Recipe 15. Pizza durum dough

I can’t believe I am blogging about this recipe so late. It’s been a month since my last post and I’m pretty sure I used the last dough I froze from this particular baking adventure maybe three weeks ago, but a promise to myself was to see this blog through. I will post but I don’t promise timeliness.

This pizza dough was great. Chewy where you want AND extra crispy where you also want – like a cracker depending how thinly you roll it. It’s a dough that doesn’t overwhelm the pizza but is sturdy enough for heavy toppings. I ended up making about five pizza dough balls. Each dough ball produced more of a personal pizza size at 10 inches. I kept two and froze the other three.

I won’t go too crazy with the review. The recipe was spot on. I was pleased with how easy the dough came together. I’d definitely make it again. I do have one recommendation if you’re going to make pizza on the regular. Get a pizza peel which is really a huge spatula to put a pizza into and out of the oven and can serve double duty as a cheese/charcuterie board. (I love those things with fancy red wine). I struggled without one because once I got the dough ready with toppings, I couldn’t get it off the counter or cookie sheet. By the fifth pizza, and with the bamboo pizza peel I bought off of Amazon, I got a rounder, more uniform look and bake. It was a pretty good feeling.

Here are some pics I took along the way.

Pizza dough balls wrapped for freezer
First pizza with stuff I found in the fridge
This one had some spinach in there.
Not too bad. Looks round-ish. “Half” cheese

Overall success! If you want the recipe or to try something similar, let me know. (Note to self: I must make another round and freeze them!)

Recipe 14. Pita

So this should be the Lavash recipe, but I decided to skip it. I am totally unfamiliar with it, it required overnight work, I still hadn’t gotten over my failed naan bread, and… it’s my blog and I’ll skip if I want to. I decided I can go back at any time. I’m taking a pass, kinda like in that one game show from years and years ago where if you couldn’t figure a word that would make the other person guess the clue, then you could say “pass.” I’m blanking on the name of that show. Match Game? Anyway, yeah…I’m taking a pass.

Pita seemed challenging. I wasn’t sure how it would turn out, but I went into it with an open mind. The recipe was fairly straightforward – 50/50 bread flour and whole wheat flour, oil, yeast, salt, sugar, water. Simple enough. The dough was a bit heavy though and a funny thing happened to my KitchenAid.

Wasn’t that awesome? That derailed me a bit. I wasn’t expecting the mixer to struggle let alone smoke. I called them later to talk about it. I hadn’t registered it, but seeing as how I’d purchased it in October 2018 and it was only December 2018, I was concerned. I still had some of the materials (not the registration card, of course…no idea where it is) and it clearly said if there was something wrong with it within the first year that they would replace it. After finally figuring out how to talk to a person — because their automated system insisted I type in a phone number on the registration and I hadn’t registered it – I finally got to a person. Felt like I was on hold for what seemed like forever. He suggested I let the machine cool off and then trying it again to see if it still smoked. He said that sometimes you can overheat them if you have them on too long. I had it on four minutes on the lowest setting (Stir) and an additional four minutes on the next setting (2). The documentation on the mixer indicates that you should never knead above a 2. So eight minutes is too much on a professional mixer with a bad ass motor? Okay then. I let it cool off and tried it out and it works just fine.  What a relief. I think going forward I will probably just make sure it doesn’t get too hot and maybe not go above the stir speed for dough.

Back to the pita. Everything went according to how the recipe said it would. It doubled great. I weighed and preshaped the rolls. I let them rise again and then rolled them out. This time, I decided to try and make a video using my iPhone because I don’t have a video camera. Maybe I’ll get one. And some white lights because my kitchen lights are too yellow and everything looks more yellow than it is. This is the second video. In the first video, I did not like the way I looked without makeup so while the bread was resting before rolling, I legit went and put on makeup and did something with my hair. I still am not pleased with how I look on camera, but you know what? That’s me and what you see is what you get. Not that first video though. Nope.

