Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Southwestern Pizza-Daring Bakers

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Pizza is great choice for October, my year anniversary with the Daring Bakers'. Rosa of Rosa's Yummy Yums, host for this month's baking event, remarked that no Daring Baker challenge to date has focused on how to make real pizza with an added challenge of tossing the dough like the pros. But the even bigger challenge was not just tossing the pizza dough, but photographing the event! Well, I tried talking myself out of even taking part in the challenge. I couldn't imagine how I would shoot the photo. My remote cord is not long enough and to set the scene up using the 12 second timer on my camera would require my running back and forth with the dough in my hand. Which is exactly what I did. What the heck! My tossing pizza properly has a long way to go before it's perfect, but I did it.

Southwestern food is my absolute favorite cuisine and I have used this sauce and topping many times when I have made homemade pizza for the family. It's easy and very inexpensive to make.

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

Makes 4 pizza crusts

4 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour or all-purpose flour, chilled
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1/4 cup olive oil
1 3/4 cups water, ice cold
1 tablespoon sugar
Semolina or cornmeal for dusting

To Sauce

1 can diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 cup chunky salsa, mild, medium or spicy
1 garlic clove, minced
1/3 cups chopped red onion
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt

Combine ingredients in a bowl. Refrigerate until you are ready to assemble the pizzas.

To Finish

2 ripe avocados, pitted and cut into thin slices
1 cup sour cream, (reduced fat works good)
1/2 pound grated Pepper Jack cheese, or Monterey Jack cheese
Fresh or bottled jalapeno peppers, sliced for garnish, (optional)

Day One
Mix together the flour, salt and instant yeast in a big bowl. Add the oil, sugar and cold water and mix well to form a sticky ball of dough, either with a wooden spoon, or with the paddle attachment of your mixer, on low speed. On a clean, lightly floured surface, knead 5-7 minutes, until the dough is smooth. If too dry, add a small amount of water; if too wet, add a little more flour. To knead with an electric mixer, switch to dough hook and knead for 5-7 minutes on medium speed. When finished kneading by either method, the dough should be springy, elastic and a little sticky.

Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and with a dough scraper, cut into 4 equal pieces, 6 pieces, for smaller pizzas. Sprinkle a little flour over the dough. With floured hands, round each piece of dough into a ball. Place on a parchment lined jelly roll pan. Cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator overnight or up to three days. If desired, you can freeze the dough balls in a oil filmed plastic bag for up to 3 months. The day before you plan to make the pizza, transfer desired dough balls to refrigerator.

Day Two

Two hours before you plan to eat the pizza, remove desired number of dough balls from the refrigerator. Place the dough balls on a lightly floured surface. Dust your hands with flour and lightly press the dough into disks, about 1/2 inch thick and 5 inches in diameter. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for two hours.

At least 45 minutes before baking the pizza, place a baking stone on the lower third of the oven. Preheat oven at highest temperature. Sprinkle a baker's peel or the back of a jelly roll pan with cornmeal or semolina. Press the dough into any shape you want, letting rest for a few minutes between pressing. If you desire to toss the dough, read this tip.

When the dough is the shape you want, transfer carefully to the peel or jelly roll pan, making sure there is enough semolina/cornmeal on it to allow dough to slide into the oven once it is topped.

To Assemble the Pizzas

Divide the salsa among the four pizzas, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Lay on the avocado slices, then spoon on sour cream. Sprinkle pizzas with the grated cheese and top with the optional jalapeno slices. Slide pizzas onto baking stone in oven. Bake for about 10 minutes or until crust is lightly browned and topping is bubbly. My highest oven temperature is 500°, if your oven has a higher or lower temperature, adjust baking times.

Southwestern Pizza

See Southwestern Pizza on Key Ingredient.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Chocolate-Chocolate Cupcakes-Tuesdays with Dorie

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Halloween has sneaked up on me this year, so after this post, I'm going to run out and buy a ton of treats because I get a ton of kids, all ages who trick or treat in my neighborhood. I love the little ones the most. The girls are so cute in their angel or princess costumes and the boys in their favorite football player, cowboy or ghoul costume. The Chocolate-Chocolate cupcakes are my only stab, no pun intended, at preparing for Halloween. Also, I am a little late posting today as my Internet was down so I've already seen the very expertly decorated cupcakes that Clara from iheartfood4thought chose for her pick this TWD edition.

