now and later… pizza

IMG_7407I have been thinking more and more about our food budget and how to accurately share how I do it.  When making some pizza dough today I thought about this post.  I often make things for supper tonight, and freeze some for a later date.  Easy access if you will.  Pizza dough is one of these.  After some trial and error, I have come up with a recipe I believe to be perfection.  I have posted once before about pizza dough, but that one was merely a beginners trial.  This is the real thing I assure you.

This makes 2 large pizzas.  I double this for my now and laters….  But depending on the size of your crew this may work.

2 cups whole wheat flour (try to get something that uses the whole plant… not an easy task but doable!)

2.5 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon yeast

1 3/4 cup of warm water

2 tablespoons oil

1/3 cup of coarse ground cornmeal.  Believe it.  I use coarse ground yellow grits sometimes and it is superb.

2 cloves of crushed garlic

Mix all the ingredients together and knead for about seven minutes.  The fresh garlic gives the dough a very sticky texture so keep things lightly floured, including your hands!  Split in half and freeze one of the slices in an air tight bag or jar.  Turn the other half into an oiled bowl and let double in size.  If you desire mini pizzas, cut in half and form two smaller balls.  Let them rest a few minutes and start to stretch them out.  Put them on the back of a cookie sheet that has been sprinkled with cornmeal or if you have one, a pizza peel.  Place your toppings like a so and slide into a preheated oven of 425 onto your baking stone.  If you have no baking stone, just use your cookie sheet (right side up of course).  Bake until crispy done and wallah.

Some of my favorite toppings perhaps you have not thought of.

fried potato rounds and goat cheese with chives

kimchi!  WOah.  who would have guessed.  It’s salty crunch is just what pizza loves.

eggplant and peppers

my new favorite – daikon pesto… delicious i assure you.  pesto- the most versatile thing in the world.

#52 Artos (A Greek Celebration Bread) resolution complete.

52 weeks ago I made a resolution about bread.  A simple task.  One new variety per week, made by my own two hands.  The task was not all together daunting, but mostly exciting.  I envisioned myself an expert by the time December rolled around.  My kitchen would be brimming with tools that could equip the finest of bakeries.  Never again would the cellophane wrapped store-bought loaf have to enter my bread box.

While it is rare to have to pick up a soft and squishy loaf (as my boys have deemed them), it does happen.  I am not by any stretch of the imagination an expert.  I believe myself to be only at the beginning.  I have picked up a baking stone, a paint scraper (the perfect tool for dough) and a sturdy piece of linen over the past year, but that is all that I can claim for tools on my bread baking expeditions.

More than a resolution, I have found love.  I have found comfort in the rhythm of baking.  I have lived by the rising and falling of bubbly dough.  Cookbooks have become my bibles.  Tasting, tearing, dipping, and smearing… these actions spell out my days.  Bread has given me something to focus on.  To count on.

The unpredictability of a new move, knowing not a soul for miles and miles, the solitude of a home nestled in the swamp lands of an isolated area, the chaos and sometimes exasperation of mothering two small boys; these things can add up to a lonesome life.  I promise you.

But somehow this whole bread thing sparked something inside me.

Somehow.

A resolution can bring on hope.  It doesn’t have to tell you no.  It doesn’t have to dictate your every mouthful, or every word.  All I did was keep at it, and I found myself a new woman.  This may sound humourous, it does to me!  Bread cannot change a person.  But it did.

It connected me to the past.  Women and men through out all of history made these very loaves.  They cultured yeasts and experimented with temperatures.  They shared meals, and delivered loaves to neighbors.

It gave me satisfaction that I was doing something that very well could affect my family for good.  Never again will sunbeam feel like the epitome of perfection in the world of bread to that giant of a man who I share a name with.  Yes, he may still prefer this for a bologna sandwich here and there, but I know in my heart of hearts the crusty exterior, the chewy interior and oh the fresh-baked smell that fills our house has won him over.

