Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Baking Lessons

The only thing better than baking bread is baking bread with a friend! 

Molly came over for some homemade pizza and bread - I don't know what motivated her more, getting to eat it or the desire to learn - but I don't blame her either way! I really enjoyed getting to bake bread with a friend.

We decided to make a simple Honey Whole Wheat recipe found in Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day. Such a great book for easy, delicious breads!

For this recipe for 4 loaves you will need:  

3 cups warm water 
1½ tablespoons yeast 
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup honey
¼ cup unsalted, melted butter  
¼ cup rye flour
¼ cup vital wheat gluten flour
2¾ cups whole wheat flour
2¾ cups unbleached, white flour 

First, mix yeast, salt, honey, butter and water together in a large bowl. Measure out and the mix the flours in a separate bowl.

Then add all the flour at once and stir with a wooden or other sturdy spoon until even.

Way to go Molly! Another bread baker has been born. =)

That's it - let it rise for two hours in a warm spot in your kitchen (we ended up using the top of the fridge because we needed all the counter space for making pizza, and it is surprisingly warm up there!). We had to leave it for the night, and I baked it the next morning.

When you are ready to bake, pull out a chunk of the dough and shape into a loaf, adding some additional flour. Place it in your greased bread pan and let it rest and warm up for about 40 minutes. Slash the dough a 2 or 3 times across the top and then bake it at 450°F for 30 minutes.

Since Molly and I are both students at Western, I just brought the loaf to class with me and she was able to pick it up right after her class. Imagine that - fresh bread delivered!

Hands down, these two loaves right here are the best I (we) have made so far. Molly must have a magic touch when it comes to mixing. They were soft, moist, and simply divine.

And I have to say were even though I baked them only 8 hours ago because one went to Molly - and Ross ate most of the other one by the time I got home! I am very flattered.


I made the pizza dough earlier in the day so it would ready for when she came over; I totally felt like I was on a cooking show! We finished mixing the Honey Whole Wheat, left it to rise, and there was pizza dough ready to go!

Olive Oil Dough for Pizza from Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day 

For 2 pizzas, you need:

1½ cups warm water
2½ teaspoons yeast
2½ teaspoons salt
2½ teaspoons sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
3½ cups flour (I did half whole wheat, half white)

Mix the yeast, sugar, salt and olive oil first, the add the warm water.

Add the flour and mix with a spoon until all the flour has been evenly mixed into the dough.

Leave it to rise for 2 hours, then either use right away or you can refrigerate it for up to 10 days. This is a great dough to make the night before, or at the beginning of a busy week!

I have recently acquired a few goodies, so pizza making has become even more fun! Must haves for pizza and bread making:

A pizza stone and a pizza peel!

The pizza stone is great for free-form loaves, loaves in general, and it makes your pizza crusts nice and crispy.

So, after the dough has risen, or been stored, get out some extra flour and work it into the dough until you can roll it out nicely - I use a pin roller. You may find that the dough is pretty sticky since it is so wet, so just keep working in a bit more flour until it is ready.

Then, use cornmeal or a generous amount of flour to dust the pizza peel and lay your dough on it. Make sure that it can slide easily on the peel - if it cannot, add more flour to the peel under the dough. If it sticks you will not be able to slide it onto the pizza stone, which will be preheating in the oven.

Confession: this is Molly's pizza dough all the way, and looked much better than mine did. Mine turned out to be pretty lopsided and not very circular at all...

Preheat the stone at 500°F, then when it is time to bake the pizza decrease the temperature to between 425°F and 450°F.

In the meantime, top your pizza! We made another Caprese with tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and a classic red sauce.

It's not pictured (it's dark in the oven after all) but when you are ready to bake the pizza double check that the pizza is still slippery enough on the peel, and open the oven and carefully slide the pizza onto the stone. For tips on how to use a pizza peel watch this video.

Bake for 8-12 minutes, depending on your oven and desired level of crispiness. When it is done, remove the pizza from the oven by sliding it back on the peel and then onto a safe surface in your kitchen. DO NOT cut the pizza on the pizza peel. 

We also made Ross' favorite (well, not just Ross' favorite, but he started it): a BBQ Chicken Pizza.