Here’s what the final pitas looked like. I was quite pleased with them!  I even calculated correctly to make one dozen. I finished them up and made a quick turkey salad (I had just roasted a turkey the day before) and brought that along with the pita for a catch up night with a friend. We met at one of those brew pubs where they sell their beer and then you can bring in your own food, play games, chill. Those pita sandwiches were so good. I will definitely be making them again.

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Recipe 13. Naan

Hello anyone still reading my blog. Thanks for hanging in. Happy New Year! It’s been a flurry of activity over the holidays and while I was busy with shopping, decorating, traveling, celebrating, and all that good stuff, I was a bit lazy in keeping up with my blog. I managed to bake, but not much from the book I’m following that is the inspiration for this blog. I’ve managed to make naan, which I will talk about here, pita, and pizza dough which I will post about  shortly. I ended up skipping the lavash recipe; I decided I can always come back to it another time. It’s not like I’ll be penalized for going out of order. Besides, it’s my blog and I can do what I want.

I had high hopes for the naan bread. It is so delicious. I just love going to this fast food Indian restaurant near my work and getting some chicken tikka masala with fresh naan. I tell them to give me double bread and skip the rice. I don’t have time for the rice. I want to dip my bread in that delicious sauce. I was thinking how awesome it would be to be able to make it at home whenever I want. I especially love it with onion. Just yum. But things did not turn out as I had planned.

First, the recipe called for baking the bread in the oven. I didn’t think traditional naan was made in the oven, but I have committed to following the recipes in this Culinary Institute text book and so I just did what the recipe said to do. The dough came together quite wonderfully. It proofed beautifully. I mean, perfect rise. (I absolutely love the newly discovered Standard Proofing option my oven offers. The bread goes in, I set the time, and it comes out perfectly doubled.) I created the rounds (preshape) that would then be rolled out to make the bread. Here’s how that looked:

risen dough rounds
Naan rounds after rise and before rolling out

Then comes the rolling out and baking. I did precisely what it said and baked. I had high hopes but in the end was disappointed with how they turned out. Not how they tasted because the bread tasted good – it wasn’t naan like my fave fast food Indian place – but how they looked. To me, this was more pita than naan though soft bread. I added onion to some of the dough and it was good. I think maybe next time I would pan fry them using a cast iron skillet because I think that’s how you’d get the browned crispy bits on the bread. Traditionally, naan is made in a tandoori oven (clay oven).

So there you go. Not every recipe is a winner. I did like the flavor though so maybe if I were to make it again, I would just play with it to make it what I want. I did enjoy the onion flavor so maybe next time I’ll roll them more like tortillas and add more stuff to it. Or roll it out and use it as a pizza dough. If I do, I’ll write up a post about the experience.

 

 

Must write more but in the meantime…

I’ve been really bad about blogging my baking adventures. I’ve made naan bread (not so great), a gingerbread house, cookies for Santa, pita bread, and today’s creation, a chocolate cake for my husband’s birthday. I will write more about each project soon, but in the interest of getting out a post, I’m doing a quickie collage.

Happy New Year!

Recipe 12. Cheddar and Onion Rye Rolls

‘Tis the season to do a lot of baking.  I wish I could be baking more, but things like family, and holiday cards, and oh yeah WORK get in the way. Life really. Still, I have been doing my fair share of baking. I made gingerbread cookies and then I made a gingerbread house (had never done that before) and extra cookies because there was that much leftover dough. The gingerbread house deserves its own bonus blog post so I will do that at some point. I just ordered some new cookie cutters and a fancy tool so I can practice fancy decorations. Some people paint. Maybe I will paint – on cookies!

