Pizza dough, dough & doh! - a love story

[Breadmaking is] one of those almost hypnotic businesses, like a dance from some ancient ceremony. It leaves you filled with one of the world’s sweetest smells... there is no chiropractic treatment, no Yoga exercise, no hour of meditation in a music-throbbing chapel that will leave you emptier of bad thoughts than this homely ceremony of making bread.
— M.F.K. Fisher, The Art of Eating: 50th Anniversary Edition

Since many of you are new friends (welcome, friends!!!), I have a bit of a confession to make. I. LOVE. PIZZA. I could eat pizza every day. The cheesier the better. I've made many a pizza in the past and have turned out some pretty decent pies. White dough, whole wheat dough, doesn't matter but I have always been in awe of (read: salivated over) those delicious pizza doughs full of air bubbles and charred crust, topped with super bubbly cheese. I have always wanted wood oven-esque pizza to come out of my home oven and while I was sure it was possible I had no idea how to achieve it.

One glorious afternoon a weeks ago, as if a sign from the pizza gods, I received an e-mail from the wonderful people at King Arthur Flour with a link to their blog post titled: The Best Pizza You’ll Ever Make: Artisan Perfection in your Home Oven. I eagerly clicked the link right away and devoured their post. They truly make the process of making incredible pizza dough seem not only easy but totally achievable and dare I say slightly romantic? Now, before you go clicking away from this post of some psycho saying that making pizza dough can be romantic, hear me out. Bread doughs in general are magical. You mix a few simple ingredients (that you probably already have in your cupboards) and the end result is something that has risen, is full of life and delicious. Not to mention, have you ever touched freshly risen dough? It is so supple and gorgeous that no matter how many times I make my own dough, it literally takes my breath away! There is a definite element of romance that comes out of making your own dough, regardless of how simple or complex the recipe is. Back on topic now!

I will be honest and say that I read the article a few times over because I really couldn't believe that it was this simple to make incredible pizzas like this at home. When a recipe looks this easy, the only thing I could do was try it out for myself. The only thing is... the dough needs a substantial amount of time to rise. The recipe calls for up to 72 hours! Yup, you read that right.... 72 HOURS! Now, I did not have 72 hours between reading the article and when I had intended on consuming the delicious pie. I had 48 hours and damn it, I was convinced it would still be amazing.

I set to work with my kitchen scale and some flour, yeast, salt, sugar and water. That is it. This recipe, as with most quality recipes, gives you your measurements in weights as opposed to cup measurements. This really does point you in the direction that baking is truly a science and using a kitchen scale to measure will give you much more accuracy than using measuring cups. Accuracy is science's friend!  My dough came together with a few stirs with a wooden spoon (I mixed mine until the dough came away from the sides of the bowl) and was ready to begin rising within about 5 minutes after being covered in plastic wrap. All I had left to do was let it sit at room temp to hang out for the next few days.

 
 

Living in a basement apartment, there are sometimes drafts that come in through various spots in my home, so I actually let the dough rise in my oven for 2 days... this point will become very important a week or so after the initial recipe attempt. Keep reading for more on that disaster!

When I got home from work the next day, I was very eager to see what my little dough ball had turned into. Well, the little dough ball had grown (I was such a proud mama!) into this...

 
 

Note how chill and relaxed the dough looks? That's because the yeast and sugar are becoming friends and are discovering their feelings for each other. Believe me friends, they have feelings for each other! The dough, at this point, had a much more wet texture than when I originally mixed it. Back into the cold oven for one more day of rising.

Again, I came home and eagerly pulled the dough out to see what it looked like. Here is what I found:

 
 

Look at all of those air bubbles... Those bubbles were going to turn into pockets in my dough and I squealed with anticipation. I turned the dough out onto my floured counter and followed the recipe's instructions for a few simple turns of the dough (there is actually a gif in the article that shows you how to properly achieve this technique which was sooooo helpful!). I then put the dough (now 2 balls) back into individual bowls to rest for a 40 minutes longer while I preheated my oven. The recipe calls for your oven to be preheated to 550F however my darling KitchenAid only reaches 500F and that's what I used. My Pampered Chef pizza stone (LOVE my stoneware) also preheated in the oven as I prepped my toppings. I decided for my first attempt at this lovely dough that I was going to keep my toppings simple: tomatoes, basil and mozzarella.

When the oven was scorching hot and the dough was ready, I gingerly placed my dough back on a floured surface to shape it. The key here is to make sure that you DO NOT touch the outer edges of the dough. If you do, the pizza fairy will come and deflate your dough and put a hex on you that will have no future dough work out properly ever again! This is a fact and it happened to a friend of a friend of mine. When the dough has been shaped, transfer it to a sheet of parchment paper. Parchment is especially recommended if you don't have a pizza peel or if you are new to working with pizza dough. Sadly, I do not have a pizza peel so parchment and I are great friends. I loaded my parchment on to a large cutting board which helped me transfer it into the oven later. Now back to the toppings.

