Charlesford Crumpets

SO YUMMY!

Time and time again, it never ceases to amaze me how incredible homemade stuff tastes.

When making a homemade rendition of something, some things require a lot of work, some things require very little work, some things require absolutely no work whatsoever.

Where do homemade crumpets stand along that spectrum?

Well, if you already have a sourdough starter hanging around and you’re either trying to figure out what to do with the stuff you’re supposed to be discarding or your sourdough pet is becoming way too large & out of control — plus you’ve noticed that at this point making multiple loaves of bread is pretty much out of the question since you’ve already made yourself three loaves already, crumpets are totally the way to go. They’re practically instant gratification with very little work. (You will probably notice that except for the one time at Day 4 in the sourdough starter recipe that I don’t ever tell you to discard anything when feeding.)

This recipe is so quick & easy that it really does put the store-bought crumpets to shame. Not only that, but they’re actually faster to make than pancakes or french toast, believe it or not. The nice thing about the recipe is that when you make them, by my lazy method, you get 10 nice crumpets and don’t end up with a bajillion of them. If you’re lazy like me and have no desire to buy or even make crumpet moulds, then just fry them by the spoonful. I could try to get all hot’n’bothered by the fact they’re not perfectly symmetrical or as thick, but it really didn’t concern me one bit. In fact, for me, having thinner crumpets means that you can eat them straight out of the pan faster with butter and jam!

The original recipe came from Chocolate & Zucchini and it can be found here. I’ve made no changes to the recipe beyond my own laziness of not owning or buying crumpet moulds to make them store-bought looking. If you wanna go ahead and find yourself some moulds, by all means, have at it otherwise just do as I did and drop the batter by the quarter-cupful onto the frying pan.

Sourdough Crumpets
270 g/1 cup starter
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
oil for greasing

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together starter, sugar & salt. Set Aside.
Lightly grease and preheat a cast iron frying pan over medium-high.
When the skillet’s hot & ready, whisk the baking soda into the sourdough batter and watch it foam.
Make three, ~1/4 cup, crumpets at a time into the pan.

Cook for a few minutes until the surfaces are mostly dried then flip for a few more seconds so the tops can dry.
Transfer finished crumpets to a wire rack to cool.
Repeat with remaining batter.
Serve toasted (or straight out of the pan) with butter & jam.

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Sourdough Rye Experiment

The Hubbs really likes a good rye bread.

I’ve never made rye bread. Ever.

I am quite impressed that once I took Charlesford out of the fridge for an hour or so while I went grocery shopping, I came home and found him to be supremely bubbly & happy! He hadn’t even been fed yet and he was excited and rearing to go!

Last night I had sitting in a warm place, the beginnings of my very first sourdough rye dough. I found some awesome Youtube videos about The Baker’s Percentage and how to go about using it when making bread and it makes so much sense!

Having said that, the recipe that I am currently test-driving for my first sourdough rye gives measurements for both volume & weight. I haven’t changed up too much of the recipe thusfar other than I’ve cut the recipe down by half and omitted the caraway seeds. The only reason I’m omitting the caraway this time around is because I want a seedless loaf to eat at a later date.

I am thinking that Empyress was correct in her assumption that I am very likely to become VERY obsessed with bread-making, even if I didn’t want to be. I have all sorts of fantastic ideas running through my head as usual and not enough time, people or stomach space to accommodate for all this bread.

The original recipe is from the Sourdough Home website and the recipe is referred to as a Bohemian Rye Bread.

Charlesford Rye a.k.a. Sourdough Rye Bread

205g Sourdough starter
230g water
230g flour
205g rye flour
21.5g salt
18.5g softened butter

