Thursday, February 08, 2007

Whole Wheat Pizza Crust

A common dinner for Lorrie and myself is a couple of individual pizzas. I'll get a package of flatbreads from the store and a couple of toppings to put on them. Flatbreads on the pan, toppings on the flatbread, oven, bake, pizza. Pretty simple but tastes great. The past couple of weekends I've been creating my own flatbreads for the pizzas. The recipe I'm using is based on a whole wheat pizza recipe in the King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking cookbook. Honestly, I could tell you I researched the recipes and chose this one because of so-and-so reason but really I chose the recipe because it didn't use pre-ferments or need to sit overnight. The usual ingredients for our pizzas are garlic, olive oil, spinach (wilted in a hot pan first), sliced tomato, and provolone cheese.

Whole Wheat Pizza Crust
based on the Herbed Whole Wheat Pizza with Mushrooms and Spinach on page 134-136 of the King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking: Delicious Recipes Using Nutritious Whole Grains cookbook.

Makes 2 12-inch rounds

3 3/4 cups (15 oz.) white whole wheat flour (I used the King Arthur Organic Whole Wheat)
1 Tbls. + 1 1/2 tsp. instant yeast
1 1/2 cups (12 oz) cool water
1 Tbls. honey
1 Tbls. olive oil
2 tsp. salt
1 Tbls. dried oregano
1 Tbls. dried basil
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

In a medium bowl put 2 cups of the flour and all of the yeast. Measure out the water and add to that the honey and stir until it's combined. Add the water-honey mixture to the flour and yeast and mix thoroughly. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let sit for an hour.

After the hour, remove the plastic wrap and add in the remaining ingredients and mix. Remove the dough from the bowl and knead on a lightly floured surface for 5 minutes or so. Stop kneading when the dough is shiny and elastic yet soft. Have a baker's bench knife handy to help if the dough sticks because you don't want to over-flour this. Put the dough back into the bowl, cover, and let sit for another 90 minutes. After about 90 minutes the dough should have doubled in size.

Once this second rise is done, turn the dough out onto the lightly floured surface. Divide the dough in half and form each half into a round. Cover these rounds and let them rest for another 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375° F (with a baking stone if that is what you use). Roll each round out to a 12-inch round and put on your pan, baking sheet, or parchment paper. Use a fork to prick the crust all over (if you look at the first picture you will see the dough puffed up; I missed this step the first time through). If you want a traditional end crust, roll up the edges. Bake the crusts individually for 10 minutes and remove from the oven.

At this point you have 2 crusts for use. Use immediately or let cool completely and freeze. When you add your toppings and bake, bake the pizza at 425° F.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Lemon Squares

On nights when temperatures are below zero, it's hard not to let the mind wander and think about warmer times. When I do this, my thoughts drift towards the approaching spring season. My first round of golf for the year may only be a month a way, time to start hitting the driving ranges. Garden planning should begin now. It won't be totally pitch black when I leave work. While I like the colors and hues of winter, when I think of spring I start thinking of bright colors like yellow. This is the reason when I saw this recipe for lemon bars, I thought of spring.

Lemon Bars
from the Spring 2007 issue of The Baker's Companion magazine, page 47.

1 1/2 cups (6 1/4 oz.) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (1 oz.) powdered sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter

4 large eggs
1 1/4 cups (8 3/4 oz.) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (4 oz.) lemon juice
1/4 cup (1 oz.) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbls. lemon zest (2 lemons worth) or 1/2 tsp. lemon oil
powdered sugar for sprinkling

While preheating the oven to 350° F, grease a 9x9 inch (or similarly dimensioned) pan.

Make the crust first. In a medium-size bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and salt and mix thoroughly. Cut in the butter using your fingers or a pastry blender. Mix until the crumbs are coarse. Put the crumbs in the pan and press to form the crust. Bake this for 20 minutes. It's done when the color is a light brown.

For the topping, cream the eggs, sugar (granulated), and lemon juice until it's smooth. Fold in the flour, lemon zest or oil, and salt. Pour this over the crust once it is finished with the pre-bake and bake for another 25 minutes. These bars are done when the topping appears set. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan. Just before serving, sprinkle with powdered sugar.

A tip for one of Lorrie's coworkers: Use a cookie cutter or a stencil to give the sprinkled powdered sugar a shape.