Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tossing Pizza as tribute to Sherry

It was a sad challenge for the Daring Bakers this month because one of the hosts died suddenly Sherry of http://www.whatdidyoueat{dot}typepad{dot}com and the other host decided to quit the forum for personal reasons. So it only left Rosa's Yummy Yums to do the hosting for this month. Sher had shared her recipe from “Pizza Napoletana” from Peter Reinhart's “The Bread Baker's Apprentice” which yields a beautifully tasty, thin, crispy, yet chewy pizza crust and as a tribute it was chosen.

It is a delayed raising (cold fermentation) bread that is kept in the refrigerator (up to three days) to improve the texture taste and chewiness of the baked dough.

THE CHALLENGE: You have to use the tossing method (as explained below) for at least 2 Pizza Crusts. If you are not comfortable with it, then you can switch to the rolling method, but you HAVE to try the traditional method and exercise it, using at least two dough pieces. You should also capture the moment by either filming or photographing yourself while tossing the dough.

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

Makes 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 Tsp 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 Tb sugar
Semolina/durum flour or cornmeal for dusting


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

2. 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.

NOTE: 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.

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

4. With the help of a metal or plastic dough scraper, cut the dough into 6 equal pieces (or larger if you want to make larger pizzas).

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

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

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

6. 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.

7. 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 tablespooons 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.


8. 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.

9. 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).

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

10. 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.

NOTE: 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 reflour 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.

11. 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.

12. 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.

13. Slide the garnished pizza onto the stone in the oven or bake directly on the jelly pan. Close the door and bake for abour 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. On the contrary, if the bottom crisps before the cheese caramelizes, then you will need to raise the stone or jelly.

14. 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.

I did a semi-dried tomato, spinach, Italian sausage and soft mozzarella curd, the sauce was roasted garlic/red capsicum (bell pepper) pestoSemi-dried tomatoes with roasted garlic.

I chose marinated feta cheese, mushroom, garlic and semi-dried tomatoes as my topping the sauce was white-wine reduction. I like my piazzas crusty and using a baking stone and high temperature really are the keys to success - it makes the base very crispy.

Potato Cornmeal OO Bread

Potato imparts a soft crumb, an earthy taste and adds shelf-life to bread while cornmeal (polenta) adds colour and a crisp crust. I was in the mood for a bread to serve with my meatloaf (Spicy and Chilli) and I thought this might be the perfect compliment.

Potato Cornmeal OO Bread

3 cups 'OO' all-purpose unbleached flour
½ cup mashed potatoes (skins included)
½ cup of cornmeal (polenta)
2 cups warm water
2 teaspoons instant yeast
3 teaspoons salt

Preheat oven to 270C (520F) with a baking stone.
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and roughly mix to form a dough.
Let rest in refrigerator for one hour.
Turn out on counter and knead for 3-5 minutes.
Return to bowl and to the refrigerator for one hour.
Turn out to counter and shape into two loaves, place into pans.
Let rise until doubled in size, about one hour.
Bake for 15 minutes.
Reduced temperature to 220C (450F) for 35 minutes, until loaves sound hollow when knocked.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Pre-baked thick polenta pizza

I love thick thick pizzas and polenta makes for a wondrous crisp crust, a lovely yellow colour to the crumb and the mellow taste of corn. This is a pre-baked base after it is baked store in the freezer (about 3 months) or use later that day.

Thick Thick Polenta Pizza

2 cups polenta (cornmeal)
1 cup corn flour
2 cups strong bread flour
3 cups warm water
100 grams tasty cheese
2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons olive oil for drizzling over dough.

