Tag Archives: yeast

Pizza: Day One

I’m making the no-knead pizza dough, but I’m not sure why, since kneading is one of the rewarding parts of making any bread dough. I can see, however, that one benefit is that you do 1/3 of the work on one day, giving you a break from some of the kitchen chaos that goes with any cooking project. So, here the dough sits until 24 hours from now when it will go into two pans, rise, and be dressed for dinner:


Foolproof Pan Pizza Dough

  • Servings: 2 10-inch pizzas
  • Difficulty: easy
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This is the “Foolproof Pan Pizza” dough recipe you can find here: http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2013/01/foolproof-pan-pizza-recipe.html

I followed the weight/volume measurements just to see if that works out. It sure seems like a kind of dry dough, but we’ll see what happens. The ingredients and steps below are verbatim from the original site. Go there to see images and the rest of the author’s steps.

400 grams (14 ounces, about 2 1/2 cups) bread flour

10 grams (.35 ounces, about 2 teaspoons) kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling

4 grams (.15 ounces, about 1 teaspoon) instant yeast

275 grams (9.5 ounces, about 1 cup plus 3 tablespoons) water

8 grams (.25 ounces, about 2 teaspoons) extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to coat pans and drizzle

  1. Combine flour, salt, yeast, water, and oil in a large bowl. Mix with hands or a wooden spoon until no dry flour remains. The bowl should be at least 4 to 6 times to volume of the dough to account for rising.
  2. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap, making sure that edges are well-sealed, then let rest on the countertop for at least 8 hours and up to 24. Dough should rise dramatically and fill bowl.

Tomorrow, I’m making the pizza, but not like the ones at Serious Eats. I’m making white pizza with roasted garlic, arugula, sausage and peppers.

Chili Dogs with Homemade Whole Wheat Buns

No, it’s not time for a summer picnic. In fact we’re in the midst of a pretty big chill, although I heard we will warm up today into the 30s or 40s. So the blanket of snow is not going anywhere, but I just had a taste for something different, and while hot dogs might seem like summer fare, baking bread on a cold winter day is a great way to keep warm. Maybe it seems like a lot of work to go to—making your own chili sauce and buns—for the lowly hot dog, but we do love a good hot dog around here.

The chili sauce I have told you about before, and today I tweaked it a bit by making it with venison, making a smaller amount, and changing a few ingredients, so I’ll give you those exact steps, but if you want the original, go here: https://kitchenportfolio.wordpress.com/2014/07/20/hot-dog-sauce/

Hot Dog Sauce with Venison

  • Servings: about 4 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
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1 lb ground venison, browned

1 cup onion, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground cloves

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 teaspoons paprika (mine was smoked)

1 cup ketchup

1/2 cup water

2 tablespoons flour mixed with 1/2 cup water for thickening

  1. Brown the venison over medium heat with a little olive or vegetable oil, if it is very lean. I’d be surprised if it needs to be drained, but if you’re using beef, drain it. Add the onion and garlic, stirring until they begin to soften.
  2. Add the seasonings, ketchup and water, stirring to combine. Cover and simmer for 1 hour.
  3. Stir in the flour and water mixture and simmer for about another 15-20 minutes, until thickened.


I found a wonderful bun recipe at Simple Bites, picked partly because the images don’t look perfect—I appreciate  when people put their stuff out there without it looking like it was professionally photographed and when the food itself looks real. I also picked it because it uses all whole wheat flour, instead of a mix of white and wheat. I made a few changes to the recipe, mostly because I had different ingredients on hand. My whole wheat flour was neither organic nor bread flour—it was just King Arthur® 100% Whole Wheat. I didn’t have any buttermilk, either, so I soured some whole milk with a little vinegar. And I didn’t have any whole cane sugar, so I just used white sugar.  Other than that, I followed the recipe and it makes a very nice-handling dough that is easy to shape, without the extra flour suggested in the recipe.