I made six large cupcakes instead of the 12 standard size. The larger ones seem to photograph better than the smaller ones. The recipe made a scant 6, however, so a couple of mine were a bit on the small side. Dorie suggested filling them with marshmallow fluff which I did, but tinted the fluff orange. However, when I broke into the cupcake, the fluff seemed to have melded in with the cupcake. The lemon meringue cupcakes I made in a previous post had lemon curd piped in the center and I expected the marshmallow fluff to look the same. Maybe there's a "trick" for my "treat" there that I haven't figured out.

Clara has the recipe on her blog if you don't have the book "Baking From My Home to Yours", but also go over to the TWD site to see how everyone else decorated their Chocolate-Chocolate Cupcakes. See you for the next TWD edition when the group bakes Rugelach, chosen by Piggy from Piggy's Cooking Journal.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

No Tuesdays with Dorie-"Walking in Memphis"

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Just got back from Winston-Salem Sunday visiting one daughter and now off to Memphis, Tennessee with another daughter, so no time for Dorie this week. Perfect for Fall, the Pumpkin Muffins that Kelly over at Sounding My Barbaric Gulp chose look so tasty in Dorie's book"Baking From My Home to Yours". Be sure and check the TWD site for all the posts on this great little muffin.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Tuesdays with Dorie-Lenox Almond Biscotti-Revised

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I began making biscotti last year when I saw detailed instructions in "The Baker's Companion" published by the King Arthur Flour Company. There were three basic biscotti recipes, Traditional Italian Biscotti, Classic Italian Biscotti and American-Style Biscotti. The two Italian biscotti recipes were very similar, having very little fat, however, the American-Style biscotti had unsalted butter in the ingredients. The addition of the unsalted butter made a lighter texture biscotti with a delicate crunch whereas the two very similar Italian versions had the traditional hard texture, perfect for dunking in a cup of coffee or glass of wine.

Several things stood out in the step by step instructions: The egg and sugar mixture must be beaten until lemony colored and thick enough to drop in a ribbon from the beaters. When shaping the log, a wet dough scraper along with wet fingers helps mold the log into a neat shape. After the first bake, the log is allowed to cool for about 15 minutes and then spritzed lightly with water from a spray bottle to soften the log for ease of slicing, especially if your biscotti has dried fruits and nuts included. Lastly, standing the sliced biscotti upright for the second bake allows the air to circulate around the slices so they will brown evenly.

Because I wanted my biscotti to be more Italian traditional hard crunch, I decided to make the biscotti without the addition of the unsalted butter. I use cornmeal in a lot of my yeast breads and love the flavor and texture it lends to the finished product, so kept the flour/cornmeal proportions the same as Dorie's recipe. Not using the butter enabled me to decrease the baking powder from 1 1/2 teaspoons to 1/2 teaspoon. My other playing around was to add the zest from an orange to the sugar before beating it with the eggs. To the finished dough, instead of the almonds, I added 3/4 cup chopped walnuts and 1 cup mixed dried berries.

One day when I bake biscotti again, I will use the butter and maybe I will like it, too. The great thing about baking biscotti is that you can come up with so many different combinations of flavors and textures. Another plus is that for the cost of one expensive coffee shop biscotti, you can make a whole batch.

Head over to TWD to check out the Lenox Almond Biscotti and see what other bakers have done with this very flexible biscotti recipe. Thanks to Gretchen of Canela & Comino for choosing such a great recipe for the Tuesdays with Dorie baking group.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Caramel Peanut Topped Brownie Cake-Tuesdays with Dorie

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After a week long hiatus, this is my second post for today. This week's TWD is a luscious Caramel-Peanut-Topped Brownie chosen by Tammy of weetreatsbytammy. I found the cake to be delicious. Actually, I have a fair share of the caramel and the cake batter on the recipe page even though I've been trying very hard to keep "Baking From My Home to Your" free of blobs of whatever I've been baking. Dorie suggested using the pages of the book to jot down changes one makes in ingredients and cooking times, etc, but I'm sure stains and such don't qualify as meaningful notations.