I was all about these rolls. Savory rolls! Cheese and onions? What could go wrong? Thankfully, nothing much. Sorry to disappoint. Other than taking too much time to calculate my quantities – I even dragged my husband into it – the recipe was fairly straightforward. I really wanted to make sure I made just enough rolls and not a ton like I did with the sesame seed rolls. There was bread flour and rye flour and instant yeast in one bowl. Mix. Then the wet ingredients go in the mixer (including molasses and vegetable oil though I used canola oil) to which you add the dry and let the mixer do its thing. I did throw in the cheese and onions too soon. I was supposed to mix on low for four minutes and then one tick up on the speed for four minutes more before adding the cheese and onions and then mix for two more minutes, but I did it one step earlier. Oops. I don’t think this messed anything up too much. I just added a little bit more time to compensate. Here’s a quick video of me walking you through the addition of the cheese and onions.

After the mixing in of the deliciousness, I let the dough rest and rise before I started the preshape (a round), and then the final shaping and proofing before the rolls hit the oven to steam for a few seconds and then bake. I swear, it sounds complicated, but it really wasn’t. My neighbor told me that people always say that something is easy and not complicated, but that just because it’s not complicated to me doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be to her. I think really though if someone showed you how easy it was you might consider doing it. At least entertain the idea. But then, I realize the real issue is time and more importantly desire. If you WANTED to make these rolls and were willing to be patient and take the time to make them, then it isn’t really all that complicated; HOWEVER, if measuring and weighing and doing the prep work and shaping and reshaping and sitting around waiting for everything to poof up, then well, yeah I suppose it is complicated. I find lots of things complicated – like changing the light bulb under the vented microwave though I’m sure it’s easy. Thankfully I can ask my husband to do it and he will eventually get to it. And he’ll do it in like three seconds and I will feel dumb and inadequate. Maybe I do get it now.  (Honey, can you replace the bulb? Please and thank you.)

Anyway – here’s the obligatory shaping and final look see at how these rolls turned out. And I got to use my special razor lame tool. I wish you could have smelled them – they smelled so delicious even my daughter asked me what that yummy smell was. She does love her cheese but she is not a fan of onions so she refused to try it. I took some of the rolls to dance class so the regulars could have a taste and then the rest we took to a cocktail party afterwards where they were enjoyed by all. I’m not kidding. I got a lot of compliments on this one. Speaking of compliments, one of my favorite ones is always “YOU MADE those?!” Yes, I did. I get such a honey glow in my cheeks when I get those compliments. (Fix it Felix from Wreck-it-Ralph is my cartoon boyfriend.)

Take a look at the inside, Perfect! 🙂

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Next bread blog post is Naan bread. I’m looking forward to it mostly because I love naan bread AND it looks to be more of a quick turnaround time. Faster into my tummy. I should probably make a butter chicken or something to go with it. Doesn’t that sound good? Until next time. Toodles.

 

 

 

 

Recipe 11. Whole Wheat Pullman Loaves

Pullman loaf pan

This recipe is similar to the other loaf recipes I’d done before. Nothing new here so I wasn’t ultra thrilled about it. Sure I was looking forward to yummy bread and using the Pullman pan again, but there wasn’t a new technique to master or new flour to work with. While I was gathering all the ingredients, I noticed something and could hardly believe my eyes. My oven has a Proofing option. It was there ALL ALONG! Kaboom. Mind blown. I’d seen the bakers on The Great British Baking Show use the proofing drawer, but I had no idea I had one. I decided to use it since it was a cold day. It was simple. Press the option then press Start. It reads “standard proofing” on the display. It barely generates any heat at all but it’s there. I worked through my weighing and measuring, being sure to allow for more dough this time since previous tries were not filling the pan, and then I mixed it all up. Love that stand mixer! I put the dough in the oiled bowl and then loaded her up in the warm oven. I couldn’t believe how much of a rise I got out of it! It was huge. Here it is after I pulled it out of the bowl. I’ve also included a video of me shaping the dough into an oblong. Once it is shaped, it rests for about 20 minutes before it gets loaded into the oiled Pullman loaf pan.

Bread dough after initial rise
Look at how puffy the dough got after the first rise.

