Rosemary Focaccia BLT

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So this week’s tackling of yeast involved focaccia, and holy crap, it was amazing. Also, incredibly easy. No kneading, no worries. The recipe says you can let it rise in the fridge for anywhere for 8 hours to two days, and due to the way our schedules worked this week, I wound up letting it go for the full two days. In that respect, it’s perfect for serving when you have friends over for dinner, because most of the work is done days before.

My modifications included using half bread flour and half AP flour, since that’s what I had on hand, and I scattered chopped fresh rosemary over the top before baking (a step I highly recommend).

When it was still warm from the oven, I cut myself a piece, layered on some chipotle mayo, lettuce, bacon, and tomato, and then had a moment of silence to celebrate just how perfectly simple a good meal can be.

She recommends eating it all day of, which unless you’re feeding a large group, isn’t possible. I sliced the rest of the bread into individual servings, wrapped it in plastic wrap, placed it in a ziploc bag, and put it in the freezer. I have faith that it will make fantastic toast.

Here is the complete recipe: Saltie’s Focaccia 

Edited late to note: It really does makes fantastic toast, pulled from the freezer and toasted under a low broiler for a few minutes. I seriously want to always have some of this bread in my freezer. Perfect side for some soup, too!

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Corn Zucchini Lime Pizza

 

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Photos after dark- not so great.

This pizza was so good! It was covered with corn, zucchini, red onions, jalapenos, cilantro, goat cheese, and lime juice. I always love a pizza with unusual toppings, and these just worked so well together. It tasted like summer, and considering how much I love summer, that is quite the compliment.

This is the second pizza dough I’ve made this summer in my yeast challenge, and not only was it a lot faster and easier to make than the last batch (though I did need to add a little extra water), I think we really wound up preferring the flavor and texture as well. The crust was so nice and crunchy, and incredibly easy to work with after it rose. Also, one batch of dough is enough for two large pizzas, which means I have a pizza crust sitting in my freezer right now, just waiting to be cooked. Now I’m brainstorming toppings for next week.

You can find the pizza recipe here at Shutterbean. Our only modification was to use goat cheese instead of the other cheeses she has listed. Either way, it’s going to be delicious!

Cinnamon Swirl Bread

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I made a fancy addition to my yeast project this weekend: cinnamon swirl bread! Words cannot describe how glorious this bread smells while baking. Forget chocolate chip cookies before a house showing, because everyone should just have this bread in the oven.

I was a little intimidated by all of the rolling and envisioned a blob of random cinnamon sugar and dough with no swirl to speak of, but it actually turned out really well. Unlike last week’s oatmeal sandwich bread, this one has no bread flour, resulting in a very soft and fluffy loaf. Perfect for toast with some butter. Easy breakfasts are always a win.

The entire recipe, with a million step by step photos, can be found on The Pioneer Woman’s blog.

Oatmeal Sandwich Bread

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Before
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After

So far in my yeast challenge, I’ve successfully made both pizza and soft pretzels. I’ve tried and failed to make a wild sourdough starter and buttery buns (which were delicious, but flat in a way that no one wants buns to be. I think my kitchen was too hot). I figured that I should make my first loaf of bread to eat as breakfast this week. I mean, if there was ever a classic yeast recipe, it’s bread.

It might come as a shock to… no one? that there are countless bread recipes. I started to poke around to find one that wouldn’t be overly complicated and be great for toast. Bread for toasting requires a certain density. I don’t want the bread to fall apart when I’m buttering it or adding copious amounts of orange marmalade (me) or strawberry jam (Josh). There is a science to this, people.

This Oatmeal Sandwich Bread from Orangette is exactly what I wanted. The molasses gives it a complex sweetness and a darker color. The loaf is huge and perfect toasted under the broiler, since it was way to big to fit into our toaster.

I wound up using AP flour as opposed to whole wheat, and I did all of my kneading by hand since our mixer is in storage back in TN, but I highly, highly recommend this recipe, and I look forward to eating it again tomorrow morning.

In the meantime, today is my birthday and the beginning of my last year in my twenties, so I’m off to celebrate! Maybe I’ll sneak in an extra piece of toast.

Soft Pretzels

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So, I’m still working on my yeast fears. Josh decided to help me along by suggesting that I make soft pretzels.

My initial thought? You must be crazy. I mean, yeast, dough, hand kneading, hand shaping… Talk about out of my comfort zone! But since I have such a hard time saying no to him, I decided to jump in feet first and go for it.

The result? Amazing pretzels! And my house smelled like Auntie Anne’s! These were the ideal soft pretzels: slightly crunchy on the outside, soft and perfectly dense on the inside. Eating one right after pulling them out of the oven is practically mandatory. I still need to work on my shaping skills, but that just requires practice.

This was a win on soooo many levels. Plus, now I feel like I can tackle anything. So much baking in my future! Already planning next week’s experiment.

Until I have more experience with yeasty things, I’ll just keep posting links to the original recipes I use, since I definitely won’t be improvising, nor should I be the person you come to for technical questions. Unless your questions are more along the lines of the best way to eat them, in which case I have ideas. So many ideas.

So go here and learn how to make pretzels. You won’t regret it.

Pizza 101

Pizza

So… I have a confession: I’m mildly terrified of yeast/dough. Yeah, totally pathetic for someone who loves to cook so much from scratch, I know. Something about it though just makes my heart start to race and gives me visions of dismal, gummy failures. I’ve deftly managed to avoid it for years, other than an occasional batch of bread in the safety of my bread maker (which, honestly, does that even count?).

This summer is the time for that to change. My goal? To conquer yeast. Yes, I know that’s a strange goal, especially with the current paleo and gluten free trends that seem to have taken over, but I want to know how to confidently make a loaf of bread, rolls, or… pizza!

Guys, I made pizza dough! With an overnight rise and yeast and bubbles and stickiness, and it was great! I feel like a champion, not going to lie.

I’m not even going to begin to break this down myself, because Deb at Smitten Kitchen has done the most AMAZING job of going into the science behind it all, even including different amounts of yeast for different rise times, which blows my rookie mind. Do yourself a favor and go check it out here: Lazy Pizza Dough

Here are my thoughts/tips after making the 22 hour rise dough:

  • I bought a new bag of King Arthur AP flour and a new container of yeast (mine got thrown out when we moved across the country, which is good, because it was old, and old yeast is bad yeast), since Deb used the same flour. Nervous Nellie right here.
  • I definitely had to add the extra tbsp or 2 of water to get my dough right.
  • We made the sauce that Deb used, and I would recommend making sure it’s very well seasoned. It brings a lot of the flavor to the pizza. We added dried oregano from our old garden in TN (I miss you, garden), which was an excellent addition.
  • I put my baking sheet in the oven while it preheated, and assembled each of my two pizzas on separate sheets of parchment paper on which I first rubbed a thin layer of olive oil and sprinkled a dusting of cornmeal. Then I just placed the parchment with the pizza on the very hot sheet and put it in the oven. The edges of the paper did get scorched and resulted in a little smokiness in the apartment, but there was no sticking and the bottom of the crust got nice and crispy. Worth it.
  • This dough is seriously wet and sticky. Don’t freak out. Just take your time and laugh a lot. A beer helps with this process.
  • We used some mozzarella and just a few things (marinated artichoke hearts and sun dried tomatoes) we grabbed off the Whole Foods antipasti bar, which made this super easy to assemble.

Try it out! I can’t wait to start experimenting with it more.

Yeast, I will win this fight.