Preheat oven with baking stone to 260C (500F) for 50 minutes.
Combine all dry ingredients in a large bowl.
Make a well in the centre and add wet ingredients.
Mix roughly until a dough forms.
Let the dough rest for one hour in the refrigerator.
Turn out onto counter and knead for five minutes. Return dough to bowl.
Let dough rest one hour. Turn out and knead for five minutes.
Shape and place into a pan. 33cmx23cmx3cm. 13”x9“x1”.
(Or make two thin pizzas bases use two pans the same size as above.)
Let the dough rise until reaches the top of the pan.
Using your fingers dimple the surface of the risen dough and drizzle olive oil into the dimples.
Let the dough rise for 20 minutes.
Place pan onto the baking stone and bake for 20 minutes. Turning half way through.

To make your pizza

Your choice of Sausage, salami, char-grilled capsicums (bell peppers), egg plant (aubergine), marinated artichoke.
Your choice of cheese marinated feta cheese, tasty aged cheese, semi-dried tomatoes. Vegetables like spinach and herbs basil, chives.
Your choice of sauce, pestos, tomato sauce etc.

Pre-heat oven to 180C(350F) with baking stone.
Top the pre-baked pizza base with sauce and your toppings.
Bake for 30 minutes until the toppings are hot and the cheese is melted.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Stuffed Red Bell Peppers (Capsiums)

What to do with cold rice and meatloaf, it is cold and sunny in Sydney so I thought stuffed capsicums! A great dish any time of the year.

Stuffed Red Bell Pepper (Red Capsicum)

9 medium red bell peppers (red capsicums)
3 cups of cooked white rice
1 ½ cups of meatloaf
2 tablespoons of capsicum pesto

Preheat oven 180C (350F).
Combine rice, meatloaf and pesto in a large bowl.
Cut off tops of the peppers, and stuff with rice/meatloaf mixture.
Bake for 1 hour until the peppers are soft.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Banana Chocolate Walnut Loaf & Muffins

I love banana bread and I love chocolate and I love yoghurt, so I thought why not a cake that combines all of these into one. It has little added fat since the yoghurt and bananas make for a moist crumb and the whole wheat flour and walnuts makes for a healthier nutritional profile and complements the banana and chocolate flavours so well. The secret ingredient is a good pinch of cayenne pepper that stimulates the taste buds and intensifies all the flavours. (Try a pinch in your usual recipe and taste the flavour boost.)

I like to make a few muffins at the same time, these satisfy my hunger instantly so I can let the loaf cool to room temperature.

One-Bowl Banana Chocolate Walnut Cake (Makes 1 large loaf & 6 muffins)

3 cups self-raising whole wheat flour
½ cup dark cocoa powder (Belgium if possible)
1½ tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
2½ tsp ground cinnamon
Good pinch of hot cayenne pepper (this stimulates the taste-buds and increases the taste)
1 cup dark brown sugar (in the US add 1½ cups cane sugar, Americans have a sweet tooth, if you use white sugar the cake will not be as dark and shiny)
1 cup chopped walnuts
2 cups natural set (Greek) yoghurt
3 eggs
1½ tablespoons oil
3 large bananas, mashed

Step I Preheat oven to 180C (350F). Grease a large loaf [23cmx13cmx7cm (2litre) 9”x5”x3”(4.5 pints)] pan and a six ½ cup muffin pan with cooking spray oil.

Step II Combine flour, soda, cinnamon, cayenne pepper, sugar and walnuts in a large bowl. Stir in milk, eggs, oil and bananas until just combined.

Step III Spoon into muffin pan filling ¾ full smooth surface. Spoon the remaining mixture into the loaf pan and smooth surface (it should be over ¾ full). Bake muffins for 20-25 minutes and the loaf for 60-70 minutes until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Stand in the pan for 5 minutes. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Cold Comfort for Picnics

Spicy Chilli Bean & Rice Meatloaf

I go on picnics a lot and this recipe makes a great cold spicy meatloaf that can be sliced thinly to make sandwiches.

