Tag Archives: Daring Bakers

Daring Bakers: Deep Dish Greek Pizza

IMG_5991
Pizza?  Did someone say pizza?  What pizza?

Pizza with Peter Reinhart's dough from The Bread Baker's Apprentice courtesy of this month's Daring Baker challenge host, Rosa of Rosa's Yummy Yums.  You'll be able to reference the challenge recipe at her site.

That's what pizza.

Oh…..

But I completely forgot.  I know.  The first time in 17 months. 

So it was after dinner last night when I started my dough and this morning, it's sitting on the counter, flat, and round.  Waiting.

My garlic is roasted.  It will get smashed, mixed with a bit of the roasted garlic oil and spread on the dough before everything else.

IMG_6016

The sundried tomatoes are rehydrating.  They'll go in the pesto.

IMG_6029
 

And I've still got time to decide what else is going on my pizza.  So far, it's a bit Greek to me:  kalamatas, pinenuts, artichoke hearts, feta….maybe some arugula.  Maybe.  Is that Greek?

IMG_5988

Now why didn't I have this all figured out?  Because when we make pizza — which we do quite a bit — it's sort of anything goes.  That's the fun of it all.

IMG_6027

So this post will be in stages today so I can punish myself for being such a complete dork.

And by all means, tune back in to see where I am on this.  It's not asking much considering you've only got, what?  About a thousand other Daring Bakers' pizzas to check out?

Now, where's my cast iron skillet?  I think we're going deep dish on this one….

Be back later.

10am PST — UPDATE #1:  The Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto.

There are lots of pesto recipes out there…or so I thought.  Actually, there are lots of sun-dried tomato pesto recipes out there as long as you're interested in using oil-packed tomatoes.  But I improvised after looking at about 10 different recipes and used what I had on hand:

1 c. rehydrated sun-dried tomatoes

1/2 c. fresh parmesan, grated

1/2 c. fresh basil

2 T. pepitas, toasted

3 cloves fresh garlic, very large…

1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil

3 pinches kosher salt

Dash of dried red pepper flakes

IMG_6031

Pour boiling water over the dried tomatoes and let soak for about 30 minutes.  Drain in a fine meshed strainer, reserving the liquid for another use, and press on the tomatoes to remove as much liquid as possible.

In a cast iron skillet over medium high heat, toast the pepitas until just beginning to brown.  Be careful not to burn.  Remove from pan.

In the bowl of a food processor or blender, pulse the tomatoes, parmesan, basil, and garlic until well blended.  With the motor running, then slowly add the olive oil in a steady thin stream.  Add the salt and pulse a few more times.  Check flavor to correct seasoning, then sprinkle in the red pepper flakes and stir.

IMG_6035

Notes:

  • The sun-dried tomatoes I purchase are usually found in bulk in large bins.  I keep them on hand because you just never know when you're going to need them for a Daring Baker's Challenge.  OR something.
  • The flavor is more intense than those packed in oil in my opinion, and the cost is significantly less.  Plus, I usually find that when I purchase oil-packed tomatoes, I don't use them all, and they go to waste.  The plain dried tomatoes are much easier to store and use as I need them.
  • The flavor of this pesto is quite pungent and would be amazing on pasta.  We'll see how it tastes on my pizza.

Okay, back to the kitchen for the next steps.

11:45am PST — UPDATE #2:  The Roasted Garlic

1 head of garlic, peelings on

1/2 c. olive oil

salt and pepper

IMG_6045

Tear off a couple of pieces of aluminum foil large enough to wrap around the head of garlic and provide space for the olive oil.

Slice the top quarter or so off the head of garlic and set the head in the foil.  Pour the olive oil over the head of garlic and sprinkle with salt and pepper. 

Make a loose package of the foil and crimp the edges tightly.  Set in an oven proof dish and bake at 350 degrees F for about an hour.  Let cool in the package, then carefully open making sure not to spill the roasted garlic oil.  When the garlic is cool, you'll be able to "squirt" each of the cloves of roasted garlic into a dish separate from the oil.  Mash the roasted garlic and spread a small quantity onto the pizza dough.

