July 16, 2009

Pizza, buns, bread

The "first" pizza.
I've been on a pizza bender lately. I'm not sure if it started with a conversation I had with my son about Peter Reinhart and grilled pizza, or with an urge to eat summer-kissed vine-ripened tomatoes baked into a pie. But I've eaten pizza on three consecutive days this week so, whatever the influence, it was a powerful one!

My son Aaron and I were talking on the phone while he was in the process of making pizza dough. He was planning to take the dough to his brother's house later, to make grilled pizza for dinner. Aaron had based his dough on a recipe from "The Bread Baker's Apprentice," and it had taken two days to make. He had substituted white whole wheat flour for most of the unbleached flour in the original recipe, which led us to a discussion of Reinhart's newer book, based on whole grains. Then, because although I love Reinhart's book and recipes, I'm generally too lazy and impetuous to spend two days making bread, no matter how superior it might be, we started talking about "Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day" by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois. After a long wait, Aaron had finally reached the top of the library hold list and had this book in his possession, though he hadn't yet used it. Now this is a book title I can wrap my attitude around. Five minutes is so much more manageable than two days. I've been incorporating Hertzberg and Francois' techniques into my bread baking ever since I first ran across their book, and now that my bread machine has stopped working, I've turned to them

Buffy, hoping for a little taste of something.
All this talk of pizza and bread dough was too much. And there on the counter were two deep red, ripe tomatoes from the farmers' market that I could use to top a pizza. I quickly popped the tomatoes into a drawer to keep them safe from hungry prowlers, and set upon making dough. I didn't use a recipe - just started with two cups of water and went from there. (I was basing what I did on the Artisan Bread book mentioned above.) I used about two thirds white whole wheat flour and one third unbleached white. Sometimes I use all whole grain but I was planning to sneak in a few cinnamon rolls and wanted a slightly lighter dough. I wanted to have enough dough for a pizza, a few cinnamon rolls, and a bread to be made later in the week. (The Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day technique has you storing the dough in a covered container in the refrigerator to use as needed for up to two weeks. I like to use mine within a week or so because the flavor can get a little wonky as time goes on. At first it's like sourdough bread, but eventually it starts to taste just plain weird to me. Here's a link to the basic recipe. I decreased the salt and yeast and added olive oil and agave to my pizza dough. At some point I'm going to buy the whole grain version of this book.)

Anyway, I mixed up my dough in a large bowl, kneading a little in the bowl because I like to do that when the dough gets hard to mix with a spoon. After rising and punching down a couple of times, I created a pizza with fresh tomatoes, cremini mushrooms, fresh basil from the garden, Follow Your Heart cheese and a little drizzled EVOO. I baked it on a hot pizza stone (using Peter Reinhart's directions), and the crust was excellent - both crispy and chewy. My only disappointment was the tomatoes. They just didn't have the rich, deep, tangy summer flavor I was after. But, overall, it was really good.

A whole pan of cinnamon buns. Darn.
Intending to make just three cinnamon buns with a chunk of the remaining dough, I "accidentally" ended up with a whole pan. I rolled out the dough and spread it with Earth Balance, agave, raisins and cinnamon before rolling it up, cutting it into pieces and letting it rise. Warm from the oven, tender and slightly sweet, they were so delicious.

Lunch pizza #1
The next day I still had a bad case of pizza-on-the-brain, so I decided to make an individual pizza in a 6-inch cast iron pan in the toaster oven. This time I used grape tomatoes along with the other stuff and added a few odd scraps of field roast, and the result was fabulous.

Lunch pizza #2
You'd think that would have been enough, but on the third day I once again made a small pizza, topped this time with some thin slices of toferky sausage. Then I took the remaining dough and shaped a loaf of bread, since clearly this was the only way to put a halt to my obsession. The loaf is fine-grained and springy, with a delicious, slightly sour flavor. Enough already.

Crusty loaf of bread


  1. You have me craving pizza now Andrea! This first pizza, is how I like to eat pizza. All my favourite toppings are on there. YUM!

  2. ps I had a little poodle just like that as a child, except he was black. He was called Peppy and was the sweetest natured dog you could ever meet. He used to ride about in the basket on the back of my bike in the summer and go sledging with me in the winter. He was a rare friend!

  3. Your pizza, your buns and your bread are all just gorgeous! I'm so pleased you have been playing and creating so much with the dough. Those pizzas are absolutely inspired! I know what I'll be making for dinner.

    Hope your son enjoys his dough as well!


  4. Oh man, now I've just got to make pizza... maybe this weekend? We're getting basil, and I think our first zucchini. Thanks for the nudge!

  5. Yum! There's not much better than pizza!! And awww, Buffy is too adorable!

  6. Jacqué,
    Buffy is also sweet and good-natured. We adopted her from the Humane Society when she was three and she's been nothing but gentle and loving towards us and everyone else.

    I was surprised and delighted to have you read my blog - I feel like I've been visited by a celebrity! Making bread with your method is so easy, and you've been very generous in sharing the recipe and technique on the Web. One of these days I WILL own the book!

    I've been inspired to make pizza after reading your blog, too. I wanted to use zucchini but was afraid it might be too watery, especially since I was already using fresh tomato. I should have tried it.

    I like pizza way too much. Buff is l6 and has always hated to be brushed.

  7. Those look great! I can see why buffy is waiting so patiently :)

  8. Buffy is so cute!
    I usually make pizza about 2 or 3 times a month. Sometimes I use the Reinhart recipe, but I admit I often just use the quickie recipe in VeganWAV, and it's still pretty good. Sometimes you just need pizza now, not in two days!

  9. Shelleyfish,
    Yes, now. That's my motto. And I find the biggest improvement comes with using a stone to bake the pizza.

  10. Your cinnamon bun seem really great, I'd like some! To sick to bake but not enough not to recognise really good items!

  11. Alisa,
    Buffy finally got a bit of crust!

    Hope you're feeling better. I'm starting to think I should go downstairs right now and make some dough so we can have cinnamon rolls for breakfast!

  12. that is quite a bender. I'm so lazy when it comes to making bread.

    I hope that buffy had a chance to steal some pizza or at least a cinnamon roll.

  13. Bethany,
    That was a bender I wouldn't mind going on again. Even lazy people (like myself) can make this bread because it requires very little effort.


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