My contribution to the progressive dinner is, of course, a bread recipe! This recipe makes 3 large, rich, buttery loaves. I love to braid the loaves for a festive appearance and sometimes sprinkle them with poppy or sesame seeds. If you want to be even awesomer, you can make 2 double braided loaves. Continue reading
At my house, we love pizza. I mean, we LOVE pizza. And the best pizza is always homemade. That way you have the perfect thickness of crust, the exact amount of sauce, and the perfect combination of toppings. I even have individual deep dish pans and three different sizes of pizza pans. Did I mention that we LOVE pizza?
Over the years I have tried a LOT of different pizza crust recipes. The sourdough crust is good, but I have found the hands down, go-to pizza crust. And it’s not even a crust recipe. It’s a bread recipe. Shocking. I know, right? Who uses a bread recipe for pizza crust? Well, uuhhmm, I do…and it makes the most amazing pizza crust you’ve ever eaten. It’s a recipe that I got a few years ago from my sister. In the beginning, I made bread with it (like I was supposed to), and then I got a little crazy and I made some bread sticks to go with spaghetti one night. Then I had the brilliant idea (yes I did say brilliant, because that’s what it was; brilliant) to make pizza crust out of it. It was love at first bite. I’ve never looked at another pizza crust the same way again. I have gone so far as to make the pizza crust in the mini pans and freeze it so that we can have pizza whenever we want without having to wait for the dough to rise. I have even, at times, used half the dough for a free form loaf of bread and the other half for pizza crust. All at the same time. What can I say, I live on the edge.
So in an effort to spread the love, I am about to share with you the Best. Pizza. Crust. Ever. (It’s really good for bread too. :))
Italian Herb and Cheese Bread Recipe (AKA The Best. Pizza. Crust. Ever.)
1 Tbsp yeast
2 c. warm water
2 Tbsp dehydrated sugar cane juice, Sucanat, or Rapadura
1/4 c. olive oil
1 Tbsp sea salt
2 Tbsp dried basil
2 Tbsp dried oregano
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 c. romano cheese, grated
5-7 c. flour of your choice
Put water and yeast in a large mixing bowl and stir to dissolve. Add all the other ingredients except flour and combine thoroughly. Add 2 cups of flour and mix well. Continue adding flour a cup at a time until dough becomes shaggy and leaves the sides of the bowl. Turn out onto a lightly floured board and knead for 8 minutes until the dough is smooth and not sticky.
Clean out mixing bowl and oil with olive oil. Place dough in bowl and turn to grease top. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel. Let dough rise in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled. After dough has risen, punch down and turn out onto a lightly floured board.
Cut off a portion of the dough and roll it to fit your pizza pan. You can also make a freeform crust and bake it on a cookie sheet. How much dough you need will depend entirely on how big your pans are and how thick you like your crust. Heat your oven to 450 F. If you are using a pizza stone, put it in the oven before heating and let preheat for at least 20 minutes. While your oven heats, get out your pizza ingredients (or not if you are going to be freezing them :)).
When your oven is heated up, re-roll or re-press the dough to fit the pans. It tends to shrink a little. Use a fork to prick holes all over so that the dough doesn’t puff up. Place in oven. The crusts need to bake for about 15 minutes. I like to take them out after 7ish minutes and remove them from the pans and put them back in directly on the pizza stone. That makes the bottom crust crisper. After 15 minutes remove them from the oven and top with your favorite fixins. Return to oven for about 5 minutes or until the cheese has browned to your liking. Sit back, relax, and receive the praises from your family for making them The. Best. Pizza. Ever!
And if you want to actually make bread with it, here’s what you do:
After the first rise, divide dough in half and form into two loaves. This works equally will with loaf pans, round free form loaves, or french style loaves. I have made four thinner baguette style loaves for brushetta or toasted rounds. Let the loaves rise 1/2 hour or until doubled again. Brush with egg wash (1 egg and 1 Tbsp water beaten together) and sprinkle with a little romano cheese. This isn’t necessary, but it gives the loaves a pretty color. Slash the loaves. If using loaf pans, bake at 350 F for 35 minutes. If free form or french style loaves, bake at 450 F for 25 to 30 minutes, until the loaves sound hollow when thumped on the bottom. For an artisan crispy crust, throw a cup of hot water into a heated pan in the bottom of the oven when you put the bread in. This bread is good anyway you want to eat it: still warm from the oven, toasted, cold. I’ve even made croutons out of it for salads.
