techniques! Join me on my journey to bake through all the Season 8 Challenges.
Total Cooking Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
The Great British Bake Off is a classic show for bakers and those looking for a friendly competition. All the bakes on the show look delicious and I often want to try baking them myself! I finally got off the couch and into the kitchen to recreate some of the recipes from Bake Off! I chose to start with season eight of Bake Off as it is my favorite season and the one with some of my favorite challenges!
The technical for Italian week is something I hold near and dear to my heart: pizza! Who doesn’t enjoy a good pizza? Now this is somewhat of a staple in my house, so I have made (and helped make) pizza many a time. But I have never made a dough that only needed to rest for 45 minutes. Nor a sauce that was cooked! So, I was very excited to see how this one would turn out. I did base this recipe on the original provided by Prue.
The classic ingredients needed for pizza dough are flour, yeast, salt, and water. Everything else is just a little extra. I was very intrigued that this dough required fresh yeast over the classic active-dry yeast. I believe this helps give a texture to the crust as well as allows the dough to fully rise in a short amount of time.
For the sauce, I used garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, salt, sugar, and tomatoes. The tomatoes are especially important. Even before using Prue’s recipe, I was all about those delicious San Marzano tomatoes. They are truly the best base for pizza sauce as they have such a unique and delicious taste.
And the topping are simple, fresh Mozzarella and Basil. One thing to keep in mind while getting mozzarella (of any type) is the moisture content. The more moisture, the less melty the cheese. While a high-moisture cheese might not be great for a cheese pizza, we’re making a margarita pizza which is a little different.
Making the Dough
The dough is the core of the pizza so it’s important to take your time and make sure the dough really comes together. The first step is mixing the flour and salt. The salt is distributed throughout the flour, so it does not inhibit the yeast. I believe this to be more important when using fresh yeast than when using active-dry yeast.
In a separate bowl, the active yeast, sugar, and warm water. This is seen more as the “wet ingredients”. Together they will make a paste which is going to be mixed into the flour. Here a little olive oil and some more water was added to bring everything together into a dough.
And just like most bread doughs, this is going to require some kneading. This will help develop the gluten strands in the dough. Once the dough becomes smooth and tight, I covered the dough and left it to rise in a warm space.
Making the Sauce
I was a little surprised to find that the sauce was cooked for this recipe. From what I’ve done before, the sauce was in a raw state because the San Marzano tomatoes were perfect in their natural form. But I will follow Prue’s instructions even if I don’t think it was needed.
One of the biggest notes about this recipe is that there is garlic infused into the sauce. In fact, that’s the first thing that will be cooked in the oil. Once the garlic has become soft, I added in the tomatoes and mashed them to get a smooth consistency. This can also be accomplished by getting crushed tomatoes instead of whole tomatoes.
The lemon juice, sugar, and salt are then mixed into the boiling tomatoes and the sauce is left to simmer. This will help create a classic sauce like consistency that you often see with store bought pizza sauce. Make sure to adjust the sauce to your taste and leave to cool.
Assembling the Pizza
When the dough is ready, it’s time to assemble the pizza! The first step is shaping the dough. The dough that was made early is enough for two pizzas so the first thing I did was split the dough into two.
I then made a pizza using half of the total dough. Prue recommends using the tossing method which is the very showing way that trained pizza makers use to stretch the dough. It’s also very difficult for an amateur to do.
I prefer to use the knuckle stretch method where I hold up the dough with my knuckles and allow gravity to do most of the stretching for me. This method has become my tried-and-true method for shaping the pizza
This is when I typically put the dough on the peel (or you can use a baking sheet if you don’t have a pizza peel). I like to dust the peel with semolina because it prevents the dough from sticking to the surface. With the dough prepared, I put down a layer of sauce and then a sprinkling of mozzarella on top.
Then it was time to bake. Transferring the pizza from the peel to the pizza stone in the oven (or from the baking sheet to another baking sheet) can be a challenge. Especially if the pizza decided to stick to the pizza peel. Once the pizza hits the pizza stone, there is no turning back. If the pizza becomes a funny shape, just embrace the funny shape.
I will say making a perfect shape is extremely difficult. It takes a lot of practice and I still mess it up. This recipe makes two pizzas so room to make mistakes on the first one. Getting the pizza out of the oven isn’t as bad. And when the pizza is out of the oven, I sprinkled it with some fresh basil. Then it’s time to eat!
Making pizza is something that I really enjoy but there were several steps of the process I didn’t realize I had never done before. Like transferring the pizza from the peel to the stone in the oven. The first time I did this, it didn’t go well. But pizza can taste delicious even if it is in a funky shape!
Am I ready for bake-off? This technical challenge turned out really well. I definitely had a bit of a homecourt advantage because pizza is something I have made in the past. I definitely found the difference between the fresh yeast and the active dry yeast (that I’m used to doing) to be very interesting. The fresh yeast activated much faster and created a nice rise on the cook.
Why Use a Pizza Stone?
By placing the baking sheet and the pizza stone in the oven before baking allow for more heat to be distributed through the crust. A pizza stone is made of a material that hold heat more evenly than a metal baking sheet. Preheating the pizza stone will also bring a strong burst of heat to the dough which will cause the crust to puff.
- 1 Cup All-Purpose Flour
- ½ Teaspoon Salt
- 10 g Fresh Yeast approximately ⅕ of a 2 oz stick
- Granulated Sugar
- 115 ml Lukewarm Water
- 2 Tablespoon Olive Oil
- Cornmeal for sprinkling
- 3 Tables[ppm Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
- 4 Garlic Cloves peeled and minced
- 1 Can Marzano Tomatoes
- Juice of ½ lemon
- ½ Teaspoon Granulated Sugar
- Pinch of Salt
- 1 Tablepsoon Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
- Ball Mozerella
- Basil Leaves
Prepping the Dough
- Mix the flour and salt for the dough and create a well in the center. In a separate bowl, mix the yeast, sugar, and 1tablespoon of the warm water to create a thin cream.
- Pour the yeast into the flour well. Add olive oil and enough water for the ingredients to come together as a soft dough.
- Knead for 10 minutes, the dough should be smooth.
- Cover the dough with oiled cling film. Leave to rise somewhere warm but not hot until doubled in size. This should take about 45 minutes.
Making the Tomato Sauce
- Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Fry the minced garlic for one to two minutes on a low heat until softened but without color.
- Add the tomatoes to the frying pan and squash them using the back of a wooden spoon.
- Bring to a boil. Add lemon juice, sugar, and salt.
- Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 5 to10 minutes until it has a saucy consistency. Season to taste.
Baking the Pizza
- Heat the oven to 475 degrees Fahrenheit and place the pizza stone or baking sheet in the oven.
- Uncover the dough and gently knock it back on a lightly floured worktop. Dividing the dough into 2 balls.
- Use either the tossing method or the knuckle stretch method to shape the dough into the pizza base (about 30 cm round).
- Dust a pizza peel or baking sheet with cornmeal and place the dough onto the surface.
- Brush with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Spread the tomato sauce over the top and place chunk of mozzarella over the top.
- Transfer the pizza onto the stone or the baking sheet in the oven. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until the crusts are golden, and the cheese is bubbling.
- Repeat process with the other half.
- Remove from the oven and top with basil before serving.