I used two 4-inch springform pans, fully intending on topping just one and freezing the other cake, the there was more of the topping than I realized. The cake baked exactly 40 minutes and cooled to room temperature before being place back into the springform pan. When making the caramel for the topping, carefully pay attention to color of the caramel as it turns amber. When it is light amber, I would remove it from the heat and swirl it around the bottom of the pan as it will darken somewhat off the heat. 15 minutes may be enough time for that to happen. The caramel can go from beautiful to scorched in a matter of seconds.

Setting time for the caramel peanut topping is about 20 minutes, but my topping could have set longer as the peanuts kept going South after I took it out of the springform pan.

All in all, a great dessert. Check out TWD for more of the Caramel-Peanut-Topped Brownie delights.

Rustic Jalapeno Cheese and Lager Grissini

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These skinny little bread sticks may look bland and unassuming, but actually the addition of jalapeno cheese gives it a little bit of a kick, not too much though and the lager enhances the yeast flavor. Cornmeal adds a rustic quality.I learned more about lager which I visited my local bottle shop to buy the lager for this edition of Source Challenge #34 Lager, hosted by Cookthink. The major difference between the two types of beer, lager and ale is the different brewing process. Ale is brewed from malted barley, using a top fermenting yeast which gives the dark richer flavor whereas lager uses a bottom fermenting process. Lager is lighter in color and flavor than ale. Source:Wiki. Lager and Lime is a favorite British beer combination using Rose's Lime juice and lager. Lager is also used in many marinades and is very compatible with poultry dishes.

A bread machine facilitates the dough process.

Rustic Jalapeno Cheese and Lager Grissini

2 teaspoons bread machine yeast or active dry yeast
2 1/4 cups bread flour
1/2 cup coarse ground cornmeal
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons sugar
3/4 cup grated jalapeno cheese
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup lager, room temperature or slightly warm ( I used Samuel Adams, but any lager will do)

With a Bread Machine
Place all the ingredients in the bread machine container in the order suggested by the manufacturer of your bread machine, process on the dough cycle. After it has mixed and kneaded some, check to see if dough has formed a nice ball, slightly tacky, but not sticky. Adjust with flour or more lager, if necessary.

With An Electric Mixer.
Place yeast, bread flour, cornmeal, salt, and sugar in the bowl of a heavy duty electric mixer. Using a paddle attachment, stir until ingredients are combined. Add olive oil and lager and mix until dough is formed.. Mix in jalapeno cheese. If dough is too dry, add a little more lager, if sticky, add a little more flour. Either switch to the kneading attachment for your mixer and knead for about 5 minutes until dough is smooth and elastic, or transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and hand knead for 5-7 minutes. Let rise until doubled, about 1-1 1/2 hours. Transfer dough to lightly oiled surface and divide into two pieces. Let rest 10 minutes and then follow directions below to shape and cut the dough into strips to make the grissini.
Preheat oven to 325°

When the dough cycle is complete, transfer dough to a lightly oiled surface and divide into two pieces. Let rest 10 minutes. Work with one piece of dough at a time. Roll the dough to a 15"x8" rectangle about 1/4 inch thick. Using a pizza wheel, cut dough lengthwise into 10 pieces about 1/2 inch wide. Sprinkle with cumin seeds, if desired. Place on a lightly oiled baking sheet, cover loosely with lightly oiled wax paper and let rise about 30 minutes or until puffy. Repeat with second piece of dough.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer to cooling rack.

Makes about 20 long skinny breadsticks.

Rustic Jalapeno Cheese and Lager Grissini

See Rustic Jalapeno Cheese and Lager Grissini on Key Ingredient.

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