In a large bowl dissolve the sourdough starter in water then add remaining ingredients.
Stir until the mixture is too thick to be comfortable, it’ll be shaggy.
Cover with a towel & leave to rest for ~15 minutes somewhere warm-ish.
Knead for a few minutes or so, until the bread just comes together.
Form the dough into a ball, oil your bowl & the dough ball lightly then cover and leave somewhere out of the way for ~18hours
Once the dough has risen, turn out of the bowl and with wet hands, gently degas & shape into a nice ball.
Let rest on a floured surface, making sure to lightly flour the top, then cover again to rise for 2 hours.
After 1 1/2 hours rising time, preheat oven with a small, cast iron dutch oven with lid, inside to 475F for 30 minutes.
When ready to bake, slash top of bread a couple of times with a sharp knife.
VERY carefully remove pot & lid from oven, sprinkle cornmeal on bottom of pot, place dough inside and quickly replace the lid.
Reduce heat to 450F and bake bread for 30 minutes with lid.
Remove lid from pot, reduce heat to 400F and bake bread for another 15 minutes or until crust is golden brown.
Transfer bread to wire rack and let cool for at least 1 hour. DO NOT EAT!!
Once cooled, slather with butter and enjoy your new loaf of bread.

Success!

I did it! I made my first sourdough loaf of bread with Charlesford!

I’m so incredibly pleased at the results of my first loaf, but it can definitely use a few tweaks and adjustments to get the loaf where I would be 100% happy with presenting it as a proper loaf of bread, sourdough or no.

The crust is fantastic — the bottom of the loaf has a light coating of cornmeal and is a very handsome dark golden brown. It has just enough crustiness to give you some good solid crumbs when you slice the loaf with a serrated knife or if you’re feeling manly & rustic you could tear it into generous chunks. The top crust is perfectly golden brown colour and just “chewy enough” if there’s such a description to exist.

The loaf’s interior is actually a little bit too dense in a couple of places, so I don’t know if this is an indication that the loaf could have used another hour or two for the second proofing or perhaps use a little more of the sourdough starter to help boost the strength of the yeastie-beasties to make the amount of bread dough rise.

Flavour-wise, my loaf was actually a little too yeasty tasting for my liking. Again, my thoughts are that perhaps more proofing time for the second-rise before baking, might help fix that problem. In terms of sour-ness, it wasn’t at all sour compared to a loaf you’d buy in the store. On the one hand I was a little disappointed, but on the other, I was kind of okay with it because it’s already a really nice, hearty, bread that’s so much tastier than anything storebought.

What surprised me, through some of my original sourdough starter researching, was discovering that traditionally, sourdough bread isn’t supposed to actually BE very sour tasting to begin with. The whole sourness thing is more of an American phenomenon and sourdough breads that you buy at the grocery stores aren’t real sourdoughs at all: They’re just an everyday yeasted bread with an acid added to it for flavouring. Disturbing yet no real surprise there, once you think about it, especially since everyone’s into “biggy-ing up” flavours in all sorts of food.

I am not even close to being an amateur bread-baker, so I will have to do a more research to help fix these issues that I have. I have NO plans on becoming obsessive with my breadmaking — this is hopefully just gonna be a (bi-?)weekly experiment, seeing if I can eventually get a really nice loaf of bread that I can be proud to share with friends and family.

Onto the nitty-gritties!!

Firstly, I am slowly starting to realize that when making a sourdough starter, I should expect it to take a lot longer than whatever the recipe might state. One week in internet land is equivalent to about two or three weeks in my world. It’s kind of strange, but now that I am aware of this anomaly in the spacetime continuum, I can move on as planned. What this means for you: If you don’t have life within the first week, don’t despair. Keep on as you are and know that whatever is expected to happen, will happen in its own time.

Secondly, a couple of notes about where I got my recipes from. I can’t begin to tell you how many different recipes for Sourdough Starters I’ve read in hopes of getting something that would work for me without wasting so much flour just to get things going. In the end, I fiddled with a recipe for Wild Yeast Sourdough Starter, submitted by SourdoLady, to The Fresh Loaf website. There are tons & tons of starter recipes online, so by all means, if you already want to try your hand at some other recipe you have bookmarked in the past, go for it and grow your own yeastie-beasties!!

Thirdly, making sourdough bread, not including the prep-work for making the starter, takes time. Lots of time. This is not a recipe that uses instant yeast so you can bang out a loaf of bread in three hours. This bread takes, ideally, closer to twenty-four. But don’t panic because most of that is totally hands-off time just hanging out somewhere out of the way on the counter or in the fridge. Time spent actually manhandling your bread dough is probably something closer to twenty minutes total.

