Thick Chewy Pizza Dough

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As most of you know, pizza is the ultimate food for me! I can seriously eat this everyday, for every meal. Well….maybe. Anyhoos. I honestly do miss Paisanos Pizza in Hong Kong- I used to walk by Central and grab a slice for equivalent of around $3 per slice and it was huge (yea yea…I know that usually prompts “that’s what she said”…) but BACK to topic: It was literally the size of my face! And the best part? They deliver 24” pizzas. That’s right. You literally have to tilt the pizza 60 degrees in order to get it through the doorway!

I’m always on the quest for find the pizza and I think I hit it close to home with Bibo– it is amazing: thin, chewy and the crust is to die for!! Obviously I wanted to replicate this and in my search, I found this thick chewy pizza dough recipe. I must admit, it’s not close to Bibo’s but it’s different from my previous recipe which was more of a thin crispy crust. This one is a thick crust and oh-so-chewy 🙂

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Thick & Chewy Pizza Dough: (adapted from www.recipes.com)
Recipe makes 1 GIANT (oh yeaaaaa) pizza crust

Ingredients:
– 2 1/4 tablespoons instant yeast
– 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
– 1 1/2 cups warm water
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 2 tablespoons olive oil
– 3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour

Directions:
1. In a large bowl, mix flour, salt, sugar and yeast.
2. Add in warm water and oil.
3. Mix dough and knead (I used my KA mixer: mix on speed 2 with your dough hook for around 6 – 7 minutes). Feel free to add a bit more flour if dough is too sticky or more water if the dough is too dry.
4. Place the dough into a well oiled bowl, cling wrap and cover with towel. Let the dough rise until doubled; this should take about 1 hour.
5. Once it has risen, punch down the dough, and form a tight ball. Allow the dough to relax for a minute before rolling out.
6. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. If you are baking the dough on a pizza stone, you may place your toppings on the dough, and bake immediately. If you are baking your pizza in a pan, lightly oil the pan, and let the dough rise for 15 or 20 minutes before topping and baking it.
7. Top pizza with desired ingredients!
8. Brush crust with olive oil (I totally missed this step!)
9. Bake pizza until cheese and crust are golden brown, about 15 to 20 minutes.

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C’est la vie ♥ French Baguette

I know, I know…I’m on a TOTAL bread making phase. Can’t help myself, but I’ve been going through these like a mad woman. I knew I’ve always loved bread but now I know I loooovvveeee homemade bread. Period.

I miss my girls in HK desperately and yes, even though Vancouver is lovely, and it is home, I can’t help but still feel like I’m settling in! Why? Well, there’s been all these wedding planning going on and our place isn’t ready until next May = lots and I mean lots of time for baking in the meantime.

I still think about the amazing trip in July to Paris with the ladies and although I cannot wait to everyone in December, I’m definitely craving those baguettes we had in the morning at Paul’s, even though most mornings was spent with baguette in paper bag, munching and speed-walking through the streets to shop 🙂

Here’s my first go at baking me a good loaf of French Baguette.

French Baguette (adapted from www.AllRecipes.com)

Ingredients:
– 2 1/2 cups bread flour (note: using all-purpose flour still turned out great!)
– 1 tablespoon white sugar
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
– 1 cup water, warm

For Brushing Top:
– 1 egg yolk
– 1 tablespoon water

Directions:
1. Place all dry ingredients (i.e. flour, sugar, salt and yeast) into a large mixing bowl.
2. Create dam in middle and pour in warm water.
3. Using a dough hook (speed 2), mix until incorporated and mixture forms a dough. Then continue to mix for around 5 minutes (i.e. around 7 – 10 minutes if taking out, flouring clean surface and kneading by hand)
4. Grease a bowl and transfer dough and turn to coat with oil. Cling wrap it and put it in a damp place to rise.
5. Be patient- let is rise for around 1 hour (sometimes 30 minutes will do the trick) and it will have doubled in size. Dough is ready if indentation remains when touched.
6. Punch down dough. On a lightly floured surface, roll into a 16×12 inch rectangle. Cut dough in half, creating two 8×12 inch rectangles. Roll up each half of dough tightly, beginning at 12 inch side, pounding out any air bubbles as you go. Roll gently back and forth to taper end. Place 3 inches apart on a greased cookie sheet. Make deep diagonal slashes across loaves every 2 inches, or make one lengthwise slash on each loaf.
7. Cover again with cling wrap and let it rise in a warm place for 30 to 40 minutes, or until it has doubled again.
8. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
9. Mix egg yolk with 1 tablespoon water and brush over the tops of the loaves.
10. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Ok. Verdict? THIS IS FREAKING GOOD STUFF. Next time, I’ll alter it by adding olives 🙂

