Baking - Breads

Pizza Dough Experiment

I have been using the same pizza dough recipe for years. It is easy to throw together, using instant yeast so it only needs a short time for rising, which makes it easy to make a pizza at relatively short notice. It also makes a nice thin crust, which I like. But lately I’ve been craving a chewy pizzeria crust, and the recipe I use just doesn’t offer that.

Inspired by the artisan-type no-knead bread from several months ago, I thought to myself “I bet that would make a good crust!” So I cut the no-knead bread recipe by about a third, mixed it up the night before, and at suppertime the next day it was ready to spread in a pan for toppings.

The dough was pretty sticky, so it couldn’t be rolled out with a rolling pin, but it didn’t take much to spread it out over the pan with floured fingers. I let it rest for about 15 minutes (instead of the half hour it is for a batch of bread) while the oven preheated and before adding the toppings. I baked the pizza at the same temperature as the bread – 450F – for about 15 minutes. I wasn’t sure how long it would take to bake, since the dough was quite a bit thinner than a loaf of bread, but it also was covered in toppings. I actually took it out after 12 minutes, but it looked like it wasn’t quite done, so I put it back in. If you try this at home you might need to experiment a bit with baking times, depending on your oven and how many toppings are covering the dough.

I was very happy with how the crust turned out, golden and crispy-chewy. I will definitely be using this recipe again, as long as I remember to plan ahead to mix the dough the night before!

Baking - Breads

No-Knead Bread

Finally, after several people telling me about this over the years, I have made a loaf of no-knead bread. I used a link a friend sent, followed the recipe (almost), and ended up with a beautiful crusty loaf of fresh bread; no kneading by hand, no kneading by machine.

To make this bread, you mix up the dough, let it sit covered at room temperature for 12-18 hours, then bake it in a dutch oven at 450F. It’s really that simple.

You can find the recipe I used by clicking here. I say I almost followed the recipe because, of course, I made some modifications. Why would I do an exact recipe on the first try? The recipe did say you could add things to the dough, so I decided to go ahead and make a loaf of olive bread. I added about one cup of sliced olives, and I also added 1/2 tsp of sugar to help feed the yeast. I let mine sit for about 14 hours, mixing it up at night, letting it sit overnight and then baking it the next afternoon. The dough seemed to lose some of its volume when I transferred it from the bowl to the counter for its last rest time, but still baked up into a nice loaf.

Don’t worry, I will still use my new mixer for bread. The no-knead bread is a lot more like the artisan breads that are all the rage; thick, crispy crust, with a bubbly, chewy crumb. Call me old fashioned, but I like a nice soft bread for my breakfast toast, and I think the way to get that will be to knead the dough as usual. But this no-knead bread will be great for lunches and snacks!