Pizza Focaccia Bread – Ready in 1 Hour

This is a new favorite in our house.  A fresh and flavorful pizza bread that can be made and ready to serve in an hour.  Yes, you heard me correctly, 1 hour!   And if you’re intimidated by making bread have no fear…  Seriously, this recipe is great for beginner bread makers.

Pizza Focaccia Bread

3/4 c. warm water

1/2 tsp. sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

1 1/2 tsp. yeast

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour

Toppings

1/4 c. pizza sauce

1/2 c. mozzarella cheese

8 slices pepperoni, cut into small pieces

2 dashes of Italian seasoning

Spray a 9” pie plate with non-stick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, add water, sugar, salt, and yeast.  Let sit for a couple minutes.  Add oil and flour; mix thoroughly.  On a lightly floured surface knead dough for about 1-2 minutes.  Place dough in the prepared pie plate and press out.  Poke holes in the dough (as shown below).

Top dough with pizza sauce, pepperoni, and cheese (as shown below).  Sprinkle Italian seasoning on top.

Cover with a clean dish towel and let rise for 20 minutes;  bake for 20 minutes.  Serve warm.

I like to dip this bread in fresh pizza sauce.  It makes a great appetizer, compliments a fresh salad, and can be served with a meal.

Either way, it won’t last long – I guarantee it!

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Homemade Sweet Rolls with a Secret Ingredient (Pumpkin)

IN CASE YOU MISSED THIS RECIPE THE FIRST TIME AROUND, I’M SHARING IT AGAIN!

THE JOY OF CAKING

One of my most favorite baked treats is the one I tend to make least often.   That might be a good thing for my waistline, but I’ve decided that is just plain unacceptable.

Now, many of you probably call these cinnamon rolls, but from the time I was a little girl I’ve known them as sweet rolls.   Making homemade sweet rolls can take a little time out of your already busy schedules but there isn’t nothing like um…

These rolls have a soft and chewy texture, and their yellow color is a result of using my secret ingredient – pumpkin.   And while I’m talking about the color yellow, some of you have noticed that many of my baked goods tend to be more yellow than other similar recipes.  That’s because I use our very own farm fresh eggs that our busy little chickens lay for us each day.  The…

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Easy Garlic Parmesan Focaccia Bread

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a hundred times; I love simplicity.  And I feel strongly that way about the food I eat too.  That’s why this focaccia bread recipe is one of my new favorites.  It’s simple to make and tastes delicious, and it takes less than an hour to throw together – and bake!

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I really wish I could take the credit for this focaccia bread recipe but I can’t.  I found this recipe at the blog Crunchy Creamy Sweet.  There are only two things that I changed when I made this recipe.  The first, I added one clove of crushed garlic to the butter, parmesan, and Italian seasoning mixture.  And the second, I made my focaccia bread in a pie plate (not a cast iron skillet) since I was transporting my bread to a dinner we were invited to.  

I don’t want to steal Anna’s thunder where this recipe is concerned so I’m sending you directly to her site to get the recipe.  Trust me, you’ll be glad that I did.  If you are anything like me, you won’t be able to stop browsing all of her other mouth watering recipes either.

Just a few remarks about this recipe.  The dough was nice and tender making the bread light and airy –  a very good thing in my book.  This recipe is also very adaptable.  I was thinking the next batch I make might be a Southwestern version served with a dollop of barbequed pulled pork and fresh slaw on top.  What do you think?

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Sourdough Starter

My mother in-law gave me the June issue of The Oprah Magazine to read after she finished it.  I have found so much good reading in this issue.  Every time I leaf through it I find something I missed the first, second, and third time around.

One thing I didn’t miss the first time around was a recipe for sourdough starter.  I’ve never made sourdough bread before so of course I was eager to try it. 

Today is day one…

Just as I was starting this post I decided to take a quick trip over to Wikipedia to conduct a little research on sourdough, and boy was I intrigued.  Here are a few things that I learned about sourdough starter.

