November 03, 2009

Bread, pizza - fast and delicious / kale salad

Last night I attended a book talk by Zoë François who is on tour promoting her book, "Healthy Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, which she co-wrote with Jeff Hertzberg. I'm not such a big bread eater but I do love to bake bread. I like to experiment with different flours and methods to create beautiful breads with great texture and flavor. I've made naturally fermented breads (no yeast or starter) as well as made my own sourdough starter to create deli-style rye breads. I've made bagels, pita, tortillas, soft pretzels and naan. I usually make my own pizza dough, and sometimes I make crackers. I've made bread that took days to make from start to finish, and I once even hand-built a large ceramic bowl to mix large batches of dough in because I couldn't find one I liked.

Now I'm having fun making bread that takes almost no effort or time, á la Zoë and Jeff's technique. As I 've mentioned in a previous post, a fairly wet dough is mixed up right in a storage container, and left two hours to rest. A hunk of it is quickly shaped, rested and baked on a stone, and the remaining dough is stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks so it's ready to use anytime. As the dough ages, it develops more character and sourdough flavor. When the dough is used up, a new batch can be made in the container without washing it first, to jump start the sourdough qualities that give the bread its character.

I've got a bread (pictured above) on the counter, and dough for one remaining loaf stored in the refrigerator. A few days before the loaf above was baked, dough from the same batch was used for pizza. I made these things using the master recipe from the book mentioned above. I've been making whole grain breads using this method for quite a while but I had been treating dough meant for pizza a little differently - using more flour in the mix for a firmer dough. It's a lot easier to get the pizza from the peel to the stone when it's got some body. I used the wetter dough for the pizza (shown below), and had some difficulties which I meant to ask Zoë about last night but completely forgot. I sprinkled extra flour when I formed the crust, and lots of cornmeal on the peel so the pizza would slide onto the stone, but when I tried to transfer the pizza to the hot stone in my oven, it wouldn't go without leaving the toppings behind! I finally gave up and cajoled it into a pan.

It seemed to me the extra moisture in the dough steamed the crust in the pan, making the texture a bit more spongy than the crispy, chewy effect I look for in my crust. It was still good, but not perfect. I thought about next time putting the sauce and cheese on the crust, sliding it onto the stone, then quickly adding the bulkier toppings while the pizza is in the oven. I don't like this idea because for one thing, it sounds dangerous, and for another, the oven heat will escape, and the oven should be hot when the pizza first goes in. I've got some more experimenting to do or questions to ask. Or maybe I should just wait for Zoë and Jeff's next book to come out. They're working on one about pizza and flatbread!

The pizza, by the way, had a very thin layer of Follow Your Heart mozzarella topped by a sprinkle of Daiya mozzarella. This combination produced the best tasting pizza I've had in quite a while. The real stars of the topping, though, were broccoli slices and mushrooms. To go with the pizza we had a salad of massaged lacinato kale, shredded carrot, baby salad greens and edamame. The kale was very thinly sliced (roll into a thick wad and slice crosswise) and rubbed with olive oil and a little salt. The edamame was sprinkled with umeboshi vinegar and left at room temperature for a half hour to marinate. The salad was dressed with olive oil and lemon.

You can visit to get more information about making artisan no-knead breads. It really does take about five minutes to mix it up — but there's still the resting and rising that any bread must go through. The big difference is the dough waiting in the refrigerator to be baked into the next great loaf.

note: The seeds on this loaf are black mustard, caraway, dill, and crushed red pepper. The mustard seed was surprisingly delicious in this combination!


  1. Those bread looks absolutely amazing! Great texture. Fantastic that you were able to meet the author of that book.

  2. Wow--you have quite the impressive bread making resume! I am intrigued by the naturally fermented breads...I am off to google that one!


  3. Mihl,
    I love going to book talks and meeting the authors. I know you love to bake - you should try one of these breads! I'd like to see what variations you come up with.

    The naturally fermented breads (only wild yeast from the air) are really flavorful. Try it and let me know how it turns out.

  4. That was one stubborn pizza! I love the broccoli and mushroom topping. I also love that you sprinkled mustard seed and red pepper on your loaf.

  5. Your bread looks and sounds fantastic! I'm so impressed with your experiment. I've never made bread before and I always think that it's too hard to give it a try. And your kale salad looks amazing! I love kale, thanks for sharing.
    p.s. Thank you for stopping by my blog, I really appreciate your time:)

  6. Diann,
    Stubborn pizza + hot oven = crazy cook!
    I was a little worried about the mustard seed but it turned out great.

    Thanks! I stop by your blog a lot. Thanks for coming to mine. :)

  7. That book sounds great--making bread in 5 minutes a day is my kind of bread! And it looks delicious (as does that pizza). Your kale salad is also appealing--I need to branch out from my raw kale and avocado already!

  8. Ricki,
    It's true that it takes five minutes to form the loaf, but the bread still has to rise and bake. Darn. A total of five minutes would suit me. It's awfully good, though.

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