Notes: 

  • I do have a garlic roaster, and actually use it unless the head of garlic is too large to fit in it.  It's not necessary to have one — the foil produces great results.
  • Roasted garlic is much more mellow than raw.  To me, it's a completely different flavor.  The mashed roasted garlic is something I put out at parties for people to spread on bread or crostini.  It works well with tapenade or soft cheeses as well.  And if you haven't tried it in pasta or mashed potatoes, you're really missing something.
  • Use the oil to brush on bread and toast, or for grilling meat or veggies.  Or use a bit of the oil to thin the roasted garlic.  

Okay, back later…Pizza Numero Uno is up next!

12:45pm PST — UPDATE #3:  The Flat & Crispy Greek Pizza.

1 disk proofed pizza dough

1 T roasted garlic

2 T sun-dried tomato pesto

artichoke hearts (not marinated)

1/4 red onion, sliced

1/4 c. feta cheese, crumbled

1 T fresh rosemary

Amoeba Shaped Greek Pizza

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F and position a rack in the lower third of your oven.

Stretch the pizza dough over your extremely floured knuckles until the weight of it causes it to stretch and drape.  Place it on an inverted baking pan covered with parchment.

Thin the roasted garlic with a bit of the garlic oil and using a basting brush, brush it over the pizza dough.

Dot dollops of the tomato pesto over the garlic and spread with the back of a spoon.  It's not necessary to cover the entire surface.

Place artichokes here and there, then the onions, and sprinkle the feta over.  Then sprinkle on the rosemary.

Bake for 5-7 minutes or until crust is pleasantly brown.  Let cool briefly before digging in.

IMG_6058

Notes:

  • I decided to make a flat pizza first since the whole idea behind this challenge was to try and stretch (um, throw?) the dough, which is a bit sticky if there's not enough flour on it, but is quite nice to work with as long as you have more patience than I do.
  • I chose an amoeba-shape because it's Halloween and I thought I'd be clever about it.  Actually, I barely got the dough on my knuckles and boy did it ever want to stretch.  So I slapped it on the baking sheet and proceeded with my toppings.
  • I enjoyed the flavors on this pizza.  They worked nicely with the salty dough.  Usually when we have artichoke pizza, there's a ton of cheese on it and that's all I can taste. 
  • Even without a "wet" sauce and a very thin crust, this crust wasn't crisp.  I actually prefer something with more substance than this.
  • All in all — not bad.

Okay, next up, Deep Dish Pizza.

1:37pm PST — UPDATE #4:  The Deep Dish Greek Pizza

You need a cast iron skillet for this.

1 disk proofed pizza dough

1 T olive oil

3-4 San Marzano Whole Tomatoes, canned

2 T sun-dried tomato pesto

1 tsp. roasted garlic

1/4 red onion, sliced

1/2 c. artichoke hearts (non-marinated)

6 kalamatas, sliced

1/4 c. feta

1 T fresh rosemary

red pepper flakes

IMG_6057

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F and position a rack in the lower third of the oven.

Oil the bottom and sides of the cast iron skillet with olive oil and set aside.

In a small bowl, squish the tomatoes with your hands until they're small chunks and add the tomato pesto and roasted garlic.  Sprinkle in some dried red pepper flakes and stir well.  Taste for seasoning and correct if necessary.

Using well-floured hands, and a bench scraper if necessary, gently pry the proofed pizza disk off of your counter where it has been sitting for two hours. (See entire directions for making dough at Rosa's site linked above…)  Make sure the skillet is near by because the dough stretches quickly and you'll want to place it into the bottom of the skillet.

Once the dough is in the skillet, push it around to form a thick edge that just begins to rise up the sides.  Pour on the tomato sauce, place the artichokes and onions over the sauce, and sprinkle on the olives, feta, and rosemary.  Add another sprinkle of red pepper flakes if you like it spicy.

Bake for 10 minutes or until the sides are nicely browned.  Let cool a bit in the skillet before chowing down.

