Daring Bakers: Pizza with Caramelized Fennel, Radicchio, Pears, Spinach, Prosciutto di Parma, Roasted Tomato Sauce, Nuttela and Almonds

Daring Bakers Challenge October 2008

 Pizza Toppings (01) by MeetaK

~ In memory of Sherry “Sher” Cermak 1948-2008 ~

Just a few of the ingredients I used for this months Daring Bakers' challenge. On one pizza? No of course not. And what are the Daring Bakers doing making pizza, you must be thinking? What's daring about that?

Well this is what I love about the group. We get to try our hands at everything and this would not be a daring group if we were making any ole pizza!

This month it was Rosa of Rosa's Yummy Yums who was hosting the challenge. Initially she was going to co-host the challenge with Sher, but life takes sad unexpected turns. To honor her memory Rosa decided to carry through with Sher's chosen recipe for the October challenge.

The challenge was to make pizza dough using the recipe from The Bread Baker’s Apprentice by Peter Reinhart and using the tossing method! This was going to be fun. Otherwise we were free to use our imaginations. This was going to be a lot of fun.

I chose to make this quite early on in the month. Tom was away for the weekend and Soeren and I decided to tackle the challenge together. The tossing method with a 6 year old is a hilarious event. After the kitchen looked like we had just been snowed in with flour we decided to really get to work.

We are your typical family who love pizza - but are a bit picky. We have very specific likings to our pizzas and our notion of pizza is a perfect thin crusted one rather than the greasy deep pan pizza. Our pizzas have just a few toppings, going for a medley of full flavor rather than piling on the ingredients. We often make pizza at home and over the years we have found a few basics we stick to - basics like the dough, the spice oils and the tomato sauce.

So that is why I was quite keen on trying another type of pizza dough.

Pizza Dough (01) by MeetaK

Basic Pizza Dough

Original recipe taken from “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice” by Peter Reinhart.

Printable version of recipe here.

Makes 4-6 pizza crusts (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter).

4 1/2 Cups (20 1/4 ounces/607.5 g) Unbleached high-gluten (%14) bread flour or all purpose flour, chilled
1 3/4 Tsp Salt
1 teaspoon Instant yeast
1/4 Cup (2 ounces/60g) Olive oil or vegetable oil (both optional, but it’s better with)
1 3/4 Cups (14 ounces/420g or 420ml) Water, ice cold (40° F/4.5° C)
1 tablespoon sugar
Semolina/durum flour or cornmeal for dusting


Day one

Mix together the flour, salt and instant yeast in a big bowl (or in the bowl of your stand mixer).

Add the oil, sugar and cold water and mix well (with the help of a large wooden spoon or with the paddle attachment, on low speed) in order to form a sticky ball of dough. On a clean surface, knead for about 5-7 minutes, until the dough is smooth and the ingredients are homogeneously distributed. If it is too wet, add a little flour (not too much, though) and if it is too dry add 1 or 2 teaspoons extra water.

If you are using an electric mixer, switch to the dough hook and mix on medium speed for the same amount of time. The dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom of the bowl. If the dough is too wet, sprinkle in a little more flour, so that it clears the sides. If, on the contrary, it clears the bottom of the bowl, dribble in a teaspoon or two of cold water.

The finished dough should be springy, elastic, and sticky, not just tacky, and register 50°-55° F/10°-13° C.

Flour a work surface or counter. Line a jelly pan with baking paper/parchment. Lightly oil the paper.

With the help of a metal or plastic dough scraper, cut the dough into 4-66 equal pieces (or larger if you want to make larger pizzas).

To avoid the dough from sticking to the scraper, dip the scraper into water between cuts.

Sprinkle some flour over the dough. Make sure your hands are dry and then flour them. Gently round each piece into a ball.

If the dough sticks to your hands, then dip your hands into the flour again.

Transfer the dough balls to the lined jelly pan and mist them generously with spray oil. Slip the pan into plastic bag or enclose in plastic food wrap.

Put the pan into the refrigerator and let the dough rest overnight or for up to thee days.

