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Pizza, buns, bread

Posted Jul 16 2009 10:18pm

The "first" pizza.

I've been on a pizza bender lately. I'm not sure if it started with a conversation I had with my son about Peter Reinhart and grilled pizza, or with an urge to eat summer-kissed vine-ripened tomatoes baked into a pie. But I've eaten pizza on three consecutive days this week so, whatever the influence, it was a powerful one!

My son Aaron and I were talking on the phone while he was in the process of making pizza dough. He was planning to take the dough to his brother's house later, to make grilled pizza for dinner. Aaron had based his dough on a recipe from "The Bread Baker's Apprentice," and it had taken two days to make. He had substituted white whole wheat flour for most of the unbleached flour in the original recipe, which led us to a discussion of Reinhart's newer book, based on whole grains. Then, because although I love Reinhart's book and recipes, I'm generally too lazy and impetuous to spend two days making bread, no matter how superior it might be, we started talking about "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day" by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois. After a long wait, Aaron had finally reached the top of the library hold list and had this book in his possession, though he hadn't yet used it. Now this is a book title I can wrap my attitude around. Five minutes is so much more manageable than two days. I've been incorporating Hertzberg and Francois' techniques into my bread baking ever since I first ran across their book, and now that my bread machine has stopped working, I've turned to them

Buffy, hoping for a little taste of something.

All this talk of pizza and bread dough was too much. And there on the counter were two deep red, ripe tomatoes from the farmers' market that I could use to top a pizza. I quickly popped the tomatoes into a drawer to keep them safe from hungry prowlers, and set upon making dough. I didn't use a recipe - just started with two cups of water and went from there. (I was basing what I did on the Artisan Bread book mentioned above.) I used about two thirds white whole wheat flour and one third unbleached white. Sometimes I use all whole grain but I was planning to sneak in a few cinnamon rolls and wanted a slightly lighter dough. I wanted to have enough dough for a pizza, a few cinnamon rolls, and a bread to be made later in the week. (The Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day technique has you storing the dough in a covered container in the refrigerator to use as needed for up to two weeks. I like to use mine within a week or so because the flavor can get a little wonky as time goes on. At first it's like sourdough bread, but eventually it starts to taste just plain weird to me. Here's a link to the basic recipe. I decreased the salt and yeast and added olive oil and agave to my pizza dough. At some point I'm going to buy the whole grain version of this book.)

Anyway, I mixed up my dough in a large bowl, kneading a little in the bowl because I like to do that when the dough gets hard to mix with a spoon. After rising and punching down a couple of times, I created a pizza with fresh tomatoes, cremini mushrooms, fresh basil from the garden, Follow Your Heart cheese and a little drizzled EVOO. I baked it on a hot pizza stone (using Peter Reinhart's directions), and the crust was excellent - both crispy and chewy. My only disappointment was the tomatoes. They just didn't have the rich, deep, tangy summer flavor I was after. But, overall, it was really good.

A whole pan of cinnamon buns. Darn.

Intending to make just three cinnamon buns with a chunk of the remaining dough, I "accidentally" ended up with a whole pan. I rolled out the dough and spread it with Earth Balance, agave, raisins and cinnamon before rolling it up, cutting it into pieces and letting it rise. Warm from the oven, tender and slightly sweet, they were so delicious.

Lunch pizza #1

The next day I still had a bad case of pizza-on-the-brain, so I decided to make an individual pizza in a 6-inch cast iron pan in the toaster oven. This time I used grape tomatoes along with the other stuff and added a few odd scraps of field roast, and the result was fabulous.

Lunch pizza #2

You'd think that would have been enough, but on the third day I once again made a small pizza, topped this time with some thin slices of toferky sausage. Then I took the remaining dough and shaped a loaf of bread, since clearly this was the only way to put a halt to my obsession. The loaf is fine-grained and springy, with a delicious, slightly sour flavor. Enough already.

Crusty loaf of bread
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