Sourdough starter is based on a biological and chemical process where fermentation will take place and no yeast is needed.

The only two ingredients needed to start this process are flour and water and they act as a natural leaven.

Unbleached flour will produce more micro-organisms (a good thing) than processed flours. 

The volume of the starter increases with the addition of water and flour (called refreshments) over several days.

Using dough from a previous batch of starter is called mother dough.  The original culture can be used for years without spoiling.

The flavor of sourdough bread can vary.  It’s all contingent on the method used, the hydration of the starter, the final dough, the refreshment ratio, the length of the fermentation periods, ambient temperature, humidity, and the elevation.

Sourdough was thought to have originated in Ancient Egypt.

Experienced miners and early settlers in Alaska and Canada use to carry a pouch of starter with them during the Klondike Gold Rush.  They would try to keep the starter from freezing but they didn’t realize that freezing it wouldn’t kill it, but heat could.  (Salt-Rising dough is the opposite – it  thrives on heat.)

Sourdough is associated with San Francisco’s culture which started back during the California Gold Rush days.

Sourdough Starter Recipe from Oprah Magazine (for step-by-step instructions click here.

Mix 2 cups of unbleached flour with 1 1/2 cups warm, filtered water in a bowl and stir.  Cover this cheesecloth; place near an open window. 

Stir the batter every 12 hours for 2-3 days, then add 1 cup flour and enough water to return it to the original consistency.  Keep stirring a few times a day until you see a layer of foam an inch thick.

Combine 1 cup starter with 3 1/2 cups flour, and a dash of salt.  Let dough rise overnight at room temperature. Shape into a loaf; wait for it to triple in size. Bake at 375 degrees. When your ready to bake again, use the leftover mixture stored in your refrigerator to start the next loaf.

Now, I have to tell you that I did not have unbleached flour so I used bleached.  I think it will be interesting to see if it hinders the growth process.  I’ll keep you posted.

Have you ever made sourdough bread before?  Any tricks you’d like to share? 

And what’s after sourdough bread?  Salt-rising bread.  I will need to hunt down my grandmother’s recipe for this one.

Homemade Sweet Rolls with a Secret Ingredient (Pumpkin)

One of my most favorite baked treats is the one I tend to make least often.   That might be a good thing for my waistline, but I’ve decided that is just plain unacceptable.

Now, many of you probably call these cinnamon rolls, but from the time I was a little girl I’ve known them as sweet rolls.   Making homemade sweet rolls can take a little time out of your already busy schedules but there isn’t nothing like um…

These rolls have a soft and chewy texture, and their yellow color is a result of using my secret ingredient – pumpkin.   And while I’m talking about the color yellow, some of you have noticed that many of my baked goods tend to be more yellow than other similar recipes.  That’s because I use our very own farm fresh eggs that our busy little chickens lay for us each day.  The yolks in fresh eggs are so much darker and richer than the eggs you purchase in a grocery store.  And why?  I’m not certain, but I did read somewhere that grocery store eggs are at least 45 days old before they are available for purchase.   I suppose that might have something to do with it.

Homemade Sweet Rolls

Makes about 1 1/2 dozen rolls.

Dough

1/4 c. margarine

1/2 c. granulated sugar

1/2 c. milk

1 1/4 tsp. salt

1 egg, beaten

1 tbsp., plus 1 tsp. of yeast

1 c. hot water

1/2 c. canned pumpkin

5 c. all-purpose flour, plus 1 1/4 c. for kneading

Filling

1 c. brown sugar, packed

1 tbsp. cinnamon

1/4 c. margarine, softened (for spreading on the dough)

Icing

1 1/4 c. powdered sugar

1/2 tsp. vanilla

1 – 2 tbs. milk

Put margarine, sugar, milk and salt into a saucepan; heat until margarine melts.  In large bowl, add yeast, 2 cups of flour, egg, pumpkin, and hot water; mix completely.  Add remaining flour and mix thoroughly.  *Note – the dough will be sticky but you want it that way.  On a floured surface, using some of the flour you’ve set aside for kneading, knead the dough until it is no soft, tender, and just slightly sticky.  Form into a ball and place in a greased bowl.  Cover with greased plastic wrap and let rise until double.