IMG_6065

Notes:

  • So, this is deep dish compared to the first pizza I made, but by no means deep dish.  I don't think this dough would hold up, but I have two more disks I can try out.
  • The tomato sauce is excellent.  It's very rich in flavor and quite wonderful.  I love San Marzano tomatoes and could eat them right out of the can, so clearly I have a problem.  But adding the tomato pesto quickly turns a few canned tomatoes into a very nice sauce.
  • I used my convection settings for this, so 10 minutes would most likely take longer using conventional settings.  At least 15 minutes depending on how thick your crust is.
  • Comparatively, I liked the thick pizza better than the thin one.  The tomato sauce is very nice with the thicker crust and the olives a perfect addition.
  • On the issue of the dough in general, I have a dough recipe I use and like that is very easy to work with and takes much less time.  The flavor of this dough is pleasant, but not for the wait time.  So many recipes, so little time, right?

IMG_6071


So there you go!  Another Daring Baker challenge done.  Pizza anyone?  Anyone?

Danish Braids: Daring Bakers June Challenge

 

Call me Murphy because if anything could go wrong, it already has.  You know when you get to the end of a very long post and you see that spinning wheel?  The one that indicates that something’s not quite right with your browser?  Yes.  That would be me about 3 minutes ago.  And now I’m supposed to start over because the whole freaking thing is gonzo. *sob* It all happened when I clicked on that link for the Daring Bakers Blogroll…Can you believe it?

It’s 12:46 am, and it’s posting day for the Daring Bakers, something I can’t wait for each month.  And this month in particular, since I’m one of the hosts, you’d think I’d have things all wrapped up.  I’ve had Danish Braid on the brain for about three months now, from thinking about choosing the recipe, to choosing it, to testing it, and baking it four different ways…and now it’s time to raise the curtain and what do you think?

*crickets…*

My browser quits on me and my post is lost.  Crappity crap crap.  It’s kind of like not showing up for your own party.

It’s bad enough living in the farthest Southwest corner of the U.S. and always, always, always being the very last to be able to post, counting the minutes until midnight, barely waiting for my time to let it rip.  But have my browser quit on me?  That’s just wrong.

Ahhhhh…..I guess I should have written this post a month ago, right?  Set it to fly when the clock hit midnight?  But no.

I’ve had Italy on my brain along with Danish Braid, because we’re leaving in two days.  Two.  So this is my punishment for not being ready.

Nevertheless, it’s time to give this another go.  To write again that which has been lost.  Right?

Um, nope.  I have no energy at this point.  Forgive me.

With what little grace I have at this point (like, ZERO?), it is so important to me to say thank you to Ben of What’s Cooking? for being my co-host for this month’s Daring Baker Challenge.  THANK YOU BEN!   I know Ben would have more dignity than I do right now.  *sigh* Right Ben?

Okay, enough of the melodrama and on with the pastry.

Danish Braid anyone?

This completely fabulous recipe is Sherry Yard’s from The Secrets of Baking, and what a lovely recipe it is.  Cardamom, orange, vanilla…and lots of options for making it your own.  If you’ve ever wondered about whether you could make pastry, this is the recipe for you to try.  But I’m biased. I could have eaten all of it myself.

DANISH BRAID

Makes enough for 2 large braids

Ingredients
1 recipe Danish Dough (see below)
2 cups apple filling, jam, or preserves (see below)

For the egg wash:  1 large egg, plus 1 large egg yolk

1.    Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or parchment paper.  On a lightly floured  surface, roll the Danish Dough into a 15 x 20-inch rectangle, ¼ inch thick.  If the dough seems elastic and shrinks back when rolled, let it rest for a few minutes, then roll again.  Place the dough on the baking sheet.
2.    Along one long side of the pastry make parallel, 5-inch-long cuts with a knife or rolling pastry wheel, each about 1 inch apart.  Repeat on the opposite side, making sure to line up the cuts with those you’ve already made.
3.    Spoon the filling you’ve chosen to fill your braid down the center of the rectangle.  Starting with the top and bottom flaps, fold the top flap down over the filling to cover.  Next, fold the bottom flap up to cover filling.  This helps keep the braid neat and helps to hold in the filling. Now begin folding the cut side strips of dough over the filling, alternating first left, then right, left, right, until finished.  Trim any excess dough and tuck in the ends.