So with those few points in hand, I think we can get on with the adventure of making sourdough breads!

Sourdough Starter
You will need: 500ml Mason jar with ring, cheesecloth (or kleenex) + large container with lid (eventually)
Orange juice (to start)
Whole Wheat Flour (to start)
White Flour (to feed)
Filtered Water (to feed — I use boiled water that’s left to cool to room temperature)

Day 1:
In your 500ml jar, mix 2 Tbsp whole wheat flour + 3 Tbsp orange juice
Cover with cheesecloth & secure with metal ring, and let sit at room temperature for 24 hours.
Don’t forget to name your new sourdough starter!

Day 2: Stir well
Add 2 Tbsp whole wheat flour + 3 Tbsp orange juice
Cover again with cheesecloth & metal ring, and let sit at room temperature 24 hours.

Day 3: Stir well
Add 2 Tbsp whole wheat flour + 3 Tbsp juice
Cover again with cheesecloth & metal ring, and let sit at room temperature 24 hours.

Day 4: Stir down, measure out 1/4 cup starter and discard the rest.
Put the 1/4 cup starer in the large container with lid
Add 1/4 cup flour (your choice: white or whole wheat!) + 1/4 cup filtered water
Stir well, cover with cheesecloth & secure with metal ring, and let sit at room temperature for 24 hours.

Day 5 & onwards:Repeat this step until mixture starts to expand, bubble and smell yeasty.
Add 1/4 cup flour (your choice: white or whole wheat!) + 1/4 cup filtered water
Stir well, cover with cheesecloth & secure with metal ring, and let sit at room temperature for 24 hours.

When you think your sourdough starter is of a decent size (let’s say around 2+ cups worth), is stinky, bubbles with vim & vigour when fed, it’s time to try your first loaf of sourdough bread! At this point you can keep it in the fridge if you like, but just remember: When you want to use the starter, feed it after you’ve stirred it down & measured out the amount you want to remove for use.

The recipe that I used for my first sourdough loaf was found here. Biggest reason I chose this recipe was that it made a relatively small loaf that would be more than enough for The Hubbs & myself to finish in a decent amount of time. I didn’t follow all the intructions, but I would highly recommend that you take a look-see at what the original recipe has to offer as guidance for making the perfect loaf. The original recipe is chock-full of instructions (plus starter recipe) and way more detail than I am interested in for my own bread-making.

Homemade Sourdough Bread

3 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups warm filtered water (I use boiled water that’s been left to go cold)
1/4 cup sourdough starter
Cornmeal

Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
Stir your sourdough starter well & remove 1/4 cup for bread dough. Don’t forget to feed your starter!
Dissolve the sourdough starter in the water.
Pour the water mixture on the flour while stirring.
The dough will be pretty shaggy, like a no-knead loaf, so don’t bother trying to knead & make pretty.
Shape the dough into a ball and cover the bowl with plastic.
Leave the dough to rise for ~18hours at room temperature.
Gently deflate dough and re-shape into a ball.
Let rest on a generously floured surface, covered with a floured tea towel to rise for another 2 hours.
After 1 1/2 hours rising time, preheat oven with a small, cast iron dutch oven with lid, inside to 475F for 30 minutes.
When ready to bake, slash top of bread a couple of times with a sharp knife.
VERY carefully remove pot & lid from oven, sprinkle cornmeal on bottom of pot, place dough inside and quickly replace the lid.
Reduce heat to 450F and bake bread for 30 minutes with lid.
Remove lid from pot, reduce heat to 400F and bake bread for another 15 minutes or until crust is golden brown.
Transfer bread to wire rack and let cool for at least 1 hour. DO NOT EAT!!
Once cooled, slather with butter and enjoy your new loaf of bread.

Cross your fingers & wish me luck!

Charlesford is officially big & strong enough for me to sacrifice part of his being to make my first ever loaf of sourdough bread!

I’ve never made sourdough so I’m kind of anxious about the ability for it to rise. I’m excited and scared all at the same time.

