Yep – it’s that time of the month again – time for another Kitchen Bootcamp Challenge. Jen’s choice of yeast breads had me shaking in my shoes, I will admit. Bread and I are not friends, you see.
I have kinda sorta made pita bread that were passable and recently a pizza crust that was edible but it’s not my favourite thing to do. All the better to challenge myself with, right? And who better to make the challenge recipe with than the Kitchen Bootcamp goddess herself, Jen?
Unfortunately I ran out of time to complete the challenge before I left for Philadelphia where I have been since Sunday, attending two conferences. Fortunately for me, between those conferences I had the pleasure of visiting the fabulous Jen and she forced me to insisted that I participate in the challenge under her gentle guidance. Meeting Jen for the first time was not awkward at all and it was like we had known each other forever
Jen thought it would be best to ease me back into the land of the yeast and through pizza. The fact that she had a bounty of fabulous veggies from her CSA goodies that would make great toppings made our decision easy. Plus, Jen was very convinced that pizza would be “so easy” for me. Uh huh.
And which recipe did we use? Well, since we were both so caught up in chatting, eating, photographing, walking Yellow Dog and struggling to get through our RSS Readers together (not to mention planning a trip to Hershey’s Word of Chocolate) we kinda forgot about the dough until we were about to leave her house for the afternoon. No problem, says Jen and whips out a bunch of cookbooks, effortlessly scans them and finds one she feels will be suitable (you know, for me!). I will note that we Jen did not follow the recipe exactly as apparently you simply cannot mess up when you work with yeast. Errr, yes well Jen has not seen me at work in the kitchen!!
The dough only took a few minutes to whip together in fact and Jen made me do all the work, talking me through how much flour to add, despite what recipes might say, depending on the humidity in the air etc… I learned a few good tips
We topped that with some roughly chopped artichoke hearts for a simple but really tasty pizza…
For the second pizza topping, we combined some lightly sautéed kale and garlic with this gorgeous heirloom tomato:
The pizza crust got the thumbs up from Jen’s hubby and from both of us. It was thin and crispy enough that it didn’t go soggy under the weight of the toppings and actually fairly even so there were no real doughy parts. A success that I will try to recreate at home soon, channeling some of Jen’s zen calm in the kitchen!!
Basic Pizza Dough
Adapted from The North End Italian Cookbook by Marguerite DiMino Buonopane
3/4 cup lukewarm water
1 package dry yeast
1/8 teaspoon sugar
3 cups unbleached flour (. W eused white whole-wheat flour and only used about 2.5 cups since Jen told me that it “felt right” with that amount, the weather not being so humid)
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup olive oil
vegetable oil (we used olive oil to coat the proofing bowl)
A pinch of dried oregano, basil, thyme (as you prefer)
1. Place the lukewarm water in a small bowl and sprinkle the yeast and sugar over it. Combine. Add the olive oil to the yeast mixture and mix well.
2. Combine 1 cup of flour and the salt with the dried herbs.
3. Add the 1 cup of flour to the liquid mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until well combined.
4. Add another half cup of flour and stir until combined and continue in this manner, a half cup at a time until the dough begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl. The amount of flour needed will vary, depending on how moist the dough is and on the weather; a damp or humid day will cause excess moisture
5. Keeping the dough in the bowl, knead until smooth, elastic and no longer sticky.
6. Coat a medium-sized bowl with olive oil and place the ball of dough in it, rolling to coat completely.
7. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let sit in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size, about 45- 60 minutes.
1. Preheat oven to 400F. Place pizza stone in preheating oven.
2. Roll or stretch out your dough to the size(s) you would like your pizza(s). Top with your sauces and toppings and place on parchment paper on pizza stone. Bake for about 15 minutes or until cheese is bubbling and the crust has a nice golden colour to it.