Friday Night Pizza

Pizza slice
Now that the weather is starting to warm up a bit- I even saw some blue sky today! I’m starting to think about quick, light meals for (hopefully) sunny evenings. A homemade pizza is just the thing.

The version I prefer is a thin based one that I’ve been baking for a couple of years now. It’s easy to do and the dough freezes well. Take it out of the freezer in the morning, leave in the fridge in a bowl and it’ll be ready to bake by tea time. I’ve even defrosted it in the microwave when I forgot about it and neither the dough, nor us, seemed any the worse. You can find the full recipe here.

As long as I’ve got some mozzarella in the fridge and tinned tomatoes in the cupboard, I can rustle up something tasty in about 20 mins and I get to chose exactly the toppings I want. Today it was lots of crispy peppers and salty Italian ham, with a smattering of pesto.

Give it a go – once you’ve made your own pizza you won’t even think of getting another pre prepared one from your local supermarket. Roll on summer….

Baguette Torment

Baguettes

I love baguettes. I love their crunch, their colour, their texture. Pretty much everything really. I think that they are the ideal bread for a light lunch on a Saturday with a tasty slab of pâté or cheese.

But baking the things is proving to be more problematic. They are proving to be my baking nemesis. They seem really straightforward – a white bread dough just shaped differently. How hard can that be…?

“Very” in my case. My first goes didn’t rise at all – probably because I followed some advice that you could add dried yeast straight to flour in the same way you can easy blend. This may work in a hot bakery but not in my kitchen where the yeast granules just remained resolutely undissolved, studded throughout the dough like seeds. As a result the bread itself didn’t rise at all. Poor Long Suffering Husband still had a go at eating it though…

So I switched back to easy blend. Now it rose but I had a different issue. I was proving and baking on a silicon baguette tray but whilst I got a good shape only the top of the bread would colour as if the tray were blocking the heat somehow.

I tried taking them out of the tray and putting them onto a metal one part way through. Whilst this gave me colour and crispness, the bread had stuck through the holes and it tore as I tried to remove them.

This is my latest effort. (I’m currently using Richard Bertinet’s recipe in Dough.)

Still not great but the potential is there.

Baguettes

You can tell from this shot there’s quite a bit of oven spring but the bread is tearing at the side and expanding that way rather than through the slashes. I think that this is partly a result of it adhering itself quite so firmly to the tray.

Baguette

The insides look good but I need to sort the shaping. As you can see its incurred quite a bit of damage as a result of my attempts to get it out of the tray. I think a linen proofing cloth is called for for my next attempt.

Monday Bread

White Bread

The bread I normally bake on Mondays is a white loaf ideal for sandwiches for the rest of the week. No fancy flavours here. No need to leave it overnight to prove – this is a bread you can make in a few hours with no pre-planning required.

Mix 450g of strong white bread flour with 50g wholemeal bread flour. Add a teaspoon of fast action yeast and a teaspoon of salt. Then mix in about 350g of water, more if you think that it needs it. Pull together in the bowl into a rough dough.

Knead using whatever method you prefer. I sometimes add a bit more water at this stage if the dough seems too dry – just dip your fingers in water and drizzle it over the dough. Once the dough is soft and stretchy (you should be able to stretch it until its nearly see through) leave to rise at room temperature.

After about 2 hours it should look like this.

White bread - after

Remove from the bowl. Flatten and shape. I use a proving basket as I like ridged pattern but the bread doesn’t need this level of support. Coat in rye flour and leave to prove. You can tell its ready if, when you press it with the pad of your finger, it returns slowly to shape. If it bounces straight back it needs longer. This will probably be about a 40-60 minutes.

Preheat your oven to its highest temperature with a roasting tin in the bottom. When your bread is ready, slash it with a knife and put it in the oven. Quickly pour boiling water into the roasting tray and bake for 10min. Turn the oven down to 220C and give it another 25-30 min until its baked. I use my probe thermometer to tell when it’s ready (I’ve never been very good a judging “hollowness”!). I take it out of the oven when its got to 200F inside (yes the F is right – it was from an American site and I find it easier to remember)

And this should be the result.white bread - crumb 2

The crumb is just right for our lunchtime sandwiches.
white bread - crumb

So there you have it – Monday Bread. What do you think?