Sunday, August 16, 2009

Boule Dough (Sue's Squeeze Bread )

This very versatile bread is my absolute favorite! Its very easy to make and it is the base for many different things. You can be used for English Muffins, Pizza Crust, Artisan Bread, etc. Its best when the dough is kept in the fridge overnight -- for up to two weeks -- so you can pull out single-servings really quickly for fresh bread daily even in a hurry!

3 cups water, warm (room temperature)
1 1/2 Tbsp yeast
1 1/2 Tbsp salt
6 1/2 cups flour (half white, half wheat is my preference)

For this recipe kitchen-aid mixers are very helpful, but this dough is wet enough that if you have better hands than mine, they are not necessary.  First, put the water and yeast in the bowl, let it set for a minute, but the yeast does not have to dissolve completely before adding the other two ingredients and mixing until combined.

Let rise for 2 -5 hours. Now, for this bread - DO NOT KNEAD IT or punch it down. It can be used after 2 - 5 hours of rising, but it is best if let for a minimum of overnight in the refrigerator and is good up to 2 weeks.

What to do with your dough the next morning:

English Muffins

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Spoon out dough onto a plate with a layer or corn meal on it. Flatten slightly and coat with corn meal. Cook on an oiled skillet, 350 - 400 degrees for electric skillets, but medium heat on the stove top. Cover with a lid as this allows them to "puff-up". Brown on both sides and serve warm. Put leftover covered but not airtight dough in the refrigerator again for:

Pizza Dough

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Prepare a pizza crust by sprinkling the pizza tray/stone with cornmeal to prevent from sticking.

Sprinkle the surface of the dough with flour, then cut off a 1-pound (grapefruit-sized) piece with a serrated knife or spoon if too soft. Hold the mass of dough in your hands and add a little more flour as needed so it won’t stick to your hands. Gently stretch the surface of the dough on the tray or pizza peel, using a rolling pin if need be.  Let it rest uncovered for about 40 minutes. Depending on the dough’s age, you may see little rise during this period; more rising will occur during baking (I'm impatient so this ended up being only half that time and it still turned out okay, but do what I say not what I do . . .).

Twenty minutes before baking, preheat oven to 375 degrees with a baking stone on the middle rack (if using). Place an empty broiler tray for holding water on the bottom shelf (I used a deep cookie sheet).  Load your pizza with your sauce and/or toppings. I used:

Layer Pasta Sauce
Artichoke Hearts
Olives
Mushrooms
Pineapple

With a forward jerking motion of the wrist, slide the loaf off the pizza peel and onto the baking stone or put your pizza tray in the oven. Quickly but carefully pour about a cup of hot water into the broiler tray and close the oven door to trap the steam. Bake for about 20 minutes, then turn up to 450 for the last 5 minutes of cooking.  Crust should be browned and firm to the touch, I always use a spatula to check underneath to see when its done.

Refrigerate the remaining dough in your lidded (not airtight) container and use it over the next two weeks: You’ll find that even one day’s storage improves the flavor and texture of your bread. This maturation continues over the two-week period. Cut off and shape loaves as you need them. The dough can also be frozen in 1-pound portions in an airtight container and defrosted overnight in the refrigerator prior to baking day.

Sticky Pecan Caramel Rolls

1 1⁄2 pounds pre-mixed dough (cantaloupe size)

TOPPING
5 tbsp vegan margarine, melted
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
30 pecan halves

FILLING
4 tbsp vegan margarine, melted
1/4 cup vegan sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 cup toasted pecans, chopped

Melt the margarine in a small saucepan, add salt and brown sugar and stir. Pour evenly in a 9-inch cake pan. Scatter the pecan halves over the mixture and set aside.

Dust the refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a cantaloupe-sized piece. Dust the piece with flour and shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go. With a rolling pin, roll out the dough to a 1/8-inch thick rectangle. Add only enough flour to prevent it from sticking.

Melt the margarine for the filling and brush onto dough. Next sprinkle the sugar and spices for the filling. Spread evenly over the dough and sprinkle the chopped nuts. Roll the dough into a log. If it’s too soft to cut, chill for 20 minutes or work a little flour into it.

With a serrated knife, cut the log into 8 pieces and arrange over the pecans, with the “swirled” edge facing up. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rest and rise 1 hour (or 40 minutes if you’re using fresh, unrefrigerated dough).

5 minutes before baking time, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Bake about 40 minutes, or until golden brown and set in center. While still hot, run a knife around the pan to release the rolls, and invert immediately onto a serving dish.

Naan

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This delicious Indian flatbread is traditionally made in a huge cylindrical clay tandoori oven, with the wet dough slapped directly onto the oven’s hot walls. For this naan use a hot, cast-iron skillet, or a heavyweight nonstick skillet. Margarine or oil will work instead of Indian clarified butter (ghee) to take out the animal ingredients.

This recipe also has the distinction of being the fastest bread, since it’s done on the stovetop without an oven preheat, and there’s no need to rest the dough. You can easily make one of these just before dinner, even on busy nights (so long as you have the dough in the fridge). Makes 1 naan.

1/4 pound (peach­sized portion) of pre-mixed boule dough
1 tablespoon neutral-flavored oil or margarine

Dust the surface of the refrigerated dough with flour and cut off a 1/4-pound piece. Dust the piece with more flour and quickly shape it into a ball by stretching the surface of the dough around to the bottom on all four sides, rotating the ball a quarter-turn as you go. Using your hands and a rolling pin, and minimal flour, roll out to a uniform thickness of 1/8-inch and a diameter of 8 to 9 inches.

Heat a heavy 12-inch cast­iron skillet over high heat on the stovetop. When water droplets flicked into the pan skitter across the surface and evaporate quickly the pan is ready. Add the margarine or oil.

Drop the rolled dough into the skillet, decrease the heat to medium, and cover the skillet to trap the steam and heat.  Check with a spatula at about 3 minutes, or sooner if you smell overly quick browning to see when it is done. Adjust the heat as needed depending on your stove. Flip the naan when the underside is richly browned.

Continue cooking another 2 to 6 minutes, or until the naan feels firm, even at the edges, and the second side is browned. If you’ve rolled a thicker naan, or if you’re using dough with whole grains, you’ll need more pan time.  Remove the naan from the pan and serve.

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