My boys.  My boys expect the best.  My youngest first word, shortly after the obligatory mama and dada was of course, “bread”.  I watch them in their tiny kitchen kneading smooshing, sharing, and enjoying that very thing their mama spends time on.  Bread.

It is contagious.  It is habitual.  It is the bread of life.  My bread of life.

I don’t know what the future holds for this years resolution for me, but do yourself a favor; make one this year.  And make it good.  Point your life in a direction of joy.  Fall in love.  Make it tangible.

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Artos (A Celebration Bread)

1 cup barm (a starter)

3.5 cups bread flour

1 tsp salt

1.5 tsp. yeast

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp allspice

1/4 tsp cloves

1 tsp minced orange and lemon zest

1 tsp almond extract

2 eggs

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup olive oil

3/4 cup of whole milk

Stir together dry ingredients.  Mix in the wet.  Knead for ten long minutes until it passes the window pane test.  (You will be able to stretch a piece until you can see through it but it does not tear)  Place in an oiled bowl to proof until doubled.

Split into one large chunk and form a boule (a very tight ball) and let rise until doubled.  The smaller piece should be placed in the refrigerator wrapped in plastic.  Preheat the oven to 350.

Roll out your small piece forming the shapes in the pictures below.  Place in the oven onto your stone or a sheet tray will do fine.  When it registers 190 or if your brave, it sounds hollow it is done.  About 40 minutes.

As soon as it comes out glaze with a heated up mixture of 2 tbsp of the following, honey sugar and water, and 1 tsp of orange extract.  Sprinkle on sesame seeds if desired.

celebrate.

#39 On the Rye

 

After many years of my sweet brother encouraging me to open shop and call it “on the rye” (My nick name has always been ri).  I can say… well… I can say I made rye bread!  Hey, it is a start.  This recipe was so wacky and absurd I must say it was adapted to the point that it hardly resembles the original.  So, this is what I did:

Dissolve 1 tsp. of sugar, 1 tablespoon of yeast and 1/4 cup of warm water in a big bowl.  Add 3 cups of coarse ground rye flour, 2 cups of white flour, 2 cups of water, 6 tablespoons of molasses, 1 cup of brown sugar and a pinch of salt.  mix into a gooey mess, cover with a towel and let it sit for an hour.

After this first hour-long rise, add enough white flour (or wheat if you choose) until it becomes a texture you can knead.  I ended up adding at least 4 cups of flour at this point.  Knead it for a good ten minutes.  It is a sticky dough I assure you.

At this point you can shape the loaves into whatever type of pan you please.  It makes a LOT of bread.  I chose to use 6 mini bunt pans, 1 regular bread loaf, and one deep 9 inch pie pan.  Yes, this was quite glorious.  Make sure you butter the pans up really well.  Cover them up with a towel and let rise until they peek over the rims of your pans.

Pop in a 375 degree oven for about 30 minutes.  Less time is needed for the little bagel like loaves, more for the larger ones.  If you feel like it just stick a thermometer inside and make sure it registers 190.  This is a done temp for bread.  As soon as you get them out of the oven take them out of the pan (carefully!  don’t burn yourself!) and place on a cooling rack.  Brush them with a mixture of molasses and water.  This will give them a lovely sweetness and a beautiful glaze when they dry.

Yum..  On the Rye.

Bread #37 old fashioned white bread

When my brother was young he returned from a trip to my aunt’s house with a new found love.  He climbed up to the kitchen counter and began in all sincerity, “Mom.  At Aunt Betty’s, I had this awesome thing.  It’s called white bread?  You ever heard of it?”.  Oh, how my dear mama laughed.  While it is true, around my household we did mostly indulge in the hearty bread chock full of seeds and nuts and the like, by no means did this hinder my love for the gloriously spongy white bread.

This loaf has a tang to it.  It tastes close to a sourdough somehow, perhaps my overheated kitchen has something to do with it?  But ah, the floury top and the bubbly interior will have you slathering on the butter and jam meal after meal.