NOTE: You can store the dough balls in a zippered freezer bag if you want to save some of the dough for any future baking. In that case, pour some oil (a few tablespoons only) in a medium bowl and dip each dough ball into the oil, so that it is completely covered in oil. Then put each ball into a separate bag. Store the bags in the freezer for no longer than 3 months. The day before you plan to make pizza, remember to transfer the dough balls from the freezer to the refrigerator.

Day Two

On the day you plan to eat pizza, exactly 2 hours before you make it, remove the desired number of dough balls from the refrigerator. Dust the counter with flour and spray lightly with oil. Place the dough balls on a floured surface and sprinkle them with flour. Dust your hands with flour and delicately press the dough into disks about 1/2 inch/1.3 cm thick and 5 inches/12.7 cm in diameter. Sprinkle with flour and mist with oil. Loosely cover the dough rounds with plastic wrap and then allow to rest for 2 hours.

At least 45 minutes before making the pizza, place a baking stone on the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven as hot as possible (500° F/260° C).

If you do not have a baking stone, then use the back of a jelly pan. Do not preheat the pan.

Generously sprinkle the back of a jelly pan with semolina/durum flour or cornmeal. Flour your hands (palms, backs and knuckles). Take 1 piece of dough by lifting it with a pastry scraper. Lay the dough across your fists in a very delicate way and carefully stretch it by bouncing it in a circular motion on your hands, and by giving it a little stretch with each bounce. Once the dough has expanded outward, move to a full toss.

Make only one pizza at a time.

During the tossing process, if the dough tends to stick to your hands, lay it down on the floured counter and re-flour your hands, then continue the tossing and shaping.

In case you would be having trouble tossing the dough or if the dough never wants to expand and always springs back, let it rest for approximately 5-20 minutes in order for the gluten to relax fully, then try again.

You can also resort to using a rolling pin, although it isn’t as effective as the toss method.

When the dough has the shape you want (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter - for a 6 ounces/180g piece of dough), place it on the back of the jelly pan, making sure there is enough semolina/durum flour or cornmeal to allow it to slide and not stick to the pan.

Lightly top it with sweet or savory toppings of your choice.

NOTE: Remember that the best pizzas are topped not too generously. No more than 3 or 4 toppings (including sauce and cheese) are sufficient.

Slide the garnished pizza onto the stone in the oven or bake directly on the jelly pan. Close the door and bake for about 5-8 minutes.

NOTE: After 2 minutes baking, take a peek. For an even baking, rotate 180°.

If the top gets done before the bottom, you will need to move the stone or jelly pane to a lower shelf before the next round. Should the bottom crisp before the cheese caramelizes, then you will need to raise the stone or jelly.

Take the pizza out of the oven and transfer it to a cutting board or your plate. In order to allow the cheese to set a little, wait 3-5 minutes before slicing or serving.


Pizza Spice Oils (01) by MeetaK 

Another basic for our pizza are spiced oils. These are used to pour into the pizza sauce or toss rucola, radicchio, chard or spinach to give these leafy toppings a lovely aroma. I normally infuse olive oil with herbs, like thyme, rosemary, oregano or marjoram. Garlic, ginger or chili flakes give the oil an extra body and a powerful flavor. Try using a delicate organic extra virgin olive oil because you will really taste the difference. For these pizza selections I infused the oil with 2 varieties: garlic and chili flakes for the sauce and dried thyme for the radicchio.

Infusing the oils is fairly easy and does not require an extra recipe. I normally buy small sealable glass bottles to store the oils in, because the longer the oils are infused the more time they have to enfold their aromas. However if you do not have time to infuse the oils for that long, even a 3-6 hour quick-infusion will be sufficient. Simply pour the amount of oil you require in small bowls and add your herbs and spices. Then just forget about it while you tackle the rest of your pizza.

Pizza Cheese (01)by MeetaK

Cheese is an important element in a pizza and something I like to experiment with. My organic store has an incredible cheese counter - a cheese for every occasion, or every pizza if you prefer. Fontina, Roquefort, Manchego, Goat cheese, Gruyere or even a dollop of quark are all some of my favorite types of cheese for pizza.