See the original recipe here: Soft Whole Wheat Hot Dog Buns

Whole Wheat Hot Dog Buns

  • Servings: 8 buns
  • Difficulty: easy
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Preheat oven to 400°

Grease a 9″ x 13″ baking pan

1 tablespoon active dry yeast

1 tablespoon sugar

3 tablespoons warm water

1 cup soured milk (add 1 tablespoon vinegar to one cup of milk) or buttermilk

1 large egg

2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

As needed: 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, for shaping (I really didn’t need any)

1 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons butter, room temperature, plus 1 tablespoon, melted

Make Dough

  1. Stir yeast, sugar, and warm water in small bowl and set aside until it foams, about five minutes.
  2. Combine whole wheat flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the milk and egg, and the yeast mixture.
  3. On low speed, combine the ingredients and then let sit for 10 minutes.
  4. Scrape down the sides of the mixer as needed with a rubber spatula. Turn on mixer to low speed again and add butter, one tablespoon at a time, until it is all absorbed.
  5. Knead dough on low or a little higher for 5 minutes or until the dough looks smooth and elastic. As noted in the original, you shouldn’t add more flour—it doesn’t need it.
  6. Cover dough plastic wrap or a pastry cloth and allow to rise in a warm place for 1 hour. The dough becomes very pliable and easy to shape.

Shape and Bake Rolls

  1. Remove dough to work surface, using white flour, if needed for handling. Lightly knead into a uniform shape to more easily determine how to cut the dough uniformly.
  2. Cut the dough with a dough scraper into 8-12 pieces. I made 8 rolls, but the original recipe makes 12.
  3. Shape the pieces into long rolls of about 4-5 inches and place in two rows in greased pan. The rolls will expand on rising to touch each other and create soft sides.
  4. Cover the pan with a pastry cloth and set in a warm place for about 45 minutes to rise.
  5. Brush with the tablespoon of melted butter and bake for 20-25 minutes. Mine seemed to brown much more than the ones pictured in the original recipe, so I removed them at 20 minutes.

Cool on rack and store until ready to eat. I highly recommend this recipe for a soft roll that is made with all whole wheat flour.


Brioche Buns

I used two recipes to make these buns:

Epicurious© “Brioche Dough,” from Gourmet Magazine, 2008: http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Brioche-Dough-103412

The Clever Carrot© “Light Brioche Hamburger Buns” (baking instructions only): http://www.theclevercarrot.com/2013/05/light-brioche-hamburger-buns/

I started making these on Saturday, but then you have to chill the dough for at least 12 hours or up to three days, so I had time to think of what to do with the dough. Cinnamon rolls or sticky buns came to mind, of course, but I don’t really need to eat desserts too often, so buns for sandwiches seemed like a better idea, and really, brioche, that buttery, eggy sweet dough, makes a sandwich that’s practically a dessert, anyway. I didn’t figure out until Sunday what the sandwich filling would be, but ended up with pulled pork for a little southern barbeque meets French pastry. It was a good diplomatic pairing. We ate three buns for Sunday’s dinner, and then I cubed and froze the rest for a later bread pudding.

I used the instructions and ingredients exactly as stated in the recipe for brioche dough found on Epicurious, but I have a few suggestions (in the recipe) to make it go a little better for you.

All brioche doughs use eggs and butter, but this one uses a lot—3 eggs and 1 1/2 sticks of butter! It works, but I think you need a stand mixer to get all the butter incorporated. I would not have tried it with just a spoon and arm power.

Brioche Buns

  • Servings: 8 sandwich rolls
  • Difficulty: moderate
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Don’t plan to make and eat these on the same day unless you rise very, very early:

Mixing time about 1 hour

First rise about 2-3 hours

Resting in refrigerator minimum 12 hours or up to 3 days

Forming and second rise up to 2 hours if your dough is not brought to room temperature first

Baking 15 minutes

The recipe at Epicurious is just for dough; it does not give instructions for making buns or any other recipe. You can make this dough and then experiment with how to use it or find any number of recipes with specific instructions. I followed directions on how to form and bake the buns at The Clever Carrot, even though my dough was much richer.

Yeast starter

1 teaspoon sugar

1/4 cup lukewarm milk or water

1 package active dry yeast (2 1/2 teaspoons)

*1/2 cup sifted all-purpose flour (sift before measuring)

*I suggest using only 1/4 cup flour in this starter that has to sit for 1 hour, because, contrary to the instructions, 1/4 cup of liquid and 1/2 cup of flour does not make a soft dough. It makes a hockey puck that does not soften or spread over the rest of the dough, as per the original instructions. Add the other 1/4 cup to the dough ingredients below. You can see in my two photos here that the original starter mixture has too much flour, and that even though my heavy duty mixer eventually incorporated it, it is clearly too stiff to work as directed.

Soften the yeast in the sugar and warm milk for about 10 minutes, or until foamy. Stir in 1/4 cup flour, reserving the other 1/4 cup for the dough below, and allow to rest, covered, for 1 hour. The original instructions say to cut a deep x in the small ball of dough, but it did not have any effect for my dough, which never softened much, even though I put it in a warm place. When I make it again, I will follow my own suggestions and hope for a softer starter or I may just incorporate the starter ingredients in the dough without waiting the extra hour.


