Pizza, bread, dough

About five years ago I started making yeast breads and asked my beloved for a pizza stone for my birthday. Thus began the great pizza-making adventure. A good yeast bread isn’t too hard to make, though making great yeast bread took a bit more experimenting. Same with the pizza, a good pizza is easy to make, great pizza takes a bit more thinking, but even failed attempts are delicious.
For yeast breads, I found that I am very happy working with stupidly wet doughs. Though it took a couple of years to get there, it’s worth every ten-minutes-scraping-your-hands-under-the-tap-trying-to-get-the-sticky-dough-off until you realise that you don’t even need to knead this bread all that much. You end up adding a bit more flour when you roll out the pizza bases but the matching loaf made with the leftover dough is wonderfully fluffy with a chewy crust.
Last year I picked up a tub of horlicks intending to make @wholesomeIE‘s malted milk biscuits (which I still haven’t made…) and wondered if there were any other recipes I could use it in. Horlicks is a mix of malt and milk powder, so I wondered if you could use it as a dough improver. A lot of the loaves of yeast bread I made, I used half milk/half water as it gave a softer inside and the bread lasted a two to three days without turning into a rock. It turns out horlicks is a brilliant dough improver. The horlicks bread keeps as well as the milk breads and gets a browner crust thanks to the malt. The pizza crust turns out better than a milk bread pizza crust too. Since I discovered horlicks as a dough improver, I haven’t made a batch without it and have gone through two tubs of horlicks (it’s also nice added to hot chocolate, but made up on its own with milk it’s gross).
As well as owning a pizza stone, I can highly recommend owning dough scrapers. They’re pretty handy for scraping wet dough off surfaces, folding over wet dough, and scraping all the flour up when you’re finished. You can use them to cut dough as well, or move lumps of dough about. After five years of making bread without them, and a few months making bread with them, I would say don’t wait as long as I did to get a pair (one is good, two are better).

Doughscrapers, dredger and horlikcs

Two doughscrapers, dredger and a tub of horlicks. Non essential yet essential, highly recommended

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Dinosaur Cheese Bread

Dinosaur cheese bread

Dinosaur cheese bread

No no, there’s no dinosaur cheese in this bread, sure dinosaurs weren’t mammals so they didn’t make milk! The blobs of gouda on top make me think of dinosaurs (what a dull explanation).

  • 200ml Milk
  • 200ml hot water (not boiling)
  • 5g salt
  • 7g packet active yeast (them sachets you find in the supermarkets, you’ll have to increase the amount if you’re fancy enough to use fresh yeast)
  • 300g strong white flour
  • 300g plain white flour
  • 50g butter (softish)
  • sliced up block of gouda (or other nice cheese, gouda was what we had in the fridge)

Put the flours, yeast and salt into a bowl and mix through. Then pour on the milk and then the hot water (the combination of hot water and cold milk should be a pleasant warm temperature that the yeast will like). Squidge around in the bowl until it all starts to come together, you can then turn it out to knead it or you can just squidge around longer in the bowl (i dont like messing up the countertop until I need to). The dough should be slightly sticky, not totally wet, but definitely not dry. Pop the dough back in the bowl and cover with a lid or a plate or some cling film. Leave on the counter for two hours until all puffy and risen.

Flour your worksurface and turn the dough out on to it. Knead about for a bit (if noone’s ever shown you how to knead dough, fear not, it’s quite easy. Use your left hand to rotate the dough 90degrees, then use the knuckles of your right hand to pick up the dough from underneath and fold it on to it self, rinse and repeat (dont actually rinse the dough, it’s just a saying)). When you’re happy with the ball of dough (you’ll have beaten a lot of the air out of it by now), roll it out into roughly a rectangle about 2 or 3 centimetres thick. Spread (smear) the softened butter about the dough, spread the slices of cheese over two thirds of the area of the rectangle, and roll up along the longest side of the dough. Think of it as a swissroll with cheese instead of icing…. I had some spare cheese that I didn’t expect to fit, so I gave one slice to the handsome man, and the other piece got broken up and dotted on top of the roll.

When you’ve got the bread all rolled up, preheat the oven to about 220ºC. The dough will do some nice rising during this time. When the oven is hot, pop in the bread. After 20 mins turn it down to 180ºC for the last 20minutes of baking. If you think it’s not done, leave it in longer! A crusty crust is better than a doughy middle! Once it’s finished, leave it to cool before slicing. Slicing hot bread usually just makes a squishy mess 🙁 and then share pictures of your masterpiece with twitter!