Sunday, November 8, 2015

Bubbly No-Knead Pizza Crust

I think my family let me have the bubbliest piece because they love me.

I ran across this recipe while browsing King Arthur Flour's blog Flourish a couple of weeks ago. The post was written by one of the KAF owner employees I met when I was there for a baking class--Julia Reed was assigned to take some pics in the Baking Education Center and she was such a warm person with a great sense of humor. At any rate, she titled this post "The Best Pizza You'll Ever Make" and it's true. I've made a LOT of pizzas in my day, and I really think this one was the best--and simplest. The crust got delightfully bubbly, crisp, and chewy, and it had a fabulous flavor all on its own. Then with the toppings...mmm. Just perfect. And the dough prep involved no kneading at all--just a little stirring, folding, and waiting. If you want to see a great tutorial with detailed pics of the process, click here. Below is how I did it, but know that I referred back to the Flourish post several times just to be sure I was on the right track.
So, if you're into pizza and want to experience an airy, bubbly homemade crust, you have to try this recipe. You just have to.

Note: I made a 1 1/2 recipe since I knew my family would require an amount of pizza produced by at least 3 cups of flour as opposed to the 2 cups in the original recipe. What you see below reflects what I actually did.

No-Knead Pizza Crust
    --adapted from Flourish/

Note: This pizza turns out best if you have a baking stone, or even better, a sheet of baking steel (which I do not yet have).
Mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl. Dough might look a little dry now, but it will turn gooey and wet over while it ferments/rises. Cover bowl and allow dough to rise 24 hours. 
When dough has risen and you're about 1 1/2 hours from wanting to eat pizza, preheat oven to 550 degrees Fahrenheit.
Turn dough out onto a heavily floured surface and cut in half. Working with one piece of dough at a time, stretch one end of the dough and fold over the middle third of the piece of dough. Then stretch the other end and fold over like a letter. Go to an unfolded side, stretch, and fold just like you did before, but with the opposite sides. Tuck all of the ends to the underside and place in a floured bowl. Cover. Repeat with the other piece of dough and allow to rise for 45-60 minutes.
Get all of your toppings ready. Line a pizza peel or underside of a baking sheet that will act as a peel.
Turn a piece of dough out onto a well-floured surface. With gentle fingertips, press and stretch dough from the center taking care not to squash the outer 1/2 to 1 inch of the circle you are forming. Then gently lift dough circle with your knuckles and allow dough to stretch with the force of gravity, gently moving your knuckles around the edge to stretch and enlarge the crust. Stretch to about a 12 inch diameter and then place on the prepared parchment. Cut the parchment in a circle about 1/2 to 1 inch larger than the crust.
I topped my pizzas with homemade pizza sauce, pepperoni, sliced mozzarella, Roma tomatoes, and fresh sliced garlic.
Slide topped pizza onto the baking stone/steel, turn oven to broil, and bake/broil for about 6 minutes. (Note: if your broiler is less than 8 inches from the pizza surface, don't do the broil, just bake at 550 degrees until bubbly and melty.)
Pizza will start to char on the top of the big, bubbly edges and cheese will be melted and probably start to brown.
Slide back onto pizza peel or inverted baking sheet, cut, and serve. Be careful not to burn you mouth.
Makes two large pizzas.
Right after mixing the dough, it's lumpy and kind of dry.
Surprising how wet the dough gets after 24 hours.
These dough balls are sitting for their second rise. See the original post on Flourish for more pics.
I've really been liking the sliced mozzarella that I've been using lately on pizza.
Can you hear the angels singing? Oh my goodness. So good.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Multi Grain Rolls

Chewy and fluffy multi grain rolls
Winter time means I take food pics in unnatural lighting. Boo.