Some say a pizza is made or broken with the pizza sauce. I agree. If a pizza uses tomato sauce as a base for the toppings, I believe it should blend well with the rest of the flavors used in the pizza. It should not overpower and I prefer it chunky rather than puréed. I also prefer using a mix of cherry tomatoes and passata.  For this pizza I gently roasted the tomatoes for 45 minutes in the oven with some thyme spice olive oil and a few slivers of garlic. 

Once out of the oven the cherry tomatoes were thrown into the passata, garlic and all, and gently simmered.

The recipe below makes a fairly large batch of roasted tomato sauce. It’s also perfect for pasta sauces or as a base for stews, goulash our even soups. Stored in air-tight Weck jars the sauce keeps for 3-4 days in the refrigerator. You can also freeze the sauce in Ziploc bags for up to a month. This is a superb sauce so full of flavor and you’ll definitely want to make a big enough batch that goes around for a while.


 Pizza Sauce (01) by MeetaK

Roasted Tomato Sauce

Printable version of recipe here.

500g cherry tomatoes, cut in half
3-4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
500g tomato passata
1 tablespoon thyme spiced olive oil
2 tablespoon garlic-chili spiced olive oil
1 large red onion, coarsely chopped
Fresh or dried thyme
Salt and pepper


Preheat the oven to 150 degrees C. Line a baking tray with aluminum foil.

In a large bowl toss together the tomato halves, garlic slivers, thyme spiced oil and a pinch of salt. Spread out on the baking tray and bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes. Keep an eye on the tomatoes and if required reduce the heat if they start to get too brown.

In a large pot pour in the passata and the garlic spiced olive oil. Bring to a simmer, then add onions and roasted tomatoes, including garlic, into the mixture.

Simmer for 15-20 minutes until the onions softened and the sauce thickens. Sprinkle with thyme, salt and pepper to taste.


  • If you are planning on storing the tomato sauce in jars, pour in sterilized jars 
  • If you are planning to freeze the sauce in Ziploc bags, allow the sauce to cool completely before pouring it in the bags.


Caramelized Fennel, Radicchio, Pears and Goat Cheese Pizza  

Pizza Fennel Raddichio (01) by MeetaK

Finally it’s time for the toppings. For me pizza is like a canvas and I love painting it with a variety of aromatic ingredients. Each ingredient harmonizes perfectly with the other complementing each flavor combination.

For this challenge I made three pizzas, each very different from the other and each highlighting an entirely different flavor combination.

Which is your favorite flavor combination?


Printable version of recipe here.

2 fennel bulbs, sliced
1 teaspoon maple syrup
Small head of radicchio
2-3 small pears, thinly sliced
Soft goat cheese
Pecans, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon thyme spiced olive oil
150g herb quark,  simply chop up some fresh herbs of choice and mix into the quark.
Salt and pepper
1 portion basic pizza dough


Preheat oven to 200 degrees C.

In a large bowl toss the fennel with the thyme spiced oil. Heat a large skillet to medium-high and sauté the fennel slices. Add the maple syrup and mix. Once the fennel begins to soften, turn the heat down and sauté gently until the fennel caramelizes and releases its aromatic fragrance.

Make sure you stir frequently so that the fennel does not stick to the bottom of the pan. This normally takes 15 to 20 minutes.

Spread the prepared pizza base with the herb flavored quark, the caramelized fennel and pear slices. Break off a few edges of the goat cheese and lay out on the pizza. Finally sprinkle with the chopped pecans.

Bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes or until the base is crispy. Take out of oven sprinkle with salt and pepper then arrange the radicchio leaves over the top.

Allow to rest for 2-3 minutes, then slice.

Helpful reads:


Pizza Fennel Raddichio (02) by MeetaK

 Prosciutto di Parma, Spinach and Gruyere Pizza 

Pizza-Parma Spinach (02) by MeetaK

Printable version of recipe here.

5-6 slices prosciutto di Parma
Handful of fresh baby spinach
150g roasted tomato sauce
100g Gruyere cheese, grated
1 portion basic pizza dough
Salt and pepper


Preheat oven to 200 degrees C.