 
 

Notice the untouched edges? I fear the pizza fairy!! Make sure to cut your parchment down to size as it may burn because the pizza actually bakes on broil. After a few short minutes, this is what comes out of your oven, friends. Remember the relationship that was developing between the yeast and sugar? Well this is what happens when they finally hook up and have a baby!!!

Look at that crust! It's perfectly crusty and chewy and full of air!! After seeing and eating this pizza, I was hooked, so much so that I made the dough twice more that week. That's right... 3 times of making dough that takes days to rise. I cannot tell you how worth every single second of time this dough is. It has the air pockets just like sourdough bread and because it rises for quite some time, it develops flavours that you will NEVER find in a quick dough recipe nor a grocery store dough. Dare I say, this is the best pizza dough of my life. The article didn't lie! As a side note, the recipe is also great to double and triple. I have done both and had no issues whatsoever!

I also tried a barbecue chicken pizza - bbq sauce, cooked chicken breast, quickly sautéed red onions and cilantro - which was also life changing!!!

 

Are you drooling? I definitely was.

But now, not every story has a happy ending. Pizza making has taught me 2 very valuable life lessons in these last few weeks. Lesson #1 - Remember a few paragraphs ago I mentioned that I let the pizza rise in the cold oven? Well, it's a funny thing when you do that but then in a rush to get an appetizer ready for your dinner guests who are set to arrive any second and you turn on the oven to 400F so you can bake a brie.... It's funny until you smell something burning and then realize that the dough that was rising in a nice cold oven is now sitting somewhere that is about 375F. You yank the bowl out of the oven to discover that not only has the dough started cooking but the plastic wrap on top of it has now baked INTO the dough and is making awkward snapping sounds like an elastic band. This was my first DOH moment!

Lesson #2 - The oven preheats at 500F for 40 minutes and THEN sits on broil while the pizza bakes. Needless to say, your oven is HOT AS SIN! This also includes the inside of the oven door.... Life Lesson #2 - Do NOT, under any circumstances, let your knuckle touch the oven door while trying to pull out a pizza. The burn will be painful, will turn a gross shade a brown and then will scar. Also, do not partake in the hot tub after aquafit right after having burned yourself.... It will hurt like the dickens!

And there you have it folks, my love story of some simple ingredients that came out of the cupboard to make some delicious pizza. Go make this dough, go make this dough, go make this dough! You will not regret it (so long as you don't piss off the pizza fairy or forget about my life lessons learned!

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend and a relatively painless Monday!

xoxo

T

Sunday Breakfast is the Key to an Amazing Weekend!

This is what a typical Sunday morning looks like in my tiny apartment:

Yup. Cookbooks, magazines, a notebook, usually my calendar, my ipad (with Pinterest open) and some form of hot beverage in one of the many (42) mugs that I own (and collect obsessively!). Oh! And there's usually a very large furball of a cat who is trying to sprawl out across EVERYTHING. This beast is Mo, my fur baby, the love of my life and best snuggle buddy ever!  As I write this post, Mo is nestled up against my thigh, snoring and 'supervising' as he always does!

Typically, I spend at least one morning of my weekend (usually a Sunday) planning my meals for the week around activities/obligations and this puts a smile on my face. I am a planner (have I mentioned that I went to school for Event Planning aka anal retentive, list-making heaven!?!?). I feel better knowing a) what I need to buy when I go grocery shopping b) that I won't have to think about figuring out what to make for dinner and c) to have a game plan. I've overcome the inevitable 'What if you don't actually feel like cooking that meal that night?' with a simple attitude of do what feels right. If I come home from work exhausted and feel like cereal for dinner, so be it. I also love swapping out meal nights based on cravings that day which helps make things more interesting as well. But enough about meal planning!

Truth be told, I didn't really feel like menu planning. I wanted to stay in my PJs all day and just do nothing but watch TV and chill out. This was fine and dandy until about 10:30 this morning when I started to get a little hungry. There is something magical about a Sunday morning breakfast or brunch. It makes the day seem so full of promise to do whatever it is on this incredible day where you don't have to run off to work!!!