FYI Nutritional Info
Per Baguette (above recipe makes 2 large baguettes):
572.5 calories, 2g fat, 116g carbs, 20g protein, 5g fibre

Flax Seed Lovin’: Flaxseed & Pumpkin Seed Bread

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Is it just me or is flax seed showing up EVERYWHERE? I used to always see low-fat or healthy on boxes and assume they are healthy, but now (thanks to my new KA mixer…) I’d much rather make my own and actually smell freshly baked bread in my oven and know that it’s preservatives-free 🙂

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I intend to keep this going as a trend and I must admit that shopping at grocery stores in the baked goods section has not been the same experience ever since I started baking my own breads! Now, I get inspiration from what I see that is good and try to find recipes and alter it to my liking. I love how I can add more honey if I want something sweeter or adjust the amounts and varieties of seeds, nuts and dried fruits that I want to incorporate into the bread. But beware: Once you start to get a hold of baking your own bread…you’ll never go back!

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Flax Seed and Pumpkin Seed Bread (adapted from www.RachelCooks.com)
Recipe makes one hearty loaf

Ingredients:
– 3 cups all-purpose flour
*original recipe called for bread flour mix with whole wheat flour but I found using all-purpose flour does an equally amazing job!
– 1 teaspoon salt
– 1 teaspoon instant dry yeast
– 1/4 cup flax seeds (amount can be adjusted to your liking)
– 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds
– 1 1/3 cups of warm water
* Tip: I usually pour hot water, then add my margarine/butter straight from the fridge along with honey and stir so that it melts and the temperature of the water goes to warm 🙂
– 2 tablespoons unsalted margarine, softened
– 3 tablespoons honey
*if you have none on hand, you can use granulated sugar instead- just be sure to add it to the dry ingredients if you are, since honey will be added with the wet ingredients

Directions:
1. Put all dry ingredients (i.e. flour, salt, yeast, flax seed, pumpkin seeds) into a large mixing bowl.
2. Mix the water, margarine and honey together in a separate small bowl. Create a dam in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients.
3. Start the mix the ingredients together (mix with your dough hook at speed 2 with your KA mixer) until it forms a dough. Feel free to add more flour if the dough is too wet or more water if there is still flour at the bottom of the mixing bowl.
4. Continue to knead on speed 2 for around 5 minutes (if you are making by hand, then flour a clean surface and knead for around 7 – 10 minutes).
5. Grease a bowl (I used canola oil since I personally found it rises faster than greasing with margarine) and transfer dough. Turn the dough to cover with oil then cover with cling wrap and let it rise for around 1 – 2 hours in a warm place (tip: for fastest rising, cover bowl with cling wrap and cover with dry kitchen towel and put into an unheated oven to rise).
6. After time to rise, the dough should have doubled in size.
7. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
8. Punch down (to let out the air), take it out and form into a loaf and place it into a greased loaf pan (tip: instead of kneading and rolling, I simply hold it in the air and stretch it into a long rectangle, then I roll it, tuck in the ends and place it in the greased loaf pan).
9. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes.

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Eat hot fresh out of the oven as is or with filling as it makes a great sandwich bread. This bread keeps soft for at least 3 days (as there is no milk added to the recipe) and I’ve not had it left on the counter for more than 3 days time 🙂

ENJOY!

FYI Nutritional Info
Per Serving (based on 14 hearty sliced slices)
172.5 calories, 5.1g fat, 24.6g carb, 5.4g pro, 2.4g fibre

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Light, Fluffy Bread :)

My eye has finally recovered from laser surgery!! So, this means back to the kitchen to do some baking…ahhhhh 🙂 Since it’s been a bit of cake overdose lately, I decided to try something a bit different: BREAD MAKING. Yes. There’s emphasis there since I always just thought, bread, bleh. Didn’t know much skill was required but I was so wrong!! Bread making is a skill that perfects with trial and error and it tests your patience like you won’t believe. Let’s just say bread making is not for those that likes that wait anxiously by the oven and wait for your baked goods to rise.