Seems kind of stupid to be so emotionally invested in a ball of bread dough.

Sometime tomorrow I will have a freshly baked loaf to call my very own ^_^

WE HAVE LIFE!!!

I admit, it’s kind of a stinky life, but it’s still life ^_^

Cross your fingers our pet sourdough starter, Charlesford, will thrive, become something spectacularly tasty, and most of all: hope I don’t accidentally kill it. Cuz we all know how many times I have tried and failed to grow a sourdough starter from scratch.

I am pretty pleased that Charlesford actually grew. My first attempt last year at sourdough failed pretty miserably and I was so sad & disappointed. I don’t even know why I’ve been so keen on trying to make a starter from scratch since I didn’t exactly grow up with eating sourdough breads at all. The notion that you can make something from scratch — and I mean *scratch scratch*, just makes me so excited for some reason.

It’s just so cool. It’s just so cool, especially considering that I was seriously debating on whether or not to fork over 8(!!) bucks for a supposedly famous, well-established, dried sourdough starter from Alaska’s Klondike days when we were on vacation.

I’m hoping that maybe in a few more days time, I might be able to start using the starter properly instead of discarding stuff everytime you feed it. It always seems like such a shameful waste to be throwing out something like half your starter everyday. I can’t imagine how people could justify it in the “olden days” if they had to make a starter from scratch.. but then again, they probably didn’t have to worry about these things since they knew HOW to do these things properly, unlike myself.

ANYWHO.

The “recipe”, or method, that I used this time around was submitted by SourdoLady from a website called The Fresh Loaf: Wild Yeast Sourdough Starter. So now, Charlesford sits contently in a 1.5L mason jar, breathing & bubbling away as he should, until I figure out what to do with him. The Hubbs is a huge fan of sourdough breads and it would be nice if I could find a good recipe to show off Charlesford’s tang and abilities. I just hope that he doesn’t get out of hand, size-wise, if I don’t end up baking with him at least once or twice a week. I know you can feed them and put them in the back of your fridge to go into hibernation and will easily recover after a couple days of fresh food and a warm place to wake up.

In other news — I started up the Aero Garden again with a few different herbs. I find it most disappointing that I still can’t seem to grow herbs indoors or out, without the aid of the Aero. It’s just such a shame that we have no windows with adequate sunlight in the house and I’m having to resort to this method of growing things. I suppose it’s better than not having any chance of growing stuff myself, so I guess it’s not so bad.

It’s been less than five days and already three of the pods are sprouting: thyme, basil & savoury. The garlic chives, parsley, & oregano haven’t shown any signs of life still… although, no, wait.. I think the oregano ~might~ be showing something, but it’s hard to tell. There’s just the smallest green dot in the bottom of the pod that I can see. I do hope they grow. In fact, I am actually considering doing the something Empyress mentioned she was going to do with her current Aero Garden herbs which are nice and lush.

Since her herb garden’s full grown and we are, for the most part, safely into spring on our way to summer, she’s going to transplant everything into pots and disconnect the Aero for the rest of the season so they can continue grow larger, outdoors, without restriction. Once summer’s over and the days become shorter and the evenings a lot cooler, she will start up the Aero again so she can continue to have fresh herbs.

I don’t think I will wait until my herbs are full grown and established before putting them into pots, but hopefully starting everything in the Aero will help give them a bit of a boost & head start, as opposed to planting everything straight from seed. CPerhaps what I might also do is once the first batch of herbs have gone out, I’ll plant more seeds into Aero pods and start some other stuff which might do better indoors — like maybe the Medusa Peppers I grew last summer or some cilantro? Fresh cilantro in the house would be wonderful.

Cross your fingers for me and let’s hope that we have an amazing summer filled with backyard honey from the Ladies, a wonderful bounty of fresh herbs and a great experience with our first time with Noble Farm’s CSA veggies! ^_^

Homemade Garlic Naan

OMG I did it!

I made garlic naan!
At home!
From scratch!