Generously spread the prepared pizza base with the roasted tomato sauce. Salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle the cheese and bake in the oven for approx. 8-10 minutes.

Take out and arrange the ham and spinach leaves on top of the pizza.

Allow to rest for 2-3 minutes, then slice.


Pizza-Parma Spinach (01) by MeetaK

 Nutella, Pears and Toasted Almonds Pizza

Pizza-Nutella (01) by MeetaK


Printable version of recipe here.

Several large tablespoons of Nutella
2 pears, thinly sliced
Handful almonds, sliced
Powdered sugar
1 portion basic pizza dough


Preheat oven to 200 degrees C. Line a baking tray with waxed paper.

Using a cookie cutter or a glass cut circular shapes out of the prepared pizza base. Place each mini-pizza on the baking tray.

Generously spread each mini-pizza with Nutella. Arrange the pear slices and sprinkle with the almond slivers.

Bake in the oven for approx. 8-10 minutes. Remove and sprinkle with powdered sugar.


“Nutella Pizza for dessert rocks!” was the all thumbs up verdict from Soeren. What surprised me the most was that he seemed to like the fennel radicchio combination a lot more than the expected Parma ham and spinach. I had made that pizza extra for him thinking he would not like the fennel-radicchio pizza that much. But to my surprise he wanted more than the one slice I had given him to taste. The Parma-spinach pizza combination is one of the regular types of pizzas we often make. Sometimes I will substitute the spinach with rucola and the prosciutto with bresaola.

Would I make this again?

This is very similar to the pizza dough I regularly make at home. The only difference my proofing/rising takes just an hour in a warm place. Tossing is not going to be something we will do often when making pizza though. Although we had a great laugh, the tossed dough was hardly usable, after it had flown two or three times through the kitchen and swept up the floor. We’ll be sticking to the trusty rolling pin.

What did I learn from this challenge?

That I can proof the dough in the fridge overnight for a more hassle free pizza. I know this might seem pretty normal to most of you, but we normally make pizzas on the spur of the moment. I will quickly buy a few ingredients for the topping on the way home from work and then make the dough allowing it to proof for 45-60 minutes. It never occurred to me that if I planned ahead I could actually allow the base to proof in the fridge. Duh!

I’d like to thank Rosa for this fun challenge. If you need more inspiration for pizza toppings please browse through the several great creations from the other Daring Bakers.

Have fun!


All photographs and written content on What's For Lunch, Honey? © 2006-2008 Meeta Khurana unless otherwise indicated. | All rights reserved | Please Ask First

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  1. Whoa! That is a whole lotta pizza! Everything looks delish, you have done a lot of work... Hats off!

  2. wow delicious pizza . and the sweet pizza must have been to die for. Nutella is my weak point. :)

  3. Ah, um . . . I'll need two slices of each of those to try before I can make an intelligent comment.
    And you and Soeren ate all those pizzas!
    I'd love to have seen the tossing, what little boy wouldn't want permission to throw food around ;0)

  4. Wow - the fennel/radicchio combination sounds to die for! But I have to agree with Tanna, I think I need some samples :)

  5. Nutella pizza?! You naughty girl, that looks amazing! The dough also looked fabulous from your photos, but I too make pizza on the fly most often throwing the dough ingredients into my bread machine a few hours before I want to make the pizza. I may try this for a change of pace though. I do have two little ones who would LOVE to toss pizza dough!

  6. You are an extremely creative person! All your pizzas look fantastic and so do your photos! Very well done, wow!



  7. That roasted tomato sauce looks so rosy and delicious! And I love all these DB stories about tossing the dough. Good try!

  8. Do you deliver? I'd like that Nutella, Pears and Toasted Almonds Pizza, pleeeease! :)

  9. I am so impressed with these Meeta. Especially the nutella one...a great challenge!

  10. I am so impressed with these Meeta. Especially the nutella one...a great challenge!

  11. I've learnt a lot from this post! And I'm gonna trying infusing my Olive Oil with some herbs soon. I love how neat your pizza turned out. So tempting!

  12. Fabulous choices of toppings from the savories to the sweet! Perfect!

  13. I think the fennel, pear and goat cheese pizza would be my choice -- though I'd be happy with any of these gorgeous variations!

