Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Calzone That Almost Was

Or... "How I Made a Great Big Bread Stick."

Wednesday of last week, I decided that homemade bread stuffed with pizza toppings would be delicious for dinner. Due to my allergy, I would not be putting any cheese inside, but still I had hopes of a calzone-like dinner creation.

I took out a lump of homemade bread dough I had in the fridge, and added pizza sauce and pepperoni slices to the middle. I shaped the loaf, and generously sprinkled pizza seasoning on top.

Later, taking it out of the oven, it smelled delicious.

I found that some pepperoni had made its way to the surface out through the slashes I made in the top of the loaf, and had mostly burnt. The sauce seemed to have done the same thing.

I sliced into the loaf, still warm -- only to find that there was no pocket of goodness inside at all. Under the unusual crust, the bread was completely normal. I poured myself a small bowl of pizza sauce to dip it in, and enjoyed it for the large breadstick that it was. I guess I should have used more stuff? And put it nearer the bottom of the loaf?

In any case, I have now made up some pizza dough, so next time I have this type of craving, I can just make myself a proper pizza.

Here's hoping your kitchen creations are more successful than this!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Lazy Day Bread Baking

Hello again!

I baked bread again from the batch of bread dough I mixed up about a week ago according to the directions in Artisan Bread In Five Minutes a Day. It is so easy, if you haven't tried it, you really should.

Here is a picture of the food grade plastic bucket I keep the dough in. It just sits in the fridge, doin' its thing, until I'm ready to bake.

You can see that I just tore about half of it off, and the rest is going back into the fridge for another day.

Here is a close-up of the dough resting. You can see it is on a cookie sheet -- not a baking tray with an edge on it, because I will be sliding it directly into the oven from here (I do not have a pizza peel which is used for this by people who are really serious about bread baking).

Underneath you may also notice that I have used a generous amount of cornmeal to keep it from sticking. It sits out for 20 minutes, then I preheat the oven to 450* and I set the timer for another 20 minutes - then I dust the top with a little flour and cut some little slits in the top. Then it goes into the oven.

Here is a really crummy picture of the bread while it is baking. The purpose of this ugly photo is to show that the bread is baking directly on a pizza stone which was preheated, and that below is a broiler pan with water in it, to create steam inside the oven. This really helps the bread have the moisture on the crust it needs during that last little rise, called "oven spring." (Don't worry, your crust will still be crisp when you are done baking.)

Here is the final loaf after 50 minutes in the oven. While I took this picture, the crust was crackling beautifully (like the sound of Rice Crispies with milk on them - but so much more satisfying when it comes from a loaf of fresh baked bread).

Happy Baking!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Starting off the New Year Right

Hello everyone in Bloggerland! At my friend Jaynie's urging, I am here to write a new post. (But it will have to be quick because I need to leave for work in a few minutes!)

Here is a picture of my favorite cookie I made over the holidays:
It is a huge sugar cookie with left-over pecan rocha strussle on top. Yum! Bryan convinced me to make the cookie so large because I was despairing of ever being done rolling and baking all that dough. Note to self: next year, do a half-batch of sugar cookies!

And here is my puppy dog, celebrating the new year:

I hope you are all having a good start to your new year. I have been keeping my sink shiny, and reading a lot more (both in the Bible and other books). Ooh... and I have been playing my piano. So I have been keeping myself busy and doing things that I enjoy.

This past weekend I baked my first loaf of bread for the cold season (I can't believe I've waited this long!) and I have some more dough in the fridge, so I will be baking more soon. I will try to snap a few pictures and post them here.

Until then... happy baking!