On this particular morning of promise, I was craving apple pancakes. I've been thinking about these for a while now for a few reasons: 1) I have a few apples sitting in my fridge, 2) they seem like a quick breakfast 3) they seem like something I could enjoy as someone who doesn't actually enjoy pancakes. I know, I know!! Who doesn't like pancakes, right? Well, here's the thing and this may be a bit of a shocker. Are you sitting down? I don't like eating eggs. And the few times that I have tried to enjoy a pancake has always been with very eggy tasting cakes, so I've steered clear! Miraculously, a few weeks ago, my Mum's boyfriend made a batch of apple pancakes that were spot on. More apple than anything but they were soft, fluffy and had very little evidence of eggs! After finding a few recipes that seemed to be able to meet my craving, I embarked on the mission this morning.

I settled on a recipe for Apple Pie Pancakes from the lovely blog, Averie Cooks. Let's just take a minute to pay proper respect to Averie's  incredibly beautiful blog! (thank you!!). Averie's recipe was simple and seemed that it would be exactly what I was craving. So I went to work. Prep was all of 10-12 minutes tops and then it was simply up to the cooking of these little apple filled beauties in a hot pan. Once ready, I topped mine with some yummy maple syrup (I didn't end up making the vanilla maple syrup but I'm sure it would be phenomenal) and I went to town. Oh sweet baby lord, these little numbers were perfect. My first few bites were au naturel (no syrup, just naked cakes) and I was worried that they weren't sweet enough (you'll note the recipe has no sugar in it). But, the syrup helped sweeten them up and made them heavenly. I made extras and have frozen them for quick breakfasts over the next little while, though I fear they won't last very long!

If you are looking for a quick, delicious and healthy breakfast, these are definitely for you. I've actually made them a few times since that initial Sunday morning and have even made a few more changes to the recipe to up the healthy quotient even more:

  • I've swapped out half of the white flour for whole wheat flour (I do this often as a while back I accidentally bought a 10kg bag of what I thought was white flour but was in fact whole wheat flour and I will be damned if that bag goes to waste!!)
  • I've mixed up the types of apples I use - granny smith, macintosh, ambrosia, pink lady... you name it, you can use it!
  • I've added a few tablespoons of chia seeds to the dry ingredients.

All of these changes, while small, have made a few phenomenal batches of pancakes. Hopefully I don't have to remind you that tomorrow is Sunday.... if you have nothing planned, take a look around your cupboards and whip up some of these bad boys.  You will not regret it!! Please let me know if you make them, how they turn out and if you have any questions.

Happy Weekend friends!

Tamara

xo

Back in the kitchen and we couldn't be happier!!!

After more than a 2 year hiatus from the world of blogging, I am absolutely ecstatic to be back in the saddle and writing again. Blogging truly became an additional means of therapy for me beyond spending time in the kitchen. It allowed me the privilege to let you in on some of the insider adventures that were going on in my kitchen, in my recipe endeavours or just things going on in my life.

It has always surprised me when I am catching up with friends and they mention my old blog, The Novice Goddess Kitchen. It blows me away even more so when I hear a) how many of them were actually reading what I thought was mundane dribble and b) how many of them wondered why I stopped. The Novice Goddess Kitchen was my first adventure in blogging and it was a bit of an addiction to say the least. I loved writing posts and enjoyed learning who and where my readers were located. I was thrilled to have made some connections with other bloggers because no one can ever have too many friends. I learned many a thing from building the blog in terms of design and content as well.

Unfortunately, or fortunately, my blog was filled with large photos which meant that eventually I ran out of storage space. While debating whether to proceed with buying my blogging domain, or upgrades to my existing account, it dawned on me that maybe this was the time to spend some time on (finally!) getting the actual catering business off the ground!

Which brings us to where we are at this very moment. A fresh start with friends, both returning readers and hopefully some new ones too. We want this space to be a fun place to share what's going on in the Be Delicious kitchen but also what's going on with us personally, both in and out of our own kitchens! We want to interact with you and to truly have you as part of the Be Delicious family. Think of this as a chat session with the fam around the kitchen table after a long day! We want to know what you're cooking/baking/making, if you've tried something we've made and how it turned out, and whatever else you'd like to share with us.

This last year has been a very exciting time in the Be Delicious world. The business was registered at the end of last December which really put things into perspective for me. While I continue to plug away at some of the background documentation for the business, registering the company was a HUGE leap that really made things very real. After a few weeks of working with the amazing Louise of The Autumn Rabbit, our logo was born and it couldn't fit the business's personality (or ours!) any better! (Thanks Louise for understanding all of my non-graphic-designer yammering on!!!!!). We have many fun things on the horizon and we can't wait to share them all with you!

Welcome to the Be Delicious Blog (which I'm certain will simply be called the BeDe blog eventually - depending on how late at night your blogger is writing!) We are so happy that you're here to share this adventure with us!

Thanks for joining us on this adventure! We look forward to getting to know all of you!!! 

Happy Cooking! 

td