Battle Pizza Crust: No Knead Bread Dough

I usually have a bucket of the basic no-knead recipe from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day in my fridge. It is super easy to mix up, lasts a long time, and is my back up bread dough for those days when the fancy bread is stale and I need to make sandwiches for school lunches. Its a good, solid bread dough and really helped launch me into a love of bread baking.

  
Could it be a decent pizza crust?

I have tried this a few times now and come to the conclusion that its “pretty ok” It is better than a frozen pizza or most chain pizza delivery places. I’d put it solidly above the dominoes/papa johns type delivery but below a really great local pizza place. What it lacks in amazingness, it sure does make up for in speed. I had a pizza assembled and ready to cook before my oven was even preheated!

This isn’t my favorite pizza dough by any means but, if you already have some in the fridge, it makes a great speedy dinner option. Its a little bland and could probably greatly benefit by either brushing some melted butter on the edge or sprinkling some Parmesan cheese on it before baking. It was a little hard to get it stretched into a thin enough crust so mine was extra thick. This dough doesn’t have the same elasticity as a good pizza crust has so you have to kind of mush it and stretch it into shape rather than stretch it in the air. This inconsistency in thickness also meant there were some bulges and bubbles in the crust as it baked, so my toppings slid around a little.

  
Overall, I’d give it a B-. Its ok for a quick meal during a football game but its not a crust I’d break out if I had company over.

No Knead Bread Dough

24 ounces lukewarm water
2 pounds AP Flour
1 tablespoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons instant yeast

Combine all ingredients in a large (very large) bowl. I use a 6 quart dough bucket. Mix until the flour is all incorporated, then allow to rise for 2 hours. Either bake from it then, or refrigerate until ready to use.

To use, lightly flour the surface of the dough. Grab a large handful (about a grapefruit size makes a nice loaf) and lop off or tear it. Gently shape into a loaf and allow to rise on the counter for 40 minutes. About halfway through the rise time, heat the oven to 450. Slash the top of the loaf and put it in the oven on a baking stone, if you have one. Bake until golden brown (time will depend on size of loaf).

To use as pizza crust: lop off a similar amount and shape into a circle on a piece of parchment paper. Gently stretch and work the dough into a vaguely pizza like shape, trying to maintain an even thickness. Top and bake immediately for a thinner crust or allow to rise for 40 minutes before topping for a thicker crust.

Basic Sandwich Bread Scrimmage: King Arthur Flour’s Favorite

Slices!

Whew!  I’m back!  Moving sucks, people.  There is no real way around it.  We still aren’t fully unpacked but we have the basics set up and I’m *nearly* back to my normal kitchen routines.

Now that the kids are back in school, it is hardcore sandwich time!  My son takes a PB&J every single day to school and you just know that means I have to bake him bread!  Today’s offering was the Our Favorite Sandwich Bread from King Arthur Flour.  It is a nice basic dough with some milk and butter in it for some richness.

The dough came together beautifully and I only needed to add a little extra flour during kneading to cut down on stickiness.  

kneading

I will admit here that I got carried away unpacking in another room and really let it rise too long on the second rise.  Oops.

overprooved

I don’t know if this over-rising or my lingering unfamiliarity with a new oven was to blame but this loaf came out kind of blonde and soggy on the bottom (though it did firm up as it cooled and hardened up) and a little over browned on top.  Even though it wasn’t the most beautiful loaf, it was really delicious!  It was soft but not overly so–we aren’t talking bunny bread or anything here. The flavor was much richer than the previous sandwich bread I had tried–the non swirled version of Cinnamon Swirl Bread which was a dough with much less dairy and fat in it than this new recipe. Overall, I liked it…but the baking trouble means I need to give it one more go before I decide if it is a keeper.

bread!

King Arthur Flour’s Favorite Sandwich Bread
1 cup (8 ounces) milk
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick, 1 ounce) butter or margarine
2 teaspoons instant yeast or 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast

2 tablespoons (7/8 ounce) sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
3 cups (12 3/4 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

Heat the milk to simmer on the stove or, like me, in the microwave.  Add the butter and, once it cools, the yeast.  Let that start bubbling while you measure out the dry ingredients.  Combine them all and knead for 8 minutes or until the dough is nice and smooth.

Transfer to an oiled bowl and allow to rise for about an hour.  Mine nearly doubled in size but not quite.  Then, shape it into a loaf and plop it in your 9×4 loaf pan.  Allow it to rise for another hour (I forgot mine for two full hours here) until it is an inch above the rim of the pan.  Bake 30-35 minutes at 350 or until golden brown.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Craziness: Slice & Bake “In the Chips”

cookie

I’m pretty sure chocolate chips cookies were the first thing I ever baked as a tiny kid. I remember it feeling like a huge all day undertaking with the waiting for the butter to soften, mixing everything together and then waiting for all the cookies to bake and cool. Maybe I’m just more patient these days but cookies seem like an easy thing to whip together with the kids.

mixing1

Stand mixers help, too.

somanychips

I like my chocolate chip cookies soft and chewy with A LOT of chips. Why bother with a cookie that has 2 or three chips? The cookie part is tasty but it is really just a vehicle to get chocolate to my piehole.

readytobake

This is one of my favorite recipes. It is perfectly chewy, makes a good amount of cookies (I love them but I don’t need enough to last a month), and has just the basic ingredients. Its also a very sweet dough which really satisfies my sweet tooth. Even though I love this recipe, it is time to branch out and start another quest for the perfect recipe. Can I improve on perfection? We shall see.

done

This recipe originally comes from a great book on cookies that can be frozen in dough form for instant gratification cookies from the freezer. I’ve tried a few of the recipes and they are excellent though I haven’t actually made it to the freezing stage–they are too good to not all bake up at once! I only made a few slight changes–switching out the instant coffee/water mixture in the recipe for milk being the main one.

Chocolate Chip and Chunk Cookies
Adapted from “In the Chips” from Slice & Bake Cookies by Elinor Klivans

2 cups/255 g bread flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tblsp milk
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2.5 cups of chocolate chips and chunks

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Set aside.

Cream butter and sugars in the bowl of your stand mixer. Add milk, vanilla, and eggs (one at a time, mixing until combined). Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed. Add flour mixture in two parts, slowly mixing until just combined.

Remove from mixer and add chocolate chips by hand.

I used a #40 scoop which yields 24-26 cookies and baked for 13 minutes.

These are nice, soft cookies that would be excellent candidates for mailing!