I didn’t get a picture of the dough in the Pullman pan, but I actually made too much dough. I was trying to make sure I had a full loaf of bread this time, but it was obvious when I first attempted to fill the pan that there was just too much. The recipe said to ensure that the dough had space for the final rise, but it was already almost two thirds full. So, I just eyeballed a chunk and removed it from the total. I made a large knot with that and was pleased with what was there. After the final rise – such lovely dough – I plopped on the lid and put the pan in the oven. It took about 35-40 minutes to bake (if my memory is working since I made it almost two weeks ago). When I went to check on it, I couldn’t get the lid to budge. Oops! I guess it was full. Luckily I was able to jimmy it out and wow was it just perfect. I must have stared at it for five minutes. Here’s what it looked like.

The whole wheat flour to bread flour ratio was just perfect. Not too earthy, soft, and the perfect chew. I cut off a chunk and sent it with my hubby to bring to our kid’s dance class. They loved it. I cut off a chunk and brought it to a friend’s house (mama had a night out) and she was mad I didn’t bring her an entire loaf. She enjoyed it though. The next day, I made my daughter her first PB&J with the bread and she LOVED it. This is a child who steers clear of bread ordinarily but is starting to like it. I love that I made it for her. Hands down the recipe was a keeper and I wouldn’t change a thing…well, maybe I’d adjust my measurements a little.

Loaf of bread with cut out slice
Look at that texture (and extra but from being full in the pan)

Recipe 10. Sunflower Seed Rolls

I was super excited about this recipe. I mean sunflower seeds in yummy roll format, but things weren’t exactly as I’d hoped. I mean, they were tasty and all, just different than what I was expecting.

The recipe called for wheat bran. I had such trouble finding what I needed online so I ventured to the neighborhood Sprouts to see if they had it. Surely they had to have it. They did but it took some work. I couldn’t find it in the aisles or bins. Finally I asked someone and by that point I couldn’t remember if I needed wheat germ or wheat bran. Turns out they had both but the wheat germ was in back. The very helpful young man went to the storeroom and carried out this ginormous bin full of wheat bran. I scooped what I needed and he said it was on the house. Totally unexpected. Completely grateful. That made my day.

The recipe instructed me to soak the wheat bran in milk overnight. I suppose that was to fluff up the bran. Oh. Before I continue I should probably discuss the difference between wheat germ and wheat bran because they are not the same thing. Think of it this way. Wheat is a seed. There’s an outer part and inner part of the seed. The outer part of the seed or kernel is the bran and the inner part is the germ. The outer part is harder so I’m guessing it has more fiber. Don’t quote me on that. If you really want to learn more, type “wheat bran vs wheat germ” into your favorite search engine. If you are having trouble sleeping, I suggest you read that before bed. You’re welcome.

So to the bran/milk mixture, I added instant yeast, wheat flour, bread flour, honey, sunflower oil, salt and finally the sunflower seeds. PSA – make sure when ordering sunflower seeds online you don’t choose the mega bag of sesame seeds by mistake. (If you need some, let me know. I think I have 500 pounds of them.)

After mixing and the first proof, the dough bulked up quite nicely. See for yourself.

You can see the bran bits in there. The dough was pretty great to work with. The roll size was smaller than previous recipes – 30g to the 50g I’d used for the soft dough recipes. My measurement were fine as far as the dough, but I should have reduced it further so I didn’t have a gazillion rolls. Ok I had like 50 rolls by the time I was done. The last dozen or so I weighed out to 50g and just adapted the baking time for the larger rolls. Egg wash, final proof, more egg wash and extra seeds on top then in the oven they went. Here’s my assistant posing for the camera. (Speaking of my Little, she wanted ginger bread cookies so we were doing two projects at once. I won’t do that again. Too much.)

Sunflower seed rolls before going into the oven

Here’s the final product.