  14. Okay. That's it. I'm moving in with you. I have to live with people that are capable of such beautiful pizzas. I should be there by Monday.

  15. Meeta, It's always fun to read your posts and this one is extra special because it has so many great ideas and recipes, not just pizza dough. You've inspired me to try a dessert pizza!

  16. I've been walking around and now is fully covered with assorted pizzaz. Lovely of yours, Meeta. And I'd love to have the nutella ones, pls :D

  17. Love all the different pizza's you made, with the Gruyere spinach one being my favourite. Yum!

  18. Wow! Such unique toppings! I am going to try the infused oils next time...I'll make then now and use the next time I make pizza.

  19. Wow Meeta, I've seen pizzas and I've seen pizzas, but you are a food artist.. or pizza artist I should say!
    Regards Angela

  20. I love you pizza ideas, will try the sauce soon.

  21. Those pizzas look great! I can't decide if I would rather have the fennel and radicchio one or the nutella and almond... so maybe I should try both!

  22. Nothing like a daring bakers challenge to make me feel a little inadequate!! Your pizzas look sooooo good. I love the summery photos.

  23. Thanks everyone for your comments. It's great to hear which one of these pizzas you are liking. I had guessed right with some of you!

    Anudivya - thanks! It did not feel like a lot of work making the pizza. Typing up the post was more work LOL!

    Snooky Doodle - yours and Soeren's LOL!

    Tanna - yes we ate most of it!! The rest we had the next day. YOu are a clever one. So when can I make some of these for you?

    Caitlin - I liked that combination best too! But you are welcome to try all of them!

    Joie - naughty yes! Tossing with the kids a big YES! I can recommend that to anyone with kids. They'll be squealing with laughter!

    Rosa - thank you for the challenge. It was a lot of fun and one the best challenges to date!

    Caviar & Codfish - oh that tossing really did make us laugh. But is created a bit of mess too. The sauce is a real keeper. I love using it in several types of dishes that call for a tomato based sauce.

    Shari - would that be a family or a single size!

    Peter G - I knew you were a sweet one at heart LOL!

    Mrs. Ergül - infused oils are pretty awesome and doing it yourself at home with quality ingredients guarantees a fantastic flavor. Thanks!

    Ben, Helen - thanks a bunch!

    Lydia - I'd make you that pizza if you ever came to visit. ;-) Hugs!

    Ivonne - so the guest room is ready and the pizza dough is in the fridge. What time are you moving in? Pizza is your weakness? I would have thought it was a creampuff. Had I known I'd have made pizza a long time ago!

    Elle - sweet pizzas are some of our favorite. one we really enjoy is a simple cream cheese, honey and pecans. So creamy and delish. Glad you liked the post!

    Arfi - thanks so much sweetie. Glad you liked these!

    Linda - thanks. A lot of my friends like that combo too. It'S hearty and they say really satisfying!

    Anita - if I had any trust in the Indian postal system I would send you a bottle, but after the risotto rice and the chocolate face mask never made it, i'll just make a list and bring it all to you in person! Hugs!

    Angela, Medhaa - thanks ladies! hope you like them!

    Chocolate Shavings - go ahead and try both. I am sure you will like them. Let me know!

    Mallika - pizza is pizza and we all make pizza LOL! I sound like the godfather LOL! noway anyone can feel inadequate making pizza!

  24. Wonderful pizzas! Next time I will have to try a Nutella pizza.

    Great photos!

  25. Wonderful pizzas Meeta! I love that you made the mini ones, I totally forgot to make a sweet one :)

  26. Love the fennel goat cheese combination! I love to use infused oils, it really makes a difference!

  27. Wowww. I was going to say how much I like goat cheese and pears together, but then each pizza just kept getting better and better. I want them all!!


  28. I've tried a nutella pizza before and it was wonderful. Everything looks so delicious. Thanks for all the topping ideas.