Or perhaps you will spread on some maple almond butter from this amazing birthdaybook I received (early).

Big Beautiful White Pan Loaves adapted from Amy’s Bread’s

1. Combine 1 3/4 tsp. active dry yeas in 1/4 cup of very warm water.  Dissolve and let stand for three minutes.

2. Mix 4.5 cups of flour with 2.5 tsp. sea salt.  Mix in yeast and 1.5 cups of cool water.  Knead for 5 minutes.

3. Let it rest for 20 minutes covered with a towel.

4. Knead for 7 or 8 minutes and place in a bowl dusted with flour.

5. Let it double in volume.

6. Deflate dough and press into a rectangle.  Fold it into thirds, spin it 1/4 and fold it into thirds again making sure the top is lightly coated in a layer of flour.  Place in a buttered bread pan  and let rise until about an inch over the top of the pan.

7. Bake in a 425 degree oven, spraying the loaf a half-dozen times when your first place it in and three minutes into the baking as well.  After 10 minutes, lower the temperature to 400 degrees and bake for 30 minutes.

8. The last five minutes of baking take the loaf out of its pan and place directly on the racks to crispen up the underside and edges.  Give her a knock to make sure she thumps like a hollow loaf and you’re done.

9. Wait until it’s nearly cooled. Slice, slather and enjoy.

Bread #36 English Muffins

“The best part of waking up…”, my mantra after another not so blissful nights sleep.  While YES, it is without a doubt the coffee that gets me up and going that I love and cherish so very much, but this morning, a little nook and little cranny had me wiggling my toes with excitement as I pulled back my sleepy warm covers to attend to a little one waking far too early for the bedtime he chose the previous evening.

That’s right.  You heard it.  English Muffins.  Oh me, oh my.  These little balls of dough happened to be the pertiest of doughs I had made in say…. at least six weeks!  Oh how I love me a satiny-soft white dough.  They are surely some of the most glorious substances on this planet.

Making the english muffin isn’t as difficult as old Mr. Thomas would have you believe.  And here is a secret:  you can do it better than him too.  I promise.

Start off with your fancy sifter and load it up with 2.25 cups of unbleached bread flour, 1/2 tablespoon of sugar, 3/4 tsp of salt and 1 1/4 tsp of instant yeast.  In another bowl mix up one tablespoon of butter and 3/4 cup of milk.  Oh, this looks weird!  The butter is all waterproof but soggy at the same time.  I don’t understand it either.  Start mixing the two together until you have a ball of dough.  If you need to you can add up to 1.4 cup more of milk.

Now on a floured surface beat it up good and proper.  Knock it around a bit.  

This should take a while if you are not practiced at it.  It needs to pass the window pane test.

Pop her in an oiled bowl, turn it once and let it rise for about 90 minutes or so.

Wipe the counter down and slice into 6 equal pieces.  Form each into a little ball.  Then, taking one piece at a time, pull back the dough over and over on the top until it forms a very tight ball.  Tuck the bottoms under nice and neat and place on a sheet tray lined with parchment.

Spray them all with olive oil or water and sprinkle with cornmeal.  Cover with a towel and let rise for another 90 minutes.

Heat up a big old skillet with a brush of olive oil (which surprisingly enough fixes squeaky doors! Who knew?) to a medium temperature and cook them biscuits on each side for about 5 minutes.  While you are sizzling the first batch, cover the remaining ones back up so they don’t get all hard.  Place all the golden brown muffins in a 350 degree oven for 8 minutes.  Let them rest for a good thirty minutes before you dive in.  This is a must, for they are still finishing their cook time.

Oh yes, the simple things in life are what keep this here mama going.  A warm, soft, buttered, english muffin on a crispy eye monday morning is just the thing to keep me grinning for many hours to come.  And of course a slightly bottomless mug of joe.  That doesn’t hurt either.

OOh yes, and these taste divine with a spread of marscapone.  Like most things tend to do.

Hope the start of your week is a little bit tasty too.