Friday, November 21, 2008

The dough that wowed~

Whenever we have pizza, stromboli, calzones, etc., I always prefer to make the dough rather than buying it. Not only is it a money saver, but it tastes so much better too! But I also know that making dough is not always in everyone's best interest, especially when it comes to time.

But this dough recipe that I found on BrownEyedBaker really wowed Alex and I. For Alex it was the taste and the fact that it was thin but not to thin, and for me it was working with the dough. There has never in my opinion been a dough easier to roll out even after it has been frozen and thawed.

Here is the recipe for the dough adapted from Baking Illustrated. A couple of notes though, I have used all purpose flour and it has been fine. Also the other day for stromboli I used regular yeast and just let it sit in a warm space for 6 hours. Again it came out great and I always use the stand mixer variation. I think it's quite foolproof. Plus it makes enough for two to three dinners. Now that is time saved in my book:)

Pizza Dough (Source: Baking Illustrated, pages 153-155)

Makes enough for 3 medium pizzas.

We find the food processor is the best tool for making pizza dough. However, only a food processor with a capacity of at least 11 cups can handle this much dough. You can also knead this dough by hand or in a standing mixer (see the variations that follow). Unbleached all-purpose flour can be used in a pinch, but the resulting crust will be less crisp. If you want to make pizza dough in the morning and let it rise on the counter all day, decrease the yeast to 1/2 teaspoon and let the covered dough rise at cool room temperature (about 68 degrees) until doubled in size, about 8 hours. You can prolong the rising time even further by refrigerating the covered dough for up to 16 hours and then letting it rise on the counter until doubled in size, which will take 6 to 8 hours.

1/2 cup warm water (about 110 degrees)

1 envelope (about 2 1/4 teaspoons) instant yeast

1 1/4 cups water, at room temperature

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

4 cups (22 ounces) bread flour, plus more for dusting work surface and hands

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Olive oil or nonstick cooking spray for oiling the bowl

1. Measure the warm water into a 2-cup liquid measuring cup. Sprinkle in the yeast and let stand until the yeast dissolves and swells, about 5 minutes. Add the room-temperature water and oil and stir to combine.

2. Process the flour and salt in a large food processor, pulsing to combine. Continue pulsing while pouring the liquid ingredients (holding back a few tablespoons) through the feed tube. If the dough does not readily form into a ball, add the remaining liquid and continue to pulse until a ball forms. Process until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 30 seconds longer.

3. The dough will be a bit tacky, so use a rubber spatula to turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead by h and for a few strokes to form a smooth, round ball. Put the dough into a deep oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled in size, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Press the dough to deflate it.

Pizza Dough Kneaded by Hand

Follow the recipe for Pizza Dough through step 1. Omit step 2 and instead combine the salt and half the flour in a deep bowl. Add the liquid ingredients and use a wooden spoon to combine. Add the remaining flour, stirring until a cohesive mass forms. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth and elastic 7 to 8 minutes, using as little dusting flour as possible while kneading. Form the dough into a ball, put it in a deep oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and proceed with the recipe.

Pizza Dough Kneaded in a Standing Mixer

Follow the recipe for Pizza Dough through step 1. Omit step 2 and instead place the flour and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle. Briefly combine the dry ingredients at low speed. Slowly add the liquid ingredients and continue to mix at low speed until a cohesive mass forms. Stop the mixer and replace the paddle with the dough hook. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Form the dough into a ball, put it in a deep oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and proceed with the recipe.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Rollin' Stromboli

I love making stromboli, first and foremost, because it is so simple and so delicious. I have made strombli multiple different ways: with homemade bread dough, rhodes bread dough, traditional, italian and american. Everytime it's delicious.

Last night we needed a quick dinner, so in the morning I threw together a quick batch of bread dough for the stromboli. Last weekend my mom gave us some lunch meat. Though we liek sandwiches, somehow it usually goes uneaten. To ensure it was used before it expired, ham, turkey and cheese stromboli went on the menu.

With the dough rising throughout the day, throwing it together was easy. After arriving home from work I rolled out half the dough and layered turkey, ham and cheese on the dough. Roll it up jellyroll style, seal edges iwht water and pop in the oven...dinner in no time flat. We served it with tomato soup and salad for a filling and nutitious dinner!

Variations we love:
-any pizza style filling, pepperoni and cheese for pepperoni bread
-traditional with salami, cheese, peppers, etc.

Make it your Way Stromboli (adapted from Cooks Illustrated Best Make Ahead)

-1 pound of the dough of your choice
-Fillings of your choice
(approximately 4 ounces of cheese and 1/2 pound of lunch meat)

Bake at 400 degrees for about 30-40 minutes. You can cover with foil if desired for the first 20 minutes but it is not necessary.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Yummy coffee cake!

I like breakfast breads, muffins, coffeecake, you name it, I like it. But we don't have them a lot at our house because they just don't seem to do the trick in sustaining us until lunch...must be all the nutritional value:) Plus, they are not all that quick for a week day morning.

But Sunday, I had plenty of time before church so I quick pulled together a delicious coffeecake. The best part about this, is that it is made from cake mix, so it's really quick and easy.

I found the recipe on Picky Palate, and this hit the mark. She calls it a clone on Starbucks coffeecake while I'm just calling it New York Crumb Cake. Either way, it's delicious any time of the day! I chose to divide the cake mix in half like I usually do to scale down the size. I made it in an 8 inch square pan, and we still have plenty leftover.

New York Crumb Cake (adapted from picky palate)

1 Box Yellow Cake Mix (plus ingredients on back of box)

2 Sticks cold salted butter

2 1/4 Cups flour

1 1/2 Tablespoons cinnamon

1 ¾ Cups sugar

1 1/2 Tablespoons vanilla

Powdered sugar (for dusting)

PREHEAT oven to 350.

PREPARE cake mixe in large bowl according to directions on box. Spray 9X13 pan with non-stick spray. Pour batter into pan. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes or until center is just barely set.

WHILE cakes are baking, prepare crumb topping. In large bowl of electric mixer combine, butter, flour, cinnamon, sugar and vanilla until all crumbly.

IMMEDIATELY after cake is removed from oven, break crumb topping into marble size pieces with fingers, sprinkling over top. Put back in oven and bake an additional 10-15 minutes (topping will begin to look a little less wet/raw). Let cool fully then dust with powdered sugar, using a sieve.

CUT into squares and serve.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Loving Bacon in Spaghetti Carbonara

We love italian food and Alex loves bacon. So for an easy dinner, quick and delicious, Spaghetti Carbonara hit the mark. All you need is a little bacon, some fettucini, cream, eggs, and parmesan, and a delicious dinner is on the table in no time flat.

Lately I have been cooking a lot from the Everyday Food magazine. Not only do the recipes rely on ingredients most have on hand, they are quick, easy, and delicious!

Spaghetti Carbonara (Everyday Food, 2007)
Serves 4
1 pound spaghetti (i used buitoni fresh fettucini)
8 ounces (8 slices) bacon, cut 1 inch thick crosswise
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
3 large eggs
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
1/2 cup half-and-half


Set a large pot of water to boil (for pasta). In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 8 to 12 minutes; transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate.

Salt boiling water generously; add pasta and cook until al dente, according to package instructions.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together eggs, Parmesan, and half-and-half. Set aside.

Drain pasta, leaving some water clinging to it. Working quickly, add hot pasta to egg mixture.
Add bacon; season with salt and pepper, and toss all to combine (heat from pasta will cook eggs). Serve immediately, sprinkled with additional Parmesan cheese.