Although I'd never label myself as fan of multi-grain anything, I can't get enough of these rolls. I may actually like these as much as I like the French batards that I learned to make at the King Arthur Flour Baking Education Center.
When I made these in the Bread: Principles and Practice class, I forgot to add the yeast and salt. I know, kind of dumb considering there's only a handful of ingredients in these rolls. My excuse is that we were using weight measures for the first time that day, and I got all flustered when I forgot to press "tare" on my any rate, I didn't realize my mistake until after the first rise when my dough didn't smell yeasty at all and just had an odd texture. 
My "rolls" ended up like little beige hockey pucks, so they all got tossed into the compost bucket. Sigh. I did get to try the rolls that my teacher and my baking buddy Diane made, though, and that made me even sadder about my mistake, because I loved them.
I enjoy all of the textures in this roll, as well as the flavor and salt level. They are chewy, but light, and each of the grains and seeds provide their own flavors and textures that make each bite different. I like them fresh and warm with a bit of butter, but they are also fabulous with a little mayo and deli roast beef. Mmm. 
Believe it or not, it took me three tries (well, four if we count the one in my baking class) to get these right. At first I just used all purpose flour because it's what I had and I'd forgotten we used bread flour in class (and that the recipe called for it--duh). So my first two batches at home just did not have the fabulous fluffy, open crumb texture that instructor Amber's had. 
Then I remembered the bread flour. Not four hours passed between that realization and my trip to Target to pick up the bread flour. And yes, the bread flour makes a BIG difference. The bread flour rolls are softer and fluffier, with bigger air pockets on the inside and a chewier, more pliable exterior.
Even though I switched to a half-recipe for the last two tries, I still have many of these in my freezer. I need to curb this break baking frenzy I'm on. Maybe this week I'll take a break. Maybe.

Multi Grain Rolls


Grain Soaker:
About 8-16 hours before you plan to mix up the rolls, place grain mix in a large bowl and  cover with water. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and allow to sit for 8-16 hours.

After grains have soaked, add the remaining ingredients. With a bowl scraper or a spoon, mix 5 1/2 cups of the flour and the rest of the ingredients until the dough comes together and flour is completely incorporated. Using the remaining half cup of flour a little at a time to lightly dust a kneading surface, gently knead the dough until elastic and springy, dusting only with as much flour as necessary to keep dough from sticking to surface. Remember not to knead too aggressively.
Returzn dough to the mixing bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise at room temperature for 45 to 90 minutes, or until doubled in bulk.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Turn risen dough out onto a lightly floured surface and cut in half. Cut each half into 8 equal portions. Take each piece of dough and pre-form it into a pouch. Then roll each pouch into a ball and place on prepared baking sheet. Cover dough balls with plastic wrap that has been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.
Allow rolls to rise for 45 to 60 minutes, until well puffed.
Bake at 400 degrees for 17-20 minutes, or until nicely golden brown in color. Remove rolls to a cooling rack and allow to cool for a few minutes before enjoying.
Freeze any uneaten rolls in a zip-top freezer bag.
Makes 16 rolls

Note: In class we made one small boule and 8 rolls. I like the rolls, so that's the recipe I'm giving you. You can also divide dough in half and form two loaves. Slash before baking and bake 28-32 minutes at 400 degrees F.  

The seeds after soaking overnight
I remembered all of the ingredients this time.
Dough kneaded and ready to rise
The dough is risen.
Can you see the difference in texture between these two rolls? Roll on left has all purpose flour, and the roll on the right has the bread flour.
Long story short, I had to take a pic of these rolls on the windowsill of the classroom I subbed in today.

Multi Grain Mix (most ingredients purchased from the bins at Whole Foods)
  • 3/4 cup rye flakes
  • 1/2 cup groats/oat berries
  • 1/3 cup millet
  • 1/3 cup bulgur wheat
  • 1/3 cup sunflower seeds (raw & unsalted)
  • 1/4 cup golden flax seeds (whole)
  • 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup poppy seeds
Mix and store in an airtight plastic container or bag. 
Makes 3 cups

Saturday, October 31, 2015

French Bread Batards

Can you hear the angels singing for these homemade French batards?