Grease a 9”x13” pan.  Line the bottom of the pan with a piece of parchment paper and lightly grease the top of the paper.

Once dough has doubled, punch down and cut in half.  With a rolling pin, roll each half in equal sized rectangular shapes (about 1/2“ thick). Spread softened margarine on top of the dough, and sprinkle prepared brown sugar filling equally on each piece.  Starting with the longest side of the rectangle, roll each piece into a log.  With a sharp knife, cut the dough into (about 1 1/2”) slices and place into prepared pan – just so they aren’t touching.  Cover with greased plastic wrap and let rise until doubled.

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Bake in 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes, or until rolls sound hollow when tapped.  Let cool, and prepare icing.

In a bowl, thoroughly mix sugar, vanilla and milk.  Drizzle over top of warm sweet rolls.

One thing that’s worth mentioning – when I make sweet rolls I usually cut the very ends off of the logs so that each piece will be equal in size.  Most of the time I will fit the odd pieces into the pan between the perfectly shaped rolls.  If you are serving the pan of rolls to company and you want them to look perfect then toss the ends out.  I just hate to waste deliciousness!

I divided this pan of rolls up and put most of them in the freezer. When I need them (yes, need) I’ll thaw a package and breakfast is served.

Do you freeze baked goods for a rainy day? Or, are you saying what rainy day?

Tying the Knots

For quite some time I’ve been salivating over a recipe for homemade garlic knots that I found in a Cook’s Country magazine. 

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Being busy and all, I opened the magazine to the recipe page and set it on my work table in my craft room just as a reminder that one of these days I would have to make these little lovelies.

Today was dreary.  Dark clouds have descended upon us.  The sunshine, well what sunshine?  Gone…  And because of this, I decided there was no better day to fill the house with the delicious aroma of garlic and yeast.

This is my adapted version of the recipe. 

Garlic Parmesan Knots

12 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 tsp. plus 3/4 c. hot water

2 tsp. yeast

1 tsp. salt

2 c. all-purpose flour

Parmesan cheese

Bring oven to 200 degrees and turn-off.

In a skillet, add 1 tbsp. of olive oil, crushed garlic, and 1 tsp. of water.  On low heat, sauté until garlic turns a very light golden brown.  (Don’t overcook – this will make the garlic taste bitter).

In  large bowl, add 1 tbsp. olive oil, 3/4 c. hot water, yeast, and salt.  Let the yeast set until it starts to work.  Add flour, and mix thoroughly until all ingredients are combined.

Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface.  Knead into a smooth ball.

Grease a bowl with non-fat cooking spray and put dough ball in it.  Cover with plastic wrap and place in pre-warmed oven.  Allow dough to rise until double.  About 50-60 minutes.

Remove dough from the oven.  Turn out onto lightly floured surface.  Punch down, and reshape into a ball. 

Cut  dough into equal sized smaller balls – bigger than a golf ball, but smaller than a tennis ball.

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Using your hands, roll balls into strips about 10 inches long; tie into knots.  Place onto parchment paper lined baking sheet.

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Cover baking sheet with plastic wrap and return to (turned-off) oven.

Once knots have doubled, about 20 minutes, remove from oven and remove  plastic wrap.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.  Bake knots for about 5 minutes, remove from oven and brush knots lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Return to oven and bake until light golden brown, about 5-8 minutes. Remove knots and brush lightly with olive oil.  Enjoy while warm and fresh…

These knots weren’t quite as chewy or yeasty as I expected them to be, but they definitely hit the spot on a damp fall night here in the Finger Lakes.