A full stack of warm, homemade garlic naan

Two or three weeks ago I made homemade naan for the first time when Miss R & Lil’E=MC^2 came over for lunch. It was an acceptable first try, but it wasn’t quite 100% to my standards for naan. It was too puffy and reminiscent of store bought naan, which I find at best more like a really thick pita bread with garlic flavouring. It didn’t have any of the slightly charred and fat crispy bubbles that are more visible on a “real” naan.

There is one takeout Indian place that I love that has the best garlic naan I have ever eaten and it’s the benchmark level that I hold my naan creations up to. It is a rather high benchmark, but damnit, if I make naan, I want it tasting as good as, if not better than my favourite restaurant! I don’t want an imitation of what you get in the store, that stuff just isn’t right.

Lo and behold, check out my first properly bubbling naan:

First naan of the day properly puffing up in the pan

I have to say, I am immensely proud of how they turned out this time around. I think the success of this batch is because I divided the remaining dough (frozen from two weeks ago then thawed) into smaller portions, thereby making the naan much thinner when rolled out and they puffed up so much better when I spritzed them with water, which made proper steam bubbles.

Technique-wise, it was exactly the same as making homemade flour tortillas, with the exception of the spritzing the rolled dough with water before placing facedown on the screaming hot cast iron pan. Then you wait til the dough puffs up and gets beautifully browned on the first side, then spritz the dough again with water and flip it over so the steam bubble pockets get nicely charred and crispy, leaving the rest of the naan wonderfully soft and pliable. The only thing that you must, must, must remember to do when you pull it straight off the heat is to brush the naan with garlicky ghee while it’s still warm so the bread will absorb all the wonderful flavour.

Remember to keep everything warm while you cook the rest of your naan and then tear in & dip with your fave curries!

The recipe I used came from Use Real Butter, who apparently found the recipe from the NY Times. I don’t know why her recipe specifically stood out from all the other recipes I’ve read on the web, but for some reason it did, and it worked perfectly.

A few things to note: I made the dough entirely in my stand mixer because I just don’t have the energy or the strength to make bread doughs by hand anymore and instead of letting the dough rise at room temperature until doubled in size, I threw the whole thing into the fridge overnight, pulled the dough out the next morning and divided it all in half — sticking one half in the freezer for later use. The half that I made right away, I divided into six pieces and let sit at room temperature for its second rise. The freezer half that I made today I let thaw overnight in the fridge, divided the dough into 8 pieces and then proceeded as if it were freshly made.

Instead of the plain yoghurt, I used a greek yoghurt with honey because that’s what I had on hand in the fridge and I figured the extra sweetness wouldn’t do the recipe any harm. Do make sure you have ghee on hand for brushing the naan with garlic, it makes a huge difference and butter really does impart a completely different flavour. Obviously if you don’t care one way or the other about butter/ghee then disregard the comment, but I would highly recommend it. And just a note on garlic — for the naan dough, I use chopped fresh garlic, but for the ghee, I used minced garlic from a jar because I felt that it would be easier to brush onto the naan once it came off the heat.

Garlic Naan
Makes 16

2 1/2 tsp yeast (1 pkg)
2 Tbsp sugar
4 1/2 cups flour, plus extra for rolling
2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
2 garlic cloves, chopped
3 Tbsp milk
2 Tbsp Greek yoghurt
1 large egg
2 Tbsp oil (plus extra for the bowl)
3/4 cup warm water
3 Tbsp ghee (or melted, unsalted butter)
2 cloves garlic, minced

In a small bowl, combine the yeast, sugar and 1/4 cup warm water. Let stand until foamy.

Place flour, salt and baking powder in stand mixer with a dough hook. Mix to blend. Add yeast mixture, milk, yogurt, egg, oil and 3/4 cup warm water. Knead dough until smooth and elastic. Dough should be soft but not too sticky. You can add extra flour but only if it’s absolutely needed.

Place dough in a large, lightly oiled bowl, turning to coat all sides. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, then a kitchen towel. Let the dough rise in a warm, spot until doubled in size or toss into the fridge overnight, minus the towel.

Punch down dough and divide into 16 pieces. Roll into balls and place them on a lightly floured baking sheet, covered with a slightly damp kitchen towel. Let rise again until doubled in size.