After the bake

The flavor was just ok. Not awesome like the other recipes so far. I didn’t love them. I think they needed more sweetness. I took them to work and walked around my colleagues desks offering rolls with butter and asking for honest critique. The general consensus was good and some even seemed impressed that I made them myself. There was some constructive feedback, too. Maybe the sunflower oil was too much or off even though I bought the bottle the day before. Maybe it needed more sweetness to offset the nutty flavor which is what I think. Whatever the case, I’m chalking this one up to done and done. I froze half the baked batch. I think I’ll thaw them out soon and serve them with a honey butter – I think that would be delicious.

Oh and about those gingerbread cookies… they turned out great. The kid refused to eat them but I promise you they were good. I ate more than my fair share. We decided to make a gingerbread house this coming weekend. I’ve never done one before but there’s a first time for everything. And the recipe we tried was a winner. Didn’t need to chill the dough and the cookie was crunchy but the inside was softer. Delicious. Image below is before baking. I never did take pictures of the finished product after icing but they looked great. (Link to recipe if you click the image below.)

Gingerbread cut outs before baking

Recipe 9. Rye with Caraway Seeds

I’m so behind on this whole blogging part of this experience. I’m still keeping up with actually baking a recipe a week, but actually sitting down to write about the experience has proven to be harder than I thought. When I do have time, I find something else to do. Mindless stuff like binge watching shows on Netflix, catching up on laundry, deep cleaning the kitchen, and spending entirely too much time on Facebook.

A dear friend of mine suggested that instead of playing candy crush or watching TV that I should bring my laptop to bed with me and just do it at night before bed. It sounds good in theory, but after an exhausting day working or an especially long weekend day tending to a mouthy four year old, I’m just done. Still, my friend has a point so instead of dragging the laptop over, I’ll just blog using my cell phone instead of Candy Crush Friends. I’ve done a couple of posts using my phone; it’s not horrible but tapping letters is not exactly efficient.

So yeah, rye bread. I took a full week looking at rye flours online trying to find medium rye flour. I just could not find that precise wording. I finally pulled the trigger and just ordered some and figured I’d make it work. I also spent time looking at caraway seeds. I’d never used them before. I didn’t worry too much about them and just threw something into the cart. The recipe itself wasn’t too complicated. Instant yeast and flour in one bowl. Everything else (except caraway seeds) in the stand mixer. Dump flour/yeast mixture into mixing bowl. Dough hook. Four minutes on low, add seeds (my modification), and four more minutes one speed up. Turn out, fold. Bulk ferment (initial rise). Voila.

This was another recipe that called for the Pullman loaf pan. I’m so glad I brought it.

Here are a few pictures I took. I weigh everything because I prefer being exact. If you know me personally, you’re nodding as you read that. Shut up.

I want a new scale but this one is working just fine. I wish it measured heavier things. Mental note – maybe I can write about scales for another post.

And here is the finished product. It tasted delicious but the color was light. I probably could have let it brown a bit more but the texture was perfect. I also needed to adjust the measurements to make a slightly taller loaf. Regardless, it was delicious. We made sandwiches with corned beef and sauerkraut. Don’t knock it. They were delicious. Of course my favorite way to eat bread is warm from the oven with butter. So good. Nothing better.

Energy and persistence conquer all things.” Benjamin Franklin

Recipe 8. Grissini

I’ve gotten behind on my posts. Life has been crazy busy and that means when I do have down time I typically don’t feel like sitting in front of a computer and writing about a recipe that failed. Well, it didn’t fail really but it just wasn’t as much fun as I thought it would be.

So let me tell you about grissini or Italian breadsticks. These aren’t puffy or soft breadsticks like you get at the Olive Garden. They’re crunchy and crispy and taste of olive oil and salt though I didn’t know that until I made them. I’d never had them before. The dough is interesting in that it does contain yeast, but I wouldn’t consider them soft bread. The dough comes together similarly to the other recipes thus far and it uses bread flour. The consistency was quite dense. Here’s what it looked like after mixing.