This simple picnic meatloaf recipe relies on a can of well flavoured chilli beans and Italian Chilli sausages. It can be eaten hot or cold it makes wonderful sandwiches. In the local market (Chatswood, Sydney Australia) the mince was $6/kg while the sausages were only $5/kg so a cheap recipe was to use the sausages in meatloaf. The combination of brown rice and beans boosts the protein content and improves the nutritional (high fibre) profile of the recipe. There is no need to add red bell pepper (red capsicum), onion, garlic or water/milk, the Chilli beans have all these in the can and the sausages contains extra seasoning and breadcrumbs so we only need two eggs and a small quantity of cornmeal to thicken the meatloaf to shape it into a loaf shape. The total cost is approximately $7 for the whole 2 kg or 4.5 lb loaf. Serves 8 with crusty white bread and salad.

Spicy Chilli Bean & Rice Meatloaf

Ingredients (Makes one large loaf, serves 8 with crusty white bread and salad.)
1 kg (about 2 lbs) Italian Chilli Sausages (skins removed)
3 cups of cooked brown rice (use 1 cup of uncooked rice to make 3 cups of cooked rice)
1 can (about 400 grams or 14 ozs) Mexican Chilli Beans
2 large eggs
1/3 – 1/2 cup of cornmeal (depending on the wetness of the mixture)
2 tablespoons hot chilli sauce ( I use ABC brand, an Asian import)

Glaze (Optional)
½ cup tomato sauce
½ tablespoon hot chilli sauce (or to taste)
4 tablespoons of brown sugar
4 teaspoons cider or white vinegar

Preheat oven to 200C (400F).
Place all ingredients (except cornmeal) into large bowl.
Mix adding cornmeal(2 tablespoons at a time) until the mixture comes away from sides of bowl.
Form into loaf shape
(or place into large 23cmx13cmx7cm(2litre) 9”x5”x3”(4.5 pints) meatloaf tin)
If using glaze brush half over the loaf.
Bake for 35 mins.
Pour remaining glaze over loaf and bake for another 35 mins.
Or simmer remaining glaze over medium heat until thickened slightly. Slice meat loaf and serve with extra glaze passed separately.

I use a meat thermometer to check that the internal heat is medium done.

This cold meatloaf will make about 30 slices for open-faced picnic sandwiches.

Sourdough Meatloaf Sandwiches topped with cheese and mustard

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The need to knead and the need for speed

Sometimes I get the urge to knead and I have a dough that needs about 30 mins to become smooth and elastic this is because we use dry cornmeal and potato flour which require a long time to incorporate into the dough. It is a very fast rising bread because potato flour really makes yeast grow fast. The cornmeal makes for a golden crumb and an even brown crust and the cheese makes for long lasting bread and the 'OO' white flour makes for a soft texture.

Sometimes I get the need for speed kneading and the same recipe with a little resting makes this possible. To reduce the kneading time to 3 mins. After you have roughly mixed the dough let it rest for 27mins and knead for 3 mins

Cheese, Cornmeal, Potato and 'OO' Wheat Bread
3 cups 'OO' wheat flour
1/2 cup potato flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
2 cups warm water
2 cups of grated cheese (strong tasting)
2 tablespoons oil
2 teaspoons yeast
1 tablespoon salt

Mix dry ingredients into a large bowl.
Make a well in the centre add water and oil.
Roughly mix into a dough.
Knead for 30 mins. (Or let the dough rest for 27 mins and then knead for 3 mins).
Return to bowl and cover with plastic wrap until doubled in size about 30-40 mins.
Lightly punch down the dough spread out on counter and spread with cheese.
Roll up the dough and shape into a round or log.
Loosely cover loaf with plastic wrap and let double in size about 15-20 mins.
Preheat oven to 460C (500F) for 45 mins. Add small cast iron pan on bottom of oven.
When ready to bake add water into pan to release steam.
Immediately place loaf onto baking stone for 20 mins.
Reduce heat to 220C (440F) bake for a further 20 mins.
Reduce heat to 200C (400F) for 20 mins.