Mix warmed ghee with minced garlic and set aside with pastry brush.

Set a cast iron pan on medium high heat.

To Cook Naan: Roll out a dough ball on a lightly floured work surface, very thinly, into a disk about the size of your hand. When pan is screaming hot, lightly spritz naan with water and quickly place wet side down in pan. Cook until naan is puffed and browned, 1-2 minutes. Spritz top of naan lightly with water and flip, cooking 1-2 more minutes until puffed areas are blistered and brown.

Remove naan from pan, quickly brush tops with garlic-ghee mixture and keep warm in a low oven until ready to eat.

Repeat with remaining dough.

Thinky thoughts..

So, for the last couple of months I’ve been thinking random things and one of these things that keeps resurfacing is this: croissants.

Specifically, learning how to make croissants from scratch.

A croissant I miss especially, are those that the City Bakery used to make — almond croissants and even chocolate croissants. Or I suppose more correctly pain au chocolat and croissants aux amandes. I like chocolate croissants well enough, but it’s almond croissants which I love more, with the marzipan filling and light icing sugar dusting over crisp sliced almonds. Paired with a hot cup of milky tea, an almond croissant is just a wonderful way to start a cool fall or winter morning.

Ever since City Bakery closed, I’ve not been able to find a decent croissant in years. Actually, no, that’s not entirely true. I did have a very tasty croissant from Brulee Patisserie this summer that I would happily buy again, but they are far, far away from us being all the way downtown. Not that the City Bakery was any closer, but at least we didn’t have to deal with paying for parking and it was a nice place to stop in on weekends to pick up a wonderful foccaccia and a few little cakes along with a croissant or two. Who the hell wants to pay for parking for a five minute stop-in for a loaf of bread?

So, I have decided that I should just learn how to make croissants myself.

Yes, I could just go to the grocery store and buy something like a Pillsbury tube, but those are kind of scary… and they taste funny, too. In fact, I have discovered that all Pillsbury stuff that I have come across, tastes funny. I suppose I could buy some puff pastry and make something resembling a croissant, I am certainly not opposed to doing that seeing as frozen puff pastry is actually really darned tasty….

But, no… I want a real croissant and to be honest, the idea of making a croissant from scratch makes me a little nervous and excited. Just the thought of making a homemade croissant makes me a little giddy and even a teeny bit scared.

So that’s my plan.

I don’t know when it will happen, but I think it will have to be when the weather has decided to cool down permanently and I am feeling a little more human again. The current weather changes have left me feeling pretty rough around the edges the last few days and I think I need at least a couple weeks, I imagine, to try and feel something resembling normal.

I am thinking that this might be an ambitious project, with a lot of patience involved, but it will definitely be worth it in the end.

Besides, what could possibly be better than fresh croissants with jam? Afterall, I do need a proper vehicle for all the jams I’ve made this year.

Wish me luck ^_^

Homemade Pizza

Yesterday I made homemade pizza!

A couple of days ago I was watching some really old episodes of Jamie Oliver’s The Naked Chef show. I just happened to come across them while looking at other things on youtube and I realized how much that show and his cookbooks got me super excited about cooking. At that time, The Hubbs & I were just dating and it was the first time I had ever been exposed to The Food Network — when cooking shows were actual cooking shows and not reality tv programs. I was looking forward to being able to have my own kitchen to start learning how to cook and experiment. Watching those shows really piqued my interest in food and cooking.

After watching a few of the episodes and reminiscing, I pulled out the first cookbooks I had ever owned and started flipping through them. I have to admit, it was kind of cool to see the notes I had made in the recipe’s margin every time I came across it in an episode of the show. It made me want to go back and find those episodes so I could see what made me so excited to try the recipes myself.

One of the episodes I had watched the other night was for homemade bread, which spawned the idea of making pizza with the intentions of baking them on the BBQ grill, but with the wind being as crazy as it is the last few days, I opted to just make them in the oven. The recipe makes about 2lbs worth-ish of dough.