Egg Wash
Whisk together the whole egg and yolk in a bowl and with a pastry brush, lightly coat the braid.

Proofing and Baking
1.    Spray cooking oil (Pam) onto a piece of plastic wrap, and place over the braid.  Proof at room temperature or, if possible, in a controlled 90 degree F environment for about 2 hours, or until doubled in volume and light to the touch.
2.    Near the end of proofing, preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Position a rack in the center of the oven.
3.    Bake for 10 minutes, then rotate the pan so that the side of the braid previously in the back of the oven is now in the front. Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F, and bake about 15-20 minutes more, or until golden brown.  Cool and serve the braid either still warm from the oven or at room temperature.  The cooled braid can be wrapped airtight and stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days, or freeze for 1 month.

DANISH DOUGH

 

Makes 2-1/2 pounds dough

Ingredients
For the dough (Detrempe)
1 ounce fresh yeast or 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
½ cup whole milk
1/3 cup sugar
Zest of 1 orange, finely grated
¾ teaspoon ground cardamom
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ vanilla bean, split and scraped
2 large eggs, chilled
¼ cup fresh orange juice
3-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt

For the butter block (Beurrage)
½ pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter
¼ cup all-purpose flour

DOUGH
Combine  yeast and milk in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed.  Slowly add sugar, orange zest, cardamom, vanilla extract, vanilla seeds, eggs, and orange juice.  Mix well.  Change to the dough hook and add the salt with the flour, 1 cup at a time, increasing speed to medium as the flour is incorporated.  Knead the dough for about 5 minutes, or until smooth.  You may need to add a little more flour if it is sticky.  Transfer dough to a lightly floured baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

BUTTER BLOCK

1.    Combine  butter and flour in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for 1 minute.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle and then beat for 1 minute more, or until smooth and lump free.  Set aside at room temperature.
2.    After the detrempe has chilled 30 minutes, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface.  Roll the dough  into a rectangle approximately 18 x 13 inches and ¼ inch thick.  The dough may be sticky, so keep dusting it lightly with flour.  Spread the butter evenly over the center and right thirds of the dough.  Fold the left edge of the detrempe to the right, covering half of the butter.  Fold the right third of the rectangle over the center third.  The first turn has now been completed.  Mark the dough by poking it with your finger to keep track of your turns, or use a sticky and keep a tally.  Place the dough on a baking sheet, wrap it in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
3.    Place the dough lengthwise on a floured work surface.  The open ends should be to your right and left.  Roll the dough into another approximately 13 x 18 inch, ¼-inch-thick rectangle.  Again, fold the left third of the rectangle over the center third and the right third over the center third.  No additional butter will be added as it is already in the dough. The second turn has now been completed.  Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.
4.    Roll out, turn, and refrigerate the dough two more times, for a total of four single turns.  Make sure you are keeping track of your turns.  Refrigerate the dough after the final turn for at least 5 hours or overnight.  The Danish dough is now ready to be used.  If you will not be using the dough within 24 hours, freeze it.  To do this, roll the dough out to about 1 inch in thickness, wrap tightly in plastic wrap, and freeze.  Defrost the dough slowly in the refrigerator for easiest handling.  Danish dough will keep in the freezer for up to 1 month.


 

APPLE FILLING
Makes enough for two braids

Ingredients
4 Fuji or other apples, peeled, cored, and cut into ¼-inch pieces
½ cup sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ vanilla bean, split and scraped
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
4 tablespoons unsalted butter

Toss all ingredients except butter in a large bowl.  Melt the butter in a saute pan over medium heat until slightly nutty in color, about 6 – 8 minutes.  Then add the apple mixture and saute until apples are softened and caramelized, 10 to 15 minutes.  If you’ve chosen Fujis, the apples will be caramelized, but have still retained their shape. Pour the cooked apples onto a baking sheet to cool completely before forming the braid.  (If making ahead, cool to room temperature, seal, and refrigerate.) They will cool faster when spread in a thin layer over the surface of the sheet.  After they have cooled, the filling can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.  Left over filling can be used as an ice cream topping, for muffins, cheesecake, or other pastries.