Why? Bread requires yeast and yeast takes time to proof. But when it does proof, it SERIOUSLY proofs and the texture of the risen dough is so cute. It’s like poking into the Pilsbury Dough Boy…hehehe. But wait. It’s NOT just a one time wait. To make it the lightest and fluffiest ever (aside from heavy duty kneading), you need to punch out the air and re-proof again.

The end result though? SO MUCH WORTH THE WAIT! Let’s just say I won’t be going back to store-bought breads again…hehehe.

Here’s the holy grail recipe I found and I altered the ingredients a bit to suit the ingredients I had readily on hand:

Light Fluffy Bread (Source: Adapted from SmittenKitchen.com)
Recipe makes one two-pound loaf or two nicely-sized half-pound loaves 🙂

Ingredients:
– 4 cups all purpose flour (you can always use a mixture of bread flour or whole-wheat flour as the original recipe called for)
– 1 1/2 tablespoons honey (or granulated sugar or any other sweetener of choice!)
– 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
– 1/2 cup milk (or 3 tablespoons of powdered milk as original recipe called for)
– 1 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
– 2 tablespoons margarine (or shortening or unsalted butter as original recipe called for)
– 1 1/4 cups water, warm (don’t make it boiling hot as this will kill the yeast!)

Directions:
1. Stir together the flour, sugar (if using/ if using honey, wait!), salt, powdered milk (again if using. if using fresh milk, wait again!) and yeast in a large mixing bowl (or in bowl of an electric mixer).
2. In another bowl, combine the margarine (or shortening/ butter), honey (if using), and water. Stir and then add into the flour mixture. Stir by hand (or highly recommend to mix on low speed with the paddle attachment with an electric mixer) until the ingredients form a sticky ball. If there is still flour in the bottom of the bowl, dribble in additional water. The dough should feel soft and supple. It is better for it to be a little too soft than to be too stiff and tough.
3. Sprinkle flour onto the counter and transfer the dough to the counter to knead (or again highly recommended, mix on medium speed with the dough hook). Add more flour if needed to make a firm, supple dough that is slightly tacky but not sticky. Kneading by hand should take around 10 minutes and if by electric mixture around 6 minutes.
4. Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Then cover the bowl with plastic wrap and to ensure maximum proof, cover with a towel and put in a warm, air-sealed spot (I put mines in an unheated oven!).
5. Ferment at room temperature for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size (see…..this is were the “being patient part” kicks in)
6. Remove the dough from the bowl and punch out the air. Then press is by hand into a loaf shape. Since I didn’t have a loaf pan, I just stretched it to a rectangle then rolled it to resemble a round loaf. If you have a loaf pan and want the perfect look, the original recipe suggests: Press it by hand into a rectangle about 3/4 inch thick, 6 inches wide, and 8 to 10 inches long. Form it into a loaf by working from the short side of the dough, rolling up the length of the dough one section at a time, pinching the crease with each rotation to strengthen the surface tension. It will spread wider as you roll it. Pinch the final seam closed with the back edge of your hand or with your thumbs.
7. Place the loaf in a lightly oiled 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 inch bread pan OR as I did on a greased, parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Mist the top with spray oil and loosely cover with plastic wrap.
8. Proof for the second time (be patient- it’s worth it!) for approximately 60 – 90 minutes (I achieved a good proof at around 60 minutes).
9. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and back on the middle rack for 35 minutes (original recipe called for a total of 45 minutes to 1 hour, but I found 35 minutes ideal for a light loaf with a slightly chewy texture which I love). Rotate the pan 180 degrees for even baking in the middle of the baking time (i.e. around 15 minutes into baking). The top should be slightly browned and sound hollow when thumped on the bottom.
10. When the bread is finished, remove it immediately and cool a bit then DIG IN!!! Original recipe asks you to wait 1 – 2 hours before cutting, but I couldn’t resist….:)

Cure to a Hangover? More Wine: White Wine Pizza

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Okay, now aside from all the healthy baking, let’s also not forget to take into consideration the guy’s POV. My guy here is fan of all things oily, buttery and fatty. MOISTEN WITH FATNESS would really sum it up.