Pizza Dough

I had originally planned on making a couple of pizzas for dindin and then with the remaining dough, make a sheet of focaccia with some caramelized onions, garlic, olive oil and generous sprinkling of coarse salt. Things being the way they are of course in my life, that didn’t happen. All we ended up doing was making two pizzas for dindin and then another two pizzas to be eaten this morning for breakfast. The remaining dough I divided into two bags and tossed them into the freezer for future use.

I have to admit, I’m quite proud of my bread dough! I started it off in the food processor to get things going but then I ended up dumping everything onto the counter so I could give it a good kneading. I forgot how much energy and stamina is required to knead bread — not to mention the fact that my hands still haven’t quite got the knack of closing properly since SALLY and so the act of kneading is actually a little more awkward for me than it used to be pre-SALLY. Either way, after the kneadning process, I tossed it into a greased bowl, covered it with plastic wrap and a tea towel and put the whole thing into the oven so it could do its thing. I punched down the dough once at some point, folded it a few times on itself in the bowl, covered it up again and then left it in the oven until dinner time, when we were ready to eat. The dough rose absolutely beautifully.

The taste and texture of the dough was quite fantastic. I realize that it’s “just bread dough”, but when you make it from scratch, it just seems to taste better. I’ve made bread dough in the breadmaker and pulled it out to shape by hand before tossing into the oven and even then, it doesn’t taste quite the same as when it’s done mostly by hand (and “by hand” I do generally mean in my kitchenaid and then kneaded by hand until I’m too tired to continue).

Topping-wise, The Hubbs and I have very different tastes in terms of what we like on pizzas. We do have a habit of ordering 2 pizzas when we have takeout, but we will both each eat what the other has ordered, but with making homemade pizzas, it’s rather awesome. No needing to share or compromise, whatsoever.

The Hubbs’ All-Meat Pizza


The Hubbs’ pizzas of choice tend to be all-meat pizzas. Mine, I generally prefer to have at least something vegetable-like on my crusts. Last night was no different: The Hubbs did a pepperoni, ham & salami pizza and I made a Prociutto, Anchovy, Tomato & Basil pizza.

My Prosciutto, Anchovy, Tomato & Basil Pizza

I have admit, I am thoroughly impressed at how awesome and relatively easy it is to make pizzas at home once you have the dough thing all worked out. It’s pretty fun and ultimately very satisfying when your pizza comes exactly the way you want it.

After dinner, we realized we were both pretty full from eating just the one pizza, so we decided on making a second pizza each just so we could have them to eat later. I don’t recall what The Hubbs’ second pizza consisted of, but mine was Salami & Ham with Basil.


Salami, Ham & Basil Pizza

Even reheating the pizzas this morning for breakfast, the texture and flavour is so much better than that of a takeout pizza. Supreme pleasure to eat with the crusty and golden brown bottom and puffy-chewy crust. So yummy.

Basic Pizza Dough
2lbs flour
2 cups warm water
1 envelope yeast
2 Tbsp sugar
3 tsp salt
olive oil

cornmeal
pizza toppings
tomato sauce
cheese

In a measuring cup, combine 1 cup warm water with sugar and yeast. Set aside to proof for a few minutes.
In the bowl of a mixer (or food processor), add flour and salt and mix for a few seconds to combine
Add yeast mixture to flour and mix with dough hook, adding the remaining cup of water, until everything comes together.
Lightly flour surface and tip out dough mixture, knead by hand until dough becomes smooth and elastic, adding more flour as needed to keep things from sticking like mad.
When dough has come together nicely, oil a large bowl with olive oil and roll the dough ball around until it’s coated.
Cover bowl with plastic wrap and a tea towel and leave in a warm draft-free place to rise until doubled in bulk.
When dough has doubled, punch down dough, fold it over onto itself a few times cover it again and leave alone until ready to use.

To make pizza: Preheat oven to 475F.
Line a cookie sheet with tin foil and lightly sprinkle with cornmeal. Set aside.
Punch down dough again and knead a bit to combine.
Take a portion of dough (about a handful) and knead it on a floured surface until it gets to a nice size that’s not too thick or thin.
Place pizza crust on cookie sheet, spread with tomato sauce, toppings and cheese.
Bake for 12 minutes until golden brown and cheese is bubbly.
Serve immediately.