  29. I love the nutella pizza! I stopped getting nutella at home thinking i will add on more calories....but after seeing this i think i want to try one immediately!:-)

  30. Gorgeous pizzas!! They all look spectacular!

  31. Yeah! I never knew that I could proof the pizza in the fridge too! I think this is so convinient..Love this recipe :)

    Your topping look great :)

  32. You are such a culinary genius. I wouldn't put it past you to be able to combine all those ingredients and somehow still manage to make it taste great (lol)

    I love the fennel, pear and goat cheese pizza idea. It's going on my must try list for my family's pizza night. Thank you!

  33. Wow you really worked HARD on these pizzas and this post! Yours are so gourmet! Excellent job, I love the prosciutto one, I used that as well...

  34. A lovely mix of toppings. I love sound of the caramelized fennel radicchio, pear and goat cheese one. You did a great job making the pizzas.

  35. Oh wow! This is such a fantastic post. I would love to try out the fennel and radicchio combination ... looks so delicious. And I so love the idea of roasted tomato sauce ... sounds lovely!

    Simply awesome, Meeta!

  36. this looks so good, however i'm anything but a daring baker... very, very tempted to try, but also very scared that i'll make a regal mess of things.

  37. Delicious! I love the toppings you've used! :)

  38. Nice pizzas - love how you played with different shapes and sizes!

  39. Your mini dessert pizzas look so yummy! Your pizzas are beautiful!

  40. All the pizzas you made are delicious!!! And Nutella specifically is my weakness ;) Great job on this challenge!

  41. Im drooling Meeta such a variety of pizza's

  42. You have a fantastic collection of pizza photos! I like the idea of cutting mini pizzas for the dessert topping.

  43. Pizza Looks yummy..Never tried my hands at making them at home :)

  44. Wow! Your pizza's are just fantastic! I love the sweet take on it too - Nutella is my fave. I had to miss this months challenge. Just too busy. See? Its not just the DT that I had to forsake... LOL!! Ship me over some slices? Two each thanks very much!!

  45. Pizza and tomato sauce look so delicious. im craving for the pizza now.

  46. You've got just about everything on there eh? Sounds good.

  47. Oh...the nutella-almond one steals my heart!! That's my ultimate comfort food!! I just wish that I had made more than one variety of pizza, but time was running short on me. Goat's cheese and pears make a darn good combination too, I'd say!

  48. You've had a party with the challenge Meeta...spectacular, Each one of them! It's been a treat reading your post & the pictures are beautiful!

  49. Wow, every one of those pizzas looks like a work of art!

  50. That's a lot of pizza in one post, Meeta. I loved the sweet one.
    My 12 year old daughter and I had a lot of fun too tossing the dough.

  51. thanks everyone! i am really excited that you are liking these creations! i knew many would weaken for the nutella one lol!

  52. What a mouthwatering display. Even "just" the sauce has me captivated. Stunning pictures as usual.

    Wondering how you fit all of this in with just just 24 hours in a day (or did they change that in Germany ;-) )

  53. Oh my oh my! All of them are right up my alley! Wonderful Meeta!

  54. The caramelized fennel and radicchio pizza sounds so amazing! I did a Nutella pizza as well, but didn't think to add fruit to the mix - very creative!

  55. Wow, Meeta, I love those little Nutella pizzas!! :) Beautiful photos as well :)


  56. Great looking pizzas. I really like that nutella dessert one.

  57. I want some of each of them! They all look so great!

  58. Those look like great pizzas and I'm envious that your son will eat them!

  59. Your pizzas look absolutely gorgeous, delciious and so pretty too! I so enjoyed this challenge, although I wish I had used radicchio on one of my pizzas now!

  60. Your post finally got me to become a pizza maker! (It was my first time baking with yeast!) The prosciutto-spinach pizza is absolutely delicious, and the roasted tomato sauce with spiced oils is so good, I could eat it by itself. Thank you SO much for the inspiration!

  61. I love the nutella, pear and almond combo. Will have to give this a try in a tart kind of dessert.


Thank you for visiting What's For Lunch, Honey? and taking time to browse through my recipes, listen to my ramblings and enjoy my photographs. I appreciate all your comments, feedback and input. I will answer your questions to my best knowledge and respond to your comments as soon as possible.

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