Notice how the yellow cheese is spread out in the crumb of the loaf. I like the large holes this happens because of the folding process.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Roast Chicken

I love to make roast chicken. It is simple yet produces a dinner party result that everybody loves. Basically there is no recipe as such. Place the bird on a rack over a roasting dish and place into a preheated oven 260C (500F) for 10 mins. Lower the heat to 180C (350F) and bake for 45mins for each kilogram (or 20 mins per pound) until the bird is brown and oozing delicious juices. Rest for 10 mins. You can use the pan juices to make a simple gravy.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Three day bread (No Knead)

Time is what makes bread taste good. The longer it takes the dough to rise the better the taste. This loaf takes three days to ferment this is achieved by using a a very very small pinch of yeast in the dough and letting it rise in the refrigerator for a long long time. Also using a baking stone makes for a crisp crust.

5 cups (750gs) of strong bread flour (14% gluten)
2 cups (500 mls) water
pinch of yeast (use as little as possible)
1 tablespoon of salt

Place all the ingredients into a large bowl, roughly mix and place into refrigerator covered with two layers of plastic wrap
Wait three days until the dough comes together and looks like kneaded dough
Take dough out of refrigerator for one hour
Punch down dough and shape into loaf, let rise until doubled in size about 1-2 hours
Preheat oven to 250C (480F) with baking stone in the oven
Bake of 20 mins
Reduce to 220C (430F) bake of 20-30 mins until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped

The bread worked out so goood! When I took the loaf out of the oven it started to 'sing' (the crust made loud cracking noises) as the French say this is a great sign of a thin crisp crust and the crumb was soft and chewy.

If you click on the first photo you will see a closeup of the crackes that formed on the loaf.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

My Trip to Dublin Ireland

My trip to Dublin Ireland

Dublin is full it is a small city everything is crowded together its people, its buildings and its roads. O'Connell Street is the main street it has a 60 metre metal spike that dominates the street. The people crowd the streets during the day and the pubs at night. I stayed on Bachelor's Walk on the River Liffey right in the heart of Dublin. I was disappointed because it didn't rain while I was in Ireland I was hoping for the famous Irish rain, Sydney has been so dry and hot. Everywhere you see references to Dublin's writers James Joyce etc...And a big thank you to Anne and Amanda for helping me to get to Dublin for my job interview!

Where I stayed Abbey Court on Bachelor's Walk (notice sunny)

The Oldest Pub in Dublin Brazen Head Inn 1198 (notice not raining)

My first Guinness and the aftermath

The Metal Spike on O'Connell Street

The O'Connell Momument 1882 (note the blue skies)

The River Leffey (notice the bright light and blue skies)

Grafton Street full of people

Dublin's many churches
St. Catherine Church 1769

St. Patrick's 1192

Trinity College

St. Stephen's Green 1663 (More bloody bright sunlight)

The home of Guinness

James Joyce Statue

The Dublin Theatre festival Delirium

The Dublin Theatre festival was on and I ask to see a play and the lady behind the counter said “Do you want one with dialogue” well being a little conservative when it comes to plays I picked one with dialogue called Delirium. Here is the blurb

“If there is no God, everything is permitted...”

The Abbey Theatre presents a daring adaptation of Dostoevsky's classic tale of family rivalries, created by renowned Irish playwright Enda Walsh (Disco Pigs, Bedbound, The Walworth Farce) and the award-winning theatre O.

From its explosive opening, this bold and muscular interpretation demands you sit up and take notice!

The Karamazovs are a train wreck waiting to happen. A hated father and his sons battle it out over women, money and God. Uncompromising and on the edge, they don't so much live as burn up. 

Hilarious, brutal and tragic, Delirium pulsates with energy, bursting at the seams with barely controlled passions as emotion and intellect battle for stage time. Questions of faith and fundamentalism play out against unrequited love and a lust for life in a world that's losing its moral and ethical boundaries.

It was above average and I enjoyed the talking even if it is frowned upon.