Notes:

  • I made two braids:  one with apple filling, and the other with a combination of strawberry jam & pastry cream.  I took the jam & pastry recipes from the Beatrice Ojakangas recipe for Danish Braid in Baking with Julia.  They are quickly and easily made in the microwave and were very good.
  • I also made Danish Envelopes folded two ways.  Each had the apples described above, but also with a filling of 8 oz. cream cheese, 1/4 c. demerara, 1/2 egg,  and 1/2 tsp. vanilla well mixed and dolloped onto the apples. I sprinkled chopped pecans over the filling, baked them, and then drizzled dulce de leche over the top.  Mmmm….
  • Speaking of those apples — they’re delicious.  This would make a beautiful pie filling or ice cream topping, or…add some nuts and just enjoy.
  • The egg wash for the top of the braid will produce a very brown crust, so be prepared.
  • Absolutely read the recipe several times before you begin.  The recipe is very straight forward unless it’s not carefully read.
  • Make sure you don’t cheat on the 30 minute refrigeration times between turns.  The gluten needs to rest, and the butter to chill.
  • If your kitchen is above 80 degrees F, the butter will most likely pose a problem, so make sure all your ingredients are cold to begin with, and if need be, refrigerate when necessary along the way to keep things cold.
  • Make sure the “fringe” on the dough for the braid isn’t cut too long or the filling will ooze out during the proof time, or even worse, during baking.  Hmmm…did I do this?
  • I used green cardamom pods for this — about 16.  It’s time consuming to crack them and grind the seeds, but worth it.  The dough is very aromatic, and the pastry very special.

 

 

 

Please take time to visit the other Daring Bakers to see their sweet and savory, nutty, fruity Danish Braids. They’re amazing, as always, and far more entertaining than I am at this point.

Somebody needs to hose me down.

And here’s a quick look at round two with my Danish Envelopes.  To get the rounded ones, I placed them in a Texas style muffin pan and wrapped the corners up over the filling.  Cute little things if I might say so myself.  Wish I had one right now, and I’d drown my sorrows in that yummy pastry.

Look how much nicer my dough was the next time.  All straight and perfect! Such lovely dough to work with. Okay, forget hosing me down.  Just wrap me in this dough, and I’ll be happy.

 

 

 

 

The Perfect White Layer Cake — Period.

When I read that we would be digging into one of Dorie Greenspan’s cake recipes, I couldn’t resist a smile.  And as I read deeper into the recipe and saw the possibilities, I knew I’d enjoy imagining what could be done with this cake, the Perfect Party Cake: pure white, multi-layered, and frosting that hints of whatever I’d like it to…But then a funny thing happened.

I remembered a photo of a white cake covered with coconut and filled with lemon in my mother’s old cookbook — one that I’d imagined for years would be mine and never was.  My heart was broken.  *sniff*   So I knew I’d most likely stick very close to Dorie’s recipe.  The idea of the lemon and the coconut was more than I could resist, and I just happened to have some blackberry jam.

I’m not like many of the other Daring Bakers I come across, and goodness knows there are about ten trillion of them in FoodLand now.  I’m always in awe of those who hop to each challenge, making it nearly before the web has cooled from its reveal to our masses.  And some bake their hearts out more than once on a challenge, experimenting and diligently learning.  It’s quite admirable.

I usually wait until the last minute.  It’s not because I’m not interested.  FAR from true.  I seem to wallow in all the possibilities, imagining what each challenge might bring.  Clearly I’m a process kind of person.  But I’m proud to say that on this challenge, I actually finished the cake more than a week ahead of time and it’s been burning a hole in my pocket ever since.  Or something like that.
I would trade my world for a piece of that amazing cake right now.  And I don’t just say that about any cake.  This cake was amazing.  Period.  And when I think back on all the Daring Baker challenges I’ve been a part of in the past year, this was the best.  I loved making this cake.  Okay, so peabody’s Strawberry Mirror Cake was a very close second.  But still.