Sooo, I'm finally getting around to posting these loaves that I made a week ago. I can't even tell you how excited I was about being able to make these in my own oven. It was crisp and chewy on the outside and soft and tender on the inside. Mmm. I did not let these loaves rise quite long enough. They probably could have taken another 15-20 minutes of rising, but I had to get to my son's soccer game, so they had to go in the oven early. They still made my heart sing. 
This post has a ton of pictures at the end, along with a few videos, my favorite being the crackling loaves as they cool (you may need to turn up your volume). I wanted to show as much as I could the step by step process. Some of the pics of the turning stage were shot in different lighting because I had to actually carry my dough with me to church and do the mid-rise folding in our church kitchen. Yeah, some people saw me and laughed--but in a very loving way.
Again, I am thankful to King Arthur Flour and their Baking Education Center for teaching me how to make these loaves at home. Now I just need to find another half day to make these where I don't have to worry about any kind of time crunch. Next time, they will be perfect. I'm so excited.

French Bread Batards
       --From The King Arthur Flour Baking Education Center

Ingredients for Poolish
Ingredients for Final Dough
Materials and Tools Needed:
For the Poolish: The night before you are going to bake your break, combine the 2 cups flour, 1 cup water, and pinch of yeast in a large bowl. Mix until blended. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Allow poolish to sit and rise for about 15 hours at room temperature. The poolish will be bubbly and batter-like when ready.

For the Dough: When the poolish is ready, add the flour, water, yeast, and salt. Stir to combine and develop a relatively stiff but sticky dough. Although it's going to be quite sticky, don't add any more flour. 
Turn dough out onto a clean, dry, smooth work surface. Using your bench knife, cut off chunks of dough and scrape into a pile. Keep chopping until your pile of dough has been chopped and is all piled up. Gather the dough into a ball using your bench knife and cut into it again as you did before. Do this a total of 5-6 times. You will notice the dough gaining strength and not being so sticky. (See video below.)
Once dough has been cut 5-6 times, use both your hands like lobster claws, to pick up the dough at the top and bottom with only your fingers. Give the dough a quarter turn in your hands, slap the dough onto the work surface and fold the dough in half away from you. (See video below.) Repeat until dough is strong and almost resists being folded. The gluten is as developed as it's going to get at this point.
Place dough back into the mixing bowl, seam side down, and cover again with plastic wrap. Allow dough to rise for 45 minutes. Then turn the dough out onto a clean work surface. Pick up the top of the dough, stretch about 5-6 inches and fold about 2/3 of the way down the blob of dough. Repeat with bottom and left and right sides of dough. Place folded dough back into the bowl, seam side down, cover with plastic wrap again, and allow to rise another 45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Either line an upside down baking sheet or pizza peal with parchment, or sprinkle a pizza peal with semolina flour. Set aside.
Turn risen dough out onto clean work surface and cut dough in half. Pre-form dough by pulling the edges up to meet in the middle, forming a sort of pouch that's pinched in the middle. Allow pouches to rest for about 20 minutes.
Working with one pouch of dough at a time, gently pull the top of the dough out and fold about 1/3 of the way down the dough. Gently pat the folded portion. Take the little nubby arms on the left and right of your fold, gently pull away from the ball of dough and fold to the middle, overlapping the arms. Gently pat the folded portion again. Pick dough up at the top and start rolling it down, sort of folding about halfway down the length of remaining dough (see pics below), and with the heal of your hand, press the seam you just created.  Roll/fold dough again to the bottom edge and seal by pressing firmly with the heals of your hands. Gently roll dough log, seam side down, back and forth to lengthen slightly and to taper the ends.
Place formed loaves onto prepared baking sheet/pizza peal, keeping them as far apart as you reasonably can.
Allow loaves to rise, covered, until puffy and pillowy, about 30-60 minutes. 
While dough rises, heat a medium pan of water to boiling and place a cast-iron skillet in the bottom of your oven, or on the bottom rack, whatever will be under the baking surface.
When loaves have risen, slash each one lengthwise with a razor. Slide loaves onto the baking stone and quickly (and carefully) pour boiling water into the hot cast iron skillet. Close the oven door. 
Bake at 500 degrees for 5 minutes and then turn the temperature down to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Bake for another 25 to 30 minutes, or until loaves are crusty and well-browned.
Remove loaves from oven, transfer to cooling racks, and allow to cool before attempting to slice.
Makes two good sized loaves