So go whip up a batch and let me know your favorite way to eat it!
I shared this at Fight Back Fridays and
Ahhh, English muffins. There is nothing I love more to pair with my morning cup of tea than a freshly baked sourdough English muffin. Sometimes I eat them with just buttery goodness oozing into all the little holes in their golden toasted interiors. Occasionally I will throw caution to the wind and slather a spoonful of blackberry jelly across their nooks and crannies. And when I’m in a particularly wild mood, I will add a fried egg, a slice of sharp cheddar cheese, and some bacon or a sausage patty. I know, right? Just call me wild and crazy! But no matter how I choose to “dress” them, I enjoy them thoroughly.
As you can imagine, I worked diligently to come up with my own recipe for these little beauties as soon as my starter could be called “started”. I am happy to report I was successful in my endeavor. Not only are they a staple at my house, but I have a friend who lamented that I have “spoiled her for store-bought ones.” They are probably my most popular baked good among my friends and family and I get many requests for them.
In the interests of others of you helping to supply the general populace with amazing English muffins (that will spoil them all for store-bought ones), I am sharing my recipe with you here.
These work best with starter that has been fed within the past eight to twelve hours, although they will be fine if it hasn’t been, they just won’t rise as high. There is a “secret” ingredient in these that helps to give them a stronger sourdough “tang” without having to wait all day. It is citric acid, sometimes called sour salt, and it is available to most health food and natural food stores. I usually have some in my pantry because I use it in cheese making as well as my homemade dish washer powder which you can find here. If you don’t have any citric acid that’s perfectly ok, the muffins will still be wonderful.
So let’s go to the kitchen and get started!
Sourdough English Muffins
4 Tbsp honey
2 cups warm water
1 Tbsp yeast
2 cups sourdough starter
7 to 10 cups unbleached all purpose flour
¾ cup non-fat dry milk
½ cup (1 stick) butter at room temperature
1 ½ Tbsp Kosher salt
¾ tsp citric acid (optional)
cornmeal or semolina to sprinkle on pans and on top of muffins
In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the honey in the warm water. Stir in and dissolve the yeast, and then mix in the sourdough starter and 1 cup of flour. Let this sit for a few minutes, until the mixture begins to bubble.
Add the dry milk, butter, salt, citric acid (if using) and a second cup of flour, and beat well.
Add 5 to 8 cups of flour, one cup at a time, to form a dough that holds together and pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it until it’s smooth and springy, but slightly on the slack side, about 8 minutes. This dough is supposed to be slightly sticky. Add flour only as necessary to prevent sticking.
Clean out and grease your bowl and place the dough in the greased bowl, turning it so that a thin film of oil coats all sides.
Cover the dough with plastic wrap or a damp towel, let it stand until it has doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours.
Punch down dough, turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface, cover it and let it sit for a few minutes. Divide the dough into two pieces and roll each piece out separately to a 1/2-inch thickness. Cut the dough into rounds; re-roll and cut any remaining scraps. I use a large cutter for my English muffins that makes them larger than the ones you would get at the store. My cutter makes 24. The number you get will be dependent on how big your cutter is.
Place the rounds onto cornmeal- or semolina-sprinkled baking sheets, sprinkle them with additional cornmeal or semolina, cover with a damp towel, and let them rise until light and puffy, about 1 hour.
Transfer the rounds to an electric griddle preheated to 275°F. If you don’t have an electric griddle, you can use a non-electric one on your stove top, or you can use a big skillet on the stove top.
Cook for 10 to 12 minutes on each side, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the center of a muffin registers 190°F. Remove them from the griddle and cool on a rack.
You may have to play with your griddle to find the right temperature for the muffins. I have more than one griddle and I have to set them on different temperatures. They need to be nicely browned and crispy on the bottoms before you flip them. If they cook faster than 10 minutes, you need to lower the temperature to make sure that they cook all the way through.
And just in case you didn’t know, English muffins are not just for breakfast anymore. These are also really good for sandwiches at lunchtime or a late night snack. They are basically just pretty good at any time!
So what are you waiting for? They don’t make themselves, ya know.
Why don’t you share your favorite thing to put on an English muffin? Enquiring minds want to know.