Maybe its wonderfulness was a reminder of childhood.  You know — the long denied poor child whose mother never made that luscious coconut covered cake in the Betty Crocker cook book whose page I can no longer find because it was possibly drooled  on into oblivion.  Of course, I should mention that she gave in and did make the Baked Alaska once, perhaps as a consolation, and most likely because I’d brow beaten her for years over it all.  But the coconut cake….with lemon filling between the layers.  Mmmmm….

I’ll have to ask her why she never made it.  Was it the coconut?  Hmmmm…which finnicky family member may not have liked it and so I was forever denied?

Until now!

So this was my chance.  After all these years, I’d finally get to see what my taste buds would think.  And yes, I do know that after our Lemon Meringue Pie challenge a few months ago, there’ve been quite a few confessions out there about people not particularly liking lemon.  How sad.

It’s such a bright, clean, cheerful flavor.  So fresh.  So…but I do understand, because personally, I’ve never cared for beets. Ugh.  They’re just so…red.  And rooty.  Except when they’re yellow.  But they’re still rooty.  Ahem.

I know.  You’re so over this already and you have 8,000 other blogs to read and all you really want is to see the photos.  You seriously want me to get on with it already.

But it’s my birthday!  Well, actually, it’s my blog’s birthday.  Sass & Veracity was one year old as of March 19th, and so clearly, getting to bake such an amazing cake was perfect!  I can totally tell you’re bowled over with enthusiasm on this news.  w00t?  Think of how difficult it was to not post this cake on my bloggoversary.  I was tempted.  Really, I was.  But the thought of the scandal was more than I could bear, posting ahead of the day…I’m such a rule follower.  Well except for the Lemon Meringue Pie challenge when I cheated on the meringue.

Okay, I’ve blathered long enough.  Credit — tons of it —  for this fabulous challenge choice goes to Morven of Food Art and Random Thoughts.  There seem to be quite a good number of happy bakers in FoodLand about now.  Nice.  If you’re interested in the recipe for the Perfect Party Cake, consider purchasing Dorie Greenspan’s Baking:  From My Home to Yours.

And to keep in the spirit of challenge (because this cake was a delight to make) I’ve decided that since having read that Dorie admires a “neat cook” while skimming blogs one day, I vowed to keep my work area and kitchen clean while I was baking to my heart’s content this month just to see if I could.  Although I usually begin in an organized fashion, by the end of whatever I’m cooking, disaster reigns afterward.


I do have to say in my own defense that we celebrated Easter on Saturday and although I did make the cake on Friday, I prepared the frosting and assembled the cake on the same day I was also baking a whole ham, with all the trimmings of a complete dinner and family arriving at about 2 PM. So please, at this point, notice my clean kitchen.  I promise to show you the disaster at the end.

I also decided to experiment a bit with coconut, since I’m a big fan, and this was my chance.  I was prepared with a bag of sweetened coconut, as well as two fresh coconuts just to see what the possibilities might be.

Continue reading

The Day Julia Child Kicked my Butt


Welcome to the latest adventures of one Daring Baker.  This month I took on a challenge posed by bread guru Mary at The Sour Dough and the lovely Sara of I Like to Cook who really put me to task on this one.  Yessirree.  If you’d like to see the recipe, please visit their sites for the study in wonder.  I could think of a much worse way to spend and entire weekend than with the incomparable Julia Child, whom I love with all my foodie heart and sweet soul.  But this day will forever be referred to as The Day Julia Child Kicked my Butt.

Continue reading

How Not to Puff St. Honore Pastry

Img_1772
Better late than never in getting this post done, I guess.  Since I’ve never done one of the Daring Bakers challenges, the thing I’ve most learned is to plan more effectively.  Like — do it earlier (I was seriously procrastinating because of that darn puff pastry) and post my entry when I’m done, but just don’t publish it.  Sheesh!  Doesn’t sound too complicated, but you’d think I was a walking brain fart or something.  Not rocket science.  Anyhow…being less than satisfied with my results didn’t help.  Why not satisfied?  Although the whole puff pastry experience wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be because my dough seemed beautiful, it didn’t quite “puff.”  That would be the whole concept behind puffing, right?  To puff?  I mean, it isn’t supposed to be called brick pastry, or leather pastry, or rubber pastry.  You do get the idea, don’t you?
Continue reading