1/4 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon hot milk or water

3 large eggs, beaten

1 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour (1 3/4 cups if you are adjusting the starter, above)

1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) butter, cut into 1/2-inch slices and brought to room temperature

  1. Combine the salt, sugar, and hot milk, mixing until the sugar is mostly dissolved. Here, again, I think the proportions are wrong, because there is not enough liquid to fully dissolve the sugar. I stirred until I realized this would not happen and continued, knowing that the sugar would incorporate without completely dissolving. You can see that I can be headstrong with recipe instructions.
  2. Using your mixer’s *paddle attachment, beat 2 eggs and sugar mixture until combined. Keeping the mixer running at the lowest speed, add the following ingredients, beating after each addition: 1/2 cup flour, the third egg, 1/2 cup flour, about one fourth of butter, and the remaining 1/2 cup flour. Beat mixture 1 minute.
    1. *The original recipe asks you to start mixing the dough with the mixer whisk attachment, and at the end of that stage, your whisk is so full of sticky dough that it takes about 10 minutes to get it all out, and some you never do. I suggest just beating the eggs first and using the paddle attachment for the first stage, because it is much easier to clean.
  3. Change to the dough-hook attachment. Spread starter onto dough with a rubber spatula and return bowl to mixer—obviously, mine wasn’t spreadable using the original instructions, so I simply flattened it with my hands. Beat dough at medium-high speed 6 minutes, or until dough is smooth and elastic. Add remaining butter and beat 1 minute, or until butter is incorporated—the butter will eventually incorporate, so don’t give up on this step. It makes a sticky dough, but don’t let the comments below the original recipe discourage you; some of them confuse brioche with puff pastry and some must just be averse to wet doughs. Do not add more flour to the dough.
  4. Using a rubber spatula, scrape the dough into a large, buttered bowl. Lightly dust dough with flour to prevent a crust from forming. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let dough rise at room temperature until more than doubled in bulk, 2 to 3 hours.
  5. Punch down dough and lightly dust with flour. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and chill dough, punching down after first hour, at least 12 hours.

Forming and Baking the Buns

Preheat oven to 400°; line baking sheet with parchment

I allowed my dough to come to room temperature in a warm place, first, to have a more malleable dough to form into buns.

The photos at The Clever Carrot© are invaluable for forming the dough, so please go there to see them: http://www.theclevercarrot.com/2013/05/light-brioche-hamburger-buns/

Although the dough I used had different amounts of ingredients, it worked exactly right for eight buns. I cut the dough into eighths with a bench scraper and used the method described to flatten each piece and then draw up the edges into a little purse, then turn over and roll into a nice round. It worked very well, even though mine are not as perfect as the ones at The Clever Carrot©.

Bake for about 15 minutes.

I was just thinking these buns would make great breakfast sandwiches, too, with fried eggs and sausage.

Pesto Bacon Tomato Pizza

Maybe you’re wondering why a person would plant so many tomatoes if only one person in the household will eat them and then exhibit anguish at having so many in the harvest. We asked those questions and plan to plant a more focused batch next year. Of course part of the problem is that the grower is the one who doesn’t like tomatoes; he just likes to watch plants grow. We’re working on this weird setup.

I used to make my own pizza all the time when my children were young, which led to a long period of bread making, but more about that in a later post. It has been a long time since I made my own yeast dough and I’m hoping it works out well today. This pizza is only going to use up two tomatoes, but still it seemed like another good use of them. One can eat only so much salsa.

Another oddity about us is that we are not very interested in any food with Italian tomato sauce. I guess we grew out of it, because we did used to eat things like lasagna or pasta and meatballs. Although we do eat the occasional pizza with red sauce, today’s will be green and red, with fresh tomatoes and red bell peppers for the red part and basil for the green, and I think my reluctant tomato grower will be okay with it, since the tomatoes will be cooked, as well as surrounded by cheeses and bacon.

Long ago, I only mixed dough by hand, and then at some point, I bought the Kitchen Aid stand mixer, which saves these old hands and arms a lot of work. Here are forty seconds of the dough being kneaded:

Pesto Bacon Tomato Pizza

  • Servings: 1 12-inch pizza
  • Difficulty: moderate
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If you read all the way to the end, you will see suggestions for making the same pizza with ready-made ingredients from the grocery store.

