My week began somewhat craptacularly and by midweek I was ready for comfort food. I offered my boys homemade pizza so while my more awesome half headed out for toppings I began the bread dough. I love bread making. I find the whole process extremely relaxing and rewarding.
I do not own a bread maker so before I embark on pizza for dinner I have to ensure I have a good 2 hours to spare.
Currently I am using the basic bread recipe on the back of the bread improver container. I’m pretty sure no Wallabies have been harmed in the making of their bread improver.
I also do not own a mixer so all my bread, from start to finish, is handmade.
Once I have mixed the ingredients I pull the dough together on a well floured table top and knead it for at least 10 minutes. If the boys are helping I split the dough 3 ways so they can knead the dough too. I like the fact that they can get as rough with it as they like and it is GOOD for the bread. I’m not so generous when I’m making scones!
After making bread a few times you can feel when the dough is becoming smooth and elastic. I always have lots of flour on hand to eliminate stickiness. If the boys are kneading too I rotate our lumps of dough so they get kneaded by each of us (and I know they’re evenly kneaded.)
Gather it together, put it back in the mixing bowl, cover it (I use a couple of tea towels) and leave it somewhere warm for about an hour. In summer this is easy (insanely I do most of my bread baking on summer evenings….) in winter on top of the oven is fine but I have found my dough rises perfectly in winter without any extra heating. Mind you I live no where near anywhere properly cold ( 15 degrees C is a cold day for us) so I’m pretty lucky.
Bashing down the dough is spectacular! Biff! Bash!! Boof!!
I divide it into eight pieces and roll them out. This takes a little patience as the dough is very elastic and is quite insistent on reverting back to a smaller size. I have not the spatial skills nor the hand eye coordination to flick, spin and stretch the dough like a professional pizza chef does but eventually I get a few reasonable size discs of dough….
Now I cover it again and leave it to rise for half an hour. Rising times are perfect for preparing pizza toppings. So after 30 mins you have everything you need for pizza….
Toppings are many and varied. I love roasted eggplant, pumpkin, capsicum and feta. This particular night the fridge presented bacon, capsicum, sweet potato, mushroom and tomato.
Here the boys took over and became artistic.
I had a craving for my favourite style of pizza, calzone, so after the boys had finished and their pizzas were in the oven ( about 20 minutes at 180 degrees C) I prepared my own.
I like pesto on my base but had to make do with tomato based pizza sauce.
I piled up all the toppings on one half of the dough ( I fry up the capsicum, mushroom and bacon first) then fold the dough over and seal the edges with water. Push together with your finger tips.
These little beauties go into the oven for about the same amount of time. Still haven’t worked out how to get a golden finish on them so they look a little anaemic but they are delish. Let them cool a little before you tackle them or your mouth will never forgive you!
Suffice to say this dough therapy wasn’t quite enough to sate me, I ended up baking more bread the following night for Friday’s morning tea at work…….