The poolish just stirred and ready to sit overnight
After an overnight sit the poolish is bubbly and smells amazing.
I really should have done the poolish in this bowl, but I forgot about bowl conservation. Next time.
At the KAF Baking Education Center we learned to use these handy plastic bowl scrapers to mix the dough.

Cutting the dough before kneading

Kneading the dough

I also forgot that I didn't have to wash the bowl between mixing and rising. Makes a nicer pic though.

Dough 45 minutes into rising. Ready to turn out and fold.

Fold in all sides. I really don't think it matters in what order. Someone correct me if I'm mistaken.

Done folding, ready to cover and rise another 45 minutes.

Darn plastic wrap make me tear my beautiful dough.

One half of the dough is pre-formed in its pouch shape. I can't even tell you how great this dough feels on my fingers.

Starting to form the actual loaf now

Arms folded in and patted slightly

Rolled over and pressed with heal of hand. Kind of hard to see.

Rolled and sealed, just need to taper the ends

Formed loaves ready to be transferred to the parchment lined baking sheet

Batards are risen and ready for slashing.

Ta da! (I forgot to take a pic after slashing because I was so excited about getting these loaves into the oven.)
I hope you can hear the crackling of the crust as it cools. Amazing.

The crumb is a little tight, but delicious nonetheless.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Garlic Knots and a Few Final Thoughts on My KAF Adventure

Garlic Knots, all garlicky and buttery

In case you haven't read the five previous posts here, I just got back today from Norwich, Vermont, where I got to spend four days learning how to bake bread at the King Arthur Flour Baking Education Center. I'm trying to sum it all up in my brain, but there is just so much.
Let me start by saying that the French batards we made yesterday were so incredible, and I'm so excited to try them at home, that I asked my 13-year-old son to start a poolish for me as I Face Timed him last night. As soon as the words, "Measure two cups of flour" came out of my mouth, I remembered that I'd used the very last of my flour right before my trip to make some focaccia for said son to enjoy while I was gone. Shoot. So, I decided to try something that I haven't baked yet in order to practice some of the techniques I learned. 
Then when I was sharing with my Des Moines baking buddy Sherri about what I learned, I realized that I should probably sum up some of the major things I learned, if for no other reason, so I don't forget them. So, here are my baking take-aways, in no particular order:
  • Mixing and kneading yeast bread dough by hand is a complete sensory experience--the smells of the yeast and the baking bread, the sight of the dough rising in the bowl and the loaf rising in the oven, the sound of the dough slapping on the counter top as you knead it by hand, the stages of the dough texture culminating in a smooth, cool formed loaf that feels just like a baby's bottom, and then, of course, the taste of freshly baked bread--the chewiness, the crunch of a French bread crust, the distinct slightly salty flavor of wheat bread. It really is one of the best sensory experiences out there.
  • Kneading yeast dough, for the most part, requires a gentle touch. When you man-handle dough too much and exert too much force when kneading, it breaks the delicate skin/gluten fibers, making it sticky, which makes you think you need to add more flour--but most of the time you do NOT need to add that extra flour. Mind blown.
  • It's a good idea to place your ingredients in the bowl in little piles so that you can double check to make sure you have it all in there. And dang it, I've already messed up again. I forgot the salt in these beautiful rolls. Grrr.
  • The instructors at KAF had us use their plastic bowl scraper to do all of our mixing. I've had four of these handy dandy little tools in my drawer for a while, and now I know that I can use them for more than just scraping a bowl.
  • You don't necessarily need to grease the bowl you let your dough rise in, and you can let the dough rise in the same bowl you used to mix the dough.
  • I kind of already knew this, but you don't really need to use water that feels warm. The warmer the water the faster that the dough will rise. Yeast will die, though, at 140 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  • There is this fascinating formula for getting your dough to the perfect temperature. I will only use it for French bread, though, I think. That reminds me, I should start that poolish tonight.
  • Pre-forming your dough is vital to getting a good rise and shape to your finished loaf. It helps build structure and you want the outside of the loaf to be tight.
  • When scoring a loaf you need to use quick motions to cut the dough correctly and effectively (I still need to practice this one).
I know there are more bits of knowledge tucked away in my brain, but those are the ones I have access to at this moment. Onto the Garlic Knots recipe!

