Daniel Catalaa

Pizza

Ingredients

Ingredients Amounts for 4 mini-pizzas Amounts for 8 mini-pizzas Explanation
Bread Flour, unsifted (high gluten content) 3 cups 6 cups No need to sift the flour, just add it as it is. Amount of flour to be used will vary (+/- 25%) depending on the humidity of the day and how "thirsty" the bread is.
Whole Wheat Flour 1/2 cup 1 cup
Starter culture 1/2 cup 1 cups A 'starter' is a live culture that is made in advance by mixing flour+water+yeast (see instructions below)
Water, from faucet 1 1/2 cup 3 cups Room temperature tap water works just fine.
Yeast 1/2 tsp 1 tsp I keep the yeast stored in the freezer to prolong its life
Salt 2 tsp 4 tsp
Olive oil 2 1/2 Tbs 5 Tbs

Starter

A starter culture is a natural flavor and texture enhancer that is made in advance. To get the starter going, two weeks prior to making bread, mix together 2 cups of flour with 2 cups of water and 1 tsp of yeast. As it sits in the fridge, in addition to the yeast, beneficial bacteria will also grow within the goo imparting a more complex flavor to the bread. A starter can be kept in your fridge indefinitely as long as you keep on feeding it. To do so, dump or use some of it and replace the lost volume with an equal amount of a 1:1 flour and water mixture (at least once every two weeks).

Instructions:

  1. In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast into the water then add all the remaining ingredients.
  2. Stir with a large spoon until the dough ball comes together. Remove spoon and start kneading the dough within the bowl for 5 minutes.
  3. Coat the dough ball with olive oil and keep it in the bowl to rise until it doubles in size. While rising cover the bowl with a dampened cloth or with Saran wrap.
  4. Once it has doubled in size, place the dough on a lightly flowered counter and flatten it into a long rectangle. Cut the dough into 4 equal parts (single recipe) or 8 equal parts (doubled recipes). Shape the dough portions into balls by tucking the dough into itself while rotating the dough.
  5. all the dry ingredients in a bowl (flour+sugar+salt) to ensure an even distribution. Then mix in wet ingredients (starter, olive oil, and water) and stir with a large sturdy spoon. Note that the yeast in this recipe is not preactivated. Finally, gradually add the water while mixing with a wooden spoon until a ball of dough starts coming together.
  6. Pour the ball of dough onto a counter lightly dusted with flour and kneed for ~10 minutes. Try to work with a slightly tacky dough. Remember, 1/8 to 1/4 cup of the flour is sprinkled on the countertop to ensure that the dough ball slides on the work surface during kneading, and so that it does not attach to your fingers and hands.
  7. Periodically remove a walnut size of dough and perform a windowpane test. Flatten the small dough ball into a mini-pizza disk and stretch it out. When you can stretch it out 2 inches so that the light shines through without the dough tearing it is time to stop kneading.
  8. Form a smooth ball with the dough and place it into a large bowl whose surface has been coated with olive oil. To avoid the formation of crust also lightly coat the top of the dough ball with oil and place a dampened cloth over the mouth of the bowl. I like to spray the sides of the bowl with water to ensure a humid environment in and around the dough ball.
  9. Place the bowl in a warm place and let it rise till it doubles in size (about 1 hour).
  10. Gently pour the risen dough onto the work surface and stretch it out to form a rectangle then fold it in 3 they way you would a letter before putting it into an envelope. Turn the new plumper rectangle formed by 90 degrees and repeat the folding one more time.
  11. Place the shaped bread into a Dutch oven lined with wax paper and coated with olive oil.
  12. Allow dough to rise again (this is called \"proofing\") so that you have light plump dinner rolls or uncooked loafs of dough.
  13. Score shallow incisions (1/8 inch deep) on the top of the dough with a sharp scissors so that the bread does not rise excessively in the vertical direction while it is cooking (otherwise the loaf will have a big head like a mushroom or muffin). Spray the top of the loaf and sides of Dutch oven with water and cover with the lid.
  14. Bake in a 550 Fahrenheit pre-heated oven for 15 minutes. Then lower the heat to 350 Fahrenheit, remove the lid to allow the the top to brown, and bake uncovered for an additional 30 minutes .

Oat bread: for oat bread substitute 1 cup of flour for 1 cup of traditional (slow cook) oats. Note: the dough ball will not rise as high and the resulting bread will be a little denser than regular bread, but just as good in its own way.