Breadstick dough in stand up mixer after mixing and kneading
Grissini dough after mixing and kneading (dough hook)

I found this dough – well, truthfully most doughs that require rolling – to be a bit tough to work with as far as getting it shaped. I did my best. I cut off the excess so that I could create long strip of dough. I did the first batch using a knife, but because I wasn’t getting even cuts I took the recipes’s suggestion and pulled out my pasta maker that we’d received as a wedding present. Set up was easier than I remembered and I quickly got up to speed.

After all that, I loaded them up on baking sheets and brushed with olive oil I added sesame seeds and poppy seeds, but you wouldn’t know it after I stood them up.

Finished breadsticks, various sizes

The other issue I had with them was they cooled off too quickly when I packed them up to bring to the ballet class to share with the other parents, so the texture was more chewy than crispy. I ended up putting them back in the oven when I got home. They crisped right up. Much better but honestly I’m pretty sure I’m never going out of my way to make them again. I did learn quite a bit and the good news is I have renewed interest in making pasta. Noodle party!

Until next time,

Dina

Recipe 7. Pain de Mie

I was worried about this recipe for several reasons. I don’t know if it was the French name (it’s white sandwich bread essentially) or the fact that I had to use a Pullman pan – which up until this recipe I had never heard of – but worried I was. Oh yeah. And the maths. There was lots of maths. (I know math doesn’t need an “s” at the end but it’s how I’m saying it. It’s more fun.) So as I’ve had to do with all of these recipes, I’ve needed to size the servings down. This one was the biggest conversion yet. The recipe as written in The Book yields 37 plus pounds of dough which is supposed to make 15 three-pound loaves of bread. Fifteen!! Up until this point, I’d been dividing my recipes by 4 and just seeing what happened. I certainly didn’t need to make that many loaves plus my stand mixer could never hold 20 pounds of flour! I realized I needed to think about this another way and started looking online. I did additional calculations by dividing by eight but then I wasn’t sure I wanted to deal with two loaves as I only have one pan. Decisions. I started reading about baker’s percentages and then finally clued in on how to use that information in The Book. It was right there all along.

A baker’s percentage is a way to calculate ingredient percentages based off total flour quantity. The flour is considered 100% and then everything else is a percentage. For example, my recipe called for 20 pounds 15 ounces (335 ounces) of flour. The amount of water required was 64.9% (13 pounds 10 ounces or 218 ounces). I converted the pounds to ounces so I could do the calculations more easily. So if the yield is 15 loaves but I only wanted one loaf, I decided to divide flour by 15 – so 335 ounces divided by 15 equals 22.33 ounces of flour. So 22.33 equals 100%. To calculate water percentage, I would take total flour ounces 22.33 and multiply by 64.9% resulting in 14.49 ounces of water. The way I’d been doing it was just dividing it by a number (in prior recipes, I was dividing by 4) and guessing. So, to compare methods, 1/15th of 218 ounces equals 14.53 ounces of water and the baker’s percentage showed 14.49%. Pretty darn close!! I’ve probably lost everyone by now, but learning this method was a game changer. I feel confident I can start tweaking all kinds of recipes.

Now, back to the bread. It was awesome. Truly. Absolutely delicious bread which I used for days – sandwiches, cinnamon toast, grilled cheese, French toast… it was great. Even my kid liked it which is insane as she hates bread. (I don’t know how anyone could hate bread, especially someone I birthed, but there she is.) I need to make loaves in bulk and freeze them for later use.

And so now that this post is almost two weeks behind, I’m just going to show what I did and you can decide what you think. I did skip the ballet class taste testers because I ran out of time. They were disappointed. I sent the hubs a picture via text and he said they were jealous. After eating a warm slice with butter, they really were right to be sad. They missed out.

Pullman loaf pan
Ready to start rising
Ready to bake, lid on

So there you have it – pretty great bread. Can’t wait to make it again.