Garlic Knots
    --Adapted from

  • 3 cups King Arthur Unbleached All Purpose Flour
  • 1/4 cup Baker's Special Dry Milk or 6 tablespoons nonfat dry milk
  • 1/4 cup mashed potato flakes
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 4 teaspoons Pizza Dough Flavor (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup water (if you live in a dry climate, add 1-2 tablespoons water)
  •  1/4 cup butter
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 2-3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese (optional)
In a large mixing bowl, add the flour, dry milk, mashed potato flakes, sugar, salt, yeast, and pizza dough flavor. With a spoon or plastic bowl scraper, mix all of the dry ingredients. Add the olive oil and water. Mix with a spoon, silicone spatula, or plastic bowl scraper until all dry ingredients are incorporated with the liquid and dough starts to feel strong.
Turn out onto a clean flat surface. With a bench knife, cut 2-3 inch pieces of the dough off and scrape into a pile. Repeat 6-8 times. Pile the dough up. With your fingertips and thumbs, pick the dough up at the top and the bottom, give a quarter turn, slap it down, and fold away from you. Repeat this over and over until the dough is very strong and hard to fold over. The dough won't get super smooth.
Place dough ball back into the mixing bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside and allow to rise until doubled, about one hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Turn the risen dough out and cut into 16 equal portions. I preformed my dough pieces by flattening each piece and very carefully rolling lengthwise, sealing the edge with the side of my hand/finger. Once all pieces are preformed, roll each to an 11-inch length. Tie each dough rope into a knot, leaving one end slightly longer. Wrap the longer end around to meet the shorter end, and pinch to seal. Arrange knot on the parchment lined pan so that the pinched ends are on the bottom. Repeat will all ropes.
Cover knots with plastic wrap and set aside to rise for about 45 minutes, or until puffy. While dough rises, melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic and parsley flakes. Turn heat off and allow to sit until knots are baked.
When knots have risen, bake at 350 degrees for 15-18 minutes. (I slide mine onto a baking stone to bake in order to get the bottoms crisp.)
Remove from oven and brush or spoon the garlic butter on top of each roll. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, if desired.
Makes 16 delectable rolls

The Baker's Special Dry Milk makes a tender and fluffy bread. The Pizza Dough Flavor is just a yummy addition.

When using the bowl scraper, you actually use it to cut the ingredients together to incorporate.
This is the beginning of the kneading process: cutting chunks of dough repeatedly to develop gluten strands & webs.
Dough is ready to be covered for the first rise.
Hmmm. Maybe I didn't let it completely double. I was on a timeline. Had to pick 13 year old up from wrestling practice.
Dough cut into 16 pieces, ready to pre-shape.
Dough is pre-shaped and ready to be rolled into ropes.
Forming the knots
The garlic butter
The knots have risen.

Knots are dressed up now with their garlic gems.

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