Yum, homemade flour tortillas!

Wow, I just realized something: I had posted about making homemade refried beans, but I failed to post the recipe I used to make homemade flour tortillas that same night o_O;;

Bummer. I didn’t realize that I had left everyone stranded without the flour tortilla recipe! How sad and disappointing is that? I feel quite badly now since it’s been a good 3+ weeks since I made them and I keep mentioning/thinking about making them again.

The recipe I used is off Youtube. Well, actually, it’s more like from the Sin City Recut & Extended DVD. I don’t even know how I managed to stumble upon the video, but it was pretty awesome and also happens to be the recipe I used for the potato scramble when I first made the flour tortillas. Awesome possum, I tell you.

Flour Tortillas
2 cups flour
2 tbsp lard
2 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp bp
3/4+ cup hot water

Throw all the dry ingredients in to a food processor and pulse a few seconds until you have a mealy texture.
Add hot water through feed tube until you have a nice cohesive ball, adding more if needed.
Let the machine run a bit longer until you get a nice smooth texture and dough is “kneaded”.
Take out dough and divide into 8-10 golf ball sized pieces.
Get a warm damp towel and cover dough for 20-30 minutes.
After dough’s rested, heat a cast iron pan over medium heat until hot.
Roll out tortillas as thin as possible.
When pan’s hot, lay tortilla in dry pan for a few seconds until it turns brown in a few spots.
Flip tortilla and let brown in few spots on other side for a few seconds.
Flip once more and let the tortilla puff up, pressing down with a spatula to squish out air.
When tortillas are cooked, set aside in towel lined casserole to keep warm.
Repeat with all tortillas. Serve hot and fresh. Yum.

As for yesterday, I am uber proud of my accomplishments once again. I made buttermilk biscuits for the first time and I served them with sausage gravy! I think I still need to work on my sausage gravy-making seasoning skills. Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay salty. Like crazy waaaaaaayyyyyyy salty! Totally my own fault, but still. The Hubbs seemed to be mostly okay with it, but I have to ask: what does one serve with biscuits and gravy to make it a more “complete” meal? (Read: greenary? suggestions? salad??)

Hello Kitty buttermilk biscuits

I have to admit, I was pretty impressed! I followed Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything iPad app recipe, for the most part, but did make a couple of changes mostly due to the fact that Calgary’s lack of humidity makes a difference in how much liquid you need to use in a recipe to make things come together properly. You’d think I’d realize this liquid issue after my lightbulb moment with making risotto, but no. I also increased the quantity of butter used (shameful!) and brushed the tops of the biscuits with whatever buttermilk dregs remained in my measuring cup to help fascilitate golden-browness ^_^ Anyhow, recipe is super simple since it uses the food processor. I seem to be all about using my food processor lately.

Buttermilk Biscuits
2 cups flour, plus extra for dusting
1 scant tsp salt
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/3 cup cold butter (more is better)
¾ cup+ buttermilk

Heat the oven to 450°F
Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl or food processor.
Cut the butter into chunks and pulse it in the food processor, the butter should be thoroughly blended into the flour mixture.
Pulse a few of times to stir in the buttermilk, just until the mixture forms a ball.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it 10 times; no more.
Press dough into ¾” thick rectangle and cut into 2‐inch rounds with a (Hello Kitty!) biscuit cutter.
Put biscuits on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Gently reshape the leftover dough and cut again.
Brush tops of biscuits with a little bit of buttermilk and bake for 7 to 9 minutes, or until golden brown.

It’s that time of year again: Easter Bread!

Cardamom Braid Time!

I made this bread for the first time last Easter because I didn’t make semla or hot cross buns as planned.

I’m thinking I actually don’t mind making this bread as a celebratory Easter bread, even though I don’t celebrate the occasion myself. For me it’s more of a nice symbol of what will hopefully be a lovely spring to come.

Today I am making this for MIL & The Hubbs’ Sister + Family and tomorrow, I am going to crank out the bread machine again to make Monkey Bread for our D&D session tomorrow.

Busy baking bee is busy.