So as requested, dinner tonight will be a hearty pizza. I’m personally not a fan of deep-pan pizza or anything too greasy (although it does seem to cure hangovers…ahem*) so I’m making a simple Buffalo Mozzarella and Tomatoes Pizza =)

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I’ve researched around and there are many different types of pizza dough recipes avail but seems the most traditional Italian chefs always add white wine instead of just water (aka Mario Batali, although I’ve yet to try his new restaurant LUPA since I’ve heard mixed reviews but note to self to try the pizza there…!) So I’ve used a white wine pizza dough recipe for tonight and sneakily subbed in 1/3 cup of whole-wheat flour into the recipe in hopes that my guy won’t notice! Anything with whole-wheat or looks slightly too healthy causes him to cringe FYI.

Buffalo Mozzarella & Tomatoes Pizza (adapted from: Everyday Exotic from www.foodnetwork.com)
This recipe serves 4

Ingredients

Pizza Dough
– 3 1/4 cups all purpose flour, plus extra for dusting (feel free to make it half-half with whole-wheat flour for a healthier version)
– 2 teaspoons instant yeast (since I only had dry active yeast, just do the simple conversion: 1 tsp instant to 1 1/4 tsp active dry)
– 1 tablespoon salt
– 1 tablespoon sugar
– 1 cup warm water
– 1/4 cup dry white wine at room temperature
– 3 tablespoons olive oil

Directions:

  1. Combine flour, yeast, salt and sugar in large bowl.
  2. Make a well and add wet ingredients: warm water, wine, olive oil.
  3. Stir until the dough comes together. Then you will need to get down and dirty with your fingers!
  4. Lightly flour a work surface and turn out the dough to knead until it is smooth and elastic (around 5 minutes)
  5. Split the dough into balls (size to your liking depending on how big you want to make the pizzas!); lightly oil a large bowl with 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil. Place the balls in, cover with plastic wrap and place near a warm dry spot to rise for 1 hour.
  6. Remove balls of dough from bowl after it has had time to rise then punch down to release air and with it again with plastic wrap to reserve when ready to assemble. Note: any remaining dough can be simply placed into a clean plastic resealable bag in the fridge or freezer for future use!)

Buffalo Mozzarella & Tomato Pizza:

Ingredients:

  • Flour and cornmeal (optional as I just used flour) for dusting
  • Pizza dough already made
  • 1 cup whole canned tomatoes, crushed with hands (note: I would suggest to crush these then lay them on the pizza since too much juices may make the pizza a soggy one!)
  • 1 ball buffalo mozzarella, drained from water
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup basil, leaves torn (I had none avail! So cheated and used dry oregano & thyme as substitutes…horrible, I know. I tried but the market nearby was completely out!)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (around 232 degrees C).
  2. Flour a clean dry working surface and roll out pizza dough to 1/4 inch thick (can go thinner if you want thin crust pizza!)
  3. Dust a large cutting board with flour and cornmeal (again, optional) and transfer rolled dough on top.
  4. Scatter tomatoes over pizza dough leaving an inch around the edges of crust. Tear pieces of buffalo mozzarella and place on pizza. Place olive oil in a small bowl and brust edges of dough with it.
  5. Then slide the pizza into the oven and bake until crust is slightly golden and cheese has melted, approximately 10 minutes.
  6. Garnish pizza with torn basil leaves (or in my case, dry oregano & thyme), slice & serve!

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I also made some simple meatballs. I just combine minced beef, an egg, oregano, fennel, garlic, salt & peppered it. Didn’t have breadcrumbs so used almond flour instead to hold it all together! Simmered these babies in a basic tomato sauce…with a bit of white wine for a kick for around 30 minutes and there you have it!

This pizza dough recipe is amazing. Crisp on the outside, chewy inside. I am now officially IN LOVE with mozzarella balls! It’s a soft gooey goodness……

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What’s next? Sit down, pour yourself a glass of wine and it’s feasting time! Foot massage to follow….Ahhhh….I’m starting to like Tuesdays =)

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