failure dough pizza
Thursday, 16 Feb 2017

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I hadn’t intended to make pizza at all.

Instead I’d intended to make a squash, potato and apple soup with pain de mie. I was going to bake the pain de mie from Breaking Breads but as a loaf, so I could make toasted cheese sandwiches to have with my soup. It was a glorious plan, except my dough didn’t rise.

Problems were immediately apparent. My dough felt a little dry. I added a little more water, kneaded a little with my hands, formed a little ball. I left it for an hour in its little clingfilm bowl. When I returned to check on it, it was still a little ball of dough.

It’s okay, I thought. Maybe it’s just cold. I left it alone for another half an hour. I readjusted the clingfilm and pulled it tighter around the bowl. Now you’ll get your anaerobic environment, yeast, I thought. Now you can live, and my dough will rise.

Another half an hour, then an hour. Nothing.

I wasn’t ready to give up on this yeast or this dough. It’s okay, I thought. Maybe it rose just a little. I shaped it in a little rectangle, placed it in a loaf tin and carefully covered it with a tea towel.

When I returned after two hours, it’d risen, maybe, just a tiny bit. Maybe my yeast was poorly, or dead. Maybe it was because I halved the recipe and sometimes that doesn’t work so well. Who really knows.

What do you do when your dough fails. You make failure dough pizza.

I’ve been making food processor pizza dough for years - often without rising it for the full 45 minutes, or at all. I figure if you aren’t a pizza purist, it doesn’t really matter. It pretty much bakes flat anyway. However much of a failure the dough is as bread, it’ll probably make a pretty good pizza.

The tomato sauce I made from two vine tomatoes in the fridge, tomato paste, garlic cloves, olive oil and a pinch of dried mixed herbs, blitzed in the food processor. My last minute toppings were assembled from Sainsburys: cooked tikka chicken breast, grated mozzarella, a tin of pineapples, chillies. If you shudder at the thought of prepared cling-wrapped chicken, ready-grated cheese and tinned fruit, know that you’re free to top your pizzas as you like (but know also that my pizza turned out tasty).

I did actually find while stretching the dough that it had risen a tiny tiny bit. Not pain-de-mie-worthy, no, but pleasantly poof noneteless. So my yeast wasn’t completely dead after all, I’d failed in some other way. Yeast, they’re kind of like sea monkeys, but unicellular. They both come dried and you ressurect them with water and nourishment. Pate fermentee is kind of like raising yeast sea monkeys in a tub in your fridge, except all the yeast is identical in a way all the sea monkeys aren’t (though all mine are called Psythor), so even if the original yeast-from-the-can die, tiny little copies of them remainm propagating through your dough, the yeast never truly dies but is immortal, and legion.

here I briefly pondered the nature of yeast while stretching the dough into a rough pan pizza form.

The milk powder made for a slightly sweet dough that went very well with my chosen toppings and my husband thought it made a very good pizza base, “like school pizza dough, like the stuff they make in schools, bready and doughy at the same time, it was great”.

I’ll try making the pain de mie again exactly as the book dictates and see if that works; but I might repeat this failed dough when I want a dairy-sweet childhood-memory pizza (without leaving it to rise for several hours of course).

Failure dough pizza

Ingredients

Serves 2

  • 1 ball failed dough
  • 2 regular sized vine tomatoes
  • 2 peeled garlic cloves
  • pinch dried herbs
  • tomato paste
  • grated mozzarella
  • olive oil
  • misc. toppings
Method

First try to make bread and fail. Now take that dough. Whatever bread it was meant to be, it's a pizza base now.

Heat the oven to 175 deg C. Place baking paper on a rimmed pan and stretch your dough as far as it can go. Do the best you can. I drizzled some olive oil over the top and this helps the edges crisp up and I feel it also helps stretch the dough more easily (though this might be purely psychological). Crimp up the edges a little to make a crust; here there are possibilities. I regret not making a stuffed cheese crust.

Bake the dough in the oven for about 10 minutes so you won't have a soggy bottom (see every season of GBBO for reference).

While that's happening, blitz the tomatoes, garlic, pinch of dried herbs, some tomato paste and about a teaspoon of olive oil in a food processor. The amount of tomato paste depends on how watery your tomatoes are, so I'd start with about a tablespoon and ramp it up to get a thicker texture.

Prepare the rest of your toppings if necessary.

After 10 minutes take your dough out of the oven. Turn the oven up to 210 deg C.

While you wait for the oven to get to the right temperature, assemble your pizza. Spread your tomato sauce, toppings and cheese.

Stick the pizza in the oven and bake for about 10-12 minutes.

Congratulations. Now your dough isn't a total failure.


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