Basil-Red Pepper Pesto

1/2 cup basil leaves

2 roasted, peeled, and seeded red bell peppers (I used prepared peppers in a jar)

2 cloves garlic

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 cup grated Parmesan

Salt & pepper to taste (I did not add extra salt because of the salty Parmesan)

Optional: 1/4 cup pine nuts or walnuts ( I decided against using nuts)

  1. I blanched the basil leaves for 10 seconds in boiling water and then plunged them in ice water and dried them on paper towels. The blanching helps maintain a bright green color; however, they look a little wilted, and I didn’t get a good photo of them when they were still leafy.
  2. Add basil, peppers, garlic, and seasonings to the bowl of a food processor and process until finely chopped and blended. Add olive oil in a steady stream as the mixture continues to process until you have a fine consistency. Don’t over-process. This is less oil than in most pesto recipes, but you don’t want to have too much oil on the pizza. There will be fat from the bacon and cheese.
  3. Add the grated cheese and pulse to blend.
  4. The pesto can be made ahead.


1 12 oz. package of thick-sliced bacon

I cooked the bacon in the microwave between four paper towels, in order to minimize the fat that would be added to the pizza. Place four slices at a time between four paper towels (two on the top, two on the bottom). Microwave for 2-3 minutes until light brown. The method cooks pretty evenly and the paper absorbs most of the fat. When cool, chop in half-inch pieces. This can be done ahead.

Pizza Dough

1 package active dry yeast

3/4 cup lukewarm water

2 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons salt

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cups bread flour

  1. Dissolve yeast in warm water for about 10-30 minutes or until foamy. You can add the sugar and salt to this mixture at the same time—I did.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the yeast mixture, olive oil, and flour.
  3. With the dough hook, combine on low. When all the flour is combined, turn to medium and knead for at least ten minutes. The resulting dough will have a nice elasticity that is hard to achieve by hand, but you can certainly make this or any dough by hand.
  4. Round the dough up into a ball and place in an oiled bowl, in a warm place, covered with a pastry cloth or towel. I set mine on the top of the stove and turned the oven on to 200° because my oven vents onto the stove top, keeping the bowl (and the rest of the house) warm.
  5. I let the dough rise to double, twice. The first rise takes longer than the second one, maybe 45 minutes to an hour. The second rise takes only about a half hour.
    1. Some people only let pizza dough rise once; some people don’t let it rise at all.
    2. Some people let the dough ferment overnight or longer in the refrigerator, first.

Preparing the Pizza

Preheat oven to 450°

These instructions assume you are using a peel and baking stone.

Pizza dough (above)

1 cup prepared pesto (above)

6-8 slices bacon, cooked and chopped

8 oz fresh mozzarella

2-3 sliced tomatoes, seeded

1/4-1/2 cup grated Parmesan

  1. Have your baking stone on the lowest oven rack before preheating the oven.
  2. Cover the peel with a 50/50 combination of flour and cornmeal.
  3. On a damp counter or rolling mat, roll the dough into a circle, then pick it up and stretch as needed. If you are using a peel, you have to have the dough pretty much ready to top when you put it on the peel, because if you try to handle it too much there, it will stick and not want to slide onto your baking stone. If you are using a pizza pan, you can push the dough up to the edges in the pan.
  4. Place the stretched pizza dough on the peel and form edges without pressing the dough into the board. You can test that the dough will slide by shaking the peel a little. Once the pizza is put together, it must be able to slide off easily. You can do some slight stretching of the dough on the peel if you don’t press it into the board. If you have edges that are sticking, carefully lift them without disturbing the toppings and put a little flour underneath.
  5. Spread the pesto on the dough up to the edges.
  6. Add the chopped bacon next.
  7. Fresh mozzarella works best if small pieces are pinched off, because it is very soft and moist. If using regular low-moisture mozzarella, you can slice or grate it. Sprinkle mozzarella pieces over the pizza.
  8. Cover the top with sliced tomatoes. I seeded the whole tomatoes as much as possible before slicing to avoid a watery pizza.
  9. Sprinkle the top with Parmesan to taste.
  10. Brush the edges of the crust with olive oil.
  11. Slide pizza from peel to hot stone in oven. Aim well, because you won’t be able to move it after it hits the stone. Even if you are using a pizza pan, you can still bake it on the stone.
  12. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until the cheese begins to brown.

All this said, you can make this pizza using ready-made ingredients: You can buy pizza dough in most grocery stores, now. You can get good pesto in a jar, as well as the red peppers I used. You can even get pre-cooked bacon and cheese that is already grated, so don’t run away thinking this is too much work. It is too much work and you can do it more easily and get the same flavors from ready-made ingredients.

Did it go over well? Yep.