Sunday, July 27, 2014

Whole Wheat Pizza Crust

I love when I take the time to plan ahead to make a homemade pizza crust for our favorite pizzas.  At the frequency we eat pizza, you would think I would be smart enough to always have one in the freezer, but unfortunately I am not. However a homemade crust can be one of the best parts. This recipe makes two pizza crusts, is not too time intensive and is delicious. Prep time: 20 minutes, Total time: 2 hours.

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/3 cup whole-wheat flour
2 1/2 tsp quick-rise yeast (1 package)
2 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 1/4 cup warm water (110F), + as needed
2 tbsp olive oil

Using a food processor, combine flours, yeast, salt and sugar. Pulse to mix ingredients. With the motor running, in a steady stream add the water and olive oil. Pulse until dough comes together in a rough mass, approximately 15 seconds. If dough does not form into a ball, add more water a tablespoon at a time, until a rough ass forms.  Let rest for 10 minutes. Pulse again for 30 seconds. Dough should be tacky to the touch but not sticky. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and form into a small ball. Lightly oil a bowl and place the dough inside. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm place to rise for approximately 1 1/2 hours.

Once the dough has doubled in bulk and is spongy, punch out the dough on a floured work surface and kneed into a smooth cylinder. Divide the dough into two equal pieces, shaping each into smooth ball. If dough becomes sticky, dust with flour. Cover the each dough with a clean kitchen towel and let rest for 10 minutes before making your pizza. If you are freezing one of the doughs, place in a zip-lock bag and freeze for up to two months. When ready to use, let thaw for 3-4 hours at room temperature. I have also found that if you make this the day before, you can place in the refrigerator overnight. Bring to room temperature a hour before using.

For some great homemade pizza recipes, check out these great recipes: Shaved Asparagus Pizza, Barbecue Chicken Pizza, Butternut Squash & Pesto Pizza and the Fig and prosciutto pizza.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Low Fat Blueberry Banana Muffins

We had a family wedding outside of San Francisco last weekend, which was incredibly fun!  We spent the 2 days leading up to the big event, enjoying all that San Fran has to offer. Not surprisingly,  my tour of the city focused on visiting different bakeries, restaurants, and watering holes.  I had more pastries in a 48 hour period than I usually eat in a month, and every single one of them was delicious and totally worth it.  Unfortunately for me this type of indulgence cannot be continued back in Wi, unless I want to pull out the maternity pants, so when my body went through withdrawal from not eating flaky chocolate filled croissants, I decided to give these low fat muffins a try.  The recipe does not call for any butter or oil, and they still taste delicious.   We blew through a dozen in 2 days!

Low Fat Blueberry Banana Muffins - Recipe from Sally's Baking Addiction
2 and 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour (or mix of whole wheat and all-purpose)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup light brown sugar, loosely packed (or dark brown sugar)
1 cup mashed very ripe banana (about 2 large very ripe bananas)
1/4 cup nonfat vanilla greek yogurt (or any yogurt)
1 large egg, beaten
3/4 cup milk (I used almond milk)
1 and 1/4 cup fresh or unthawed frozen blueberries

Preheat oven to 325F degrees. Spray 15 muffin tins with nonstick spray.* Set aside.
In a large bowl, gently toss the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon together until combined. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, mix the honey and brown sugar together - it will be thick and lumpy. Try to get out as many lumps as you can - a fork works well to break it up. Add the mashed banana, yogurt, and beaten egg. Slowly pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Gently begin to fold it all together. It will be very thick. Add the milk slowly and continue to gently mix the ingredients together. The milk will thin everything out, but the batter will still remain thick. Gently fold in the blueberries. Do not overmix the batter, which will lend tough, dry muffins.

Divide the batter between 12 muffin tins. Fill all the way to the top.  Bake for 17-18 minutes until very lightly browned on the edges. A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean. Allow the muffins to cool completely.

Each muffin is 131 calories each based on using nonfat vanilla greek yogurt and unsweetened almond milk. Muffins taste best the next day, like most banana bread recipes. Muffins remain fresh and moist stored at room temperature for up to 5 days. Muffins freeze well, up to 3 months.

Evidence that I could not control myself at Tartine!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

strawberry rhubarb hand-pies

Hand pies are the perfect picnic dessert, especially for the upcoming holiday weekend!  They are easy to transport, they require zero utensils (or plates for that matter), you just grab and enjoy.  I combined a few different recipes to make these strawberry rhubarb cuties, and they were delicious!

3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon fresh orange zest (optional)
1 1/2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, very cold and cut into small cubes
3/4 to 1 cup buttermilk 

Rhubarb Filling
1 cup finely chopped fresh strawberries
1 cup finely chopped fresh rhubarb
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange peel

To assemble
1 large egg
1 tablespoon water
Coarse sugar

Make pie dough: Whisk together flour, zest, sugar and salt in the bottom of a large bowl. Using a pastry blender, work the butter into the flour until the biggest pieces of butter are the size of tiny peas.  Gently stir in 3/4 cup buttermilk with a rubber spatula, mixing it until a craggy mass forms. Get your hands in the bowl and knead it just two or three times to form a ball. If it doesn’t come together, add remaining 1/4 cup buttermilk, 1 tablespoon at a time, until it does, then gently knead again. Divide dough in half. Wrap each half in plastic wrap and flatten a bit, like a disc. Chill in fridge for at least an hour or up to two days.

Make rhubarb filling: Place rhubarb , strawberries, cornstarch, orange peel and sugar in a small-to-medium saucepan with sugar and stir to combine. Cover and cook at medium-low heat for 15 minutes, no need to stir. Increase the heat to medium, remove the lid and cook for another 10 to 15 minutes, until rhubarb is broken down and ideally thick enough that if you run a spoon across the bottom of the pot, you can see a trench quickly form and disappear.  Spread mixture on a large plate in the fridge or freezer to cool quickly, then scrape into a bowl. Keep cold until needed; it will be thicker and easier to “scoop” onto the pie bases.

Assemble pies: Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line two to three baking sheets with parchment paper. Beat your remaining egg and 1 tablespoon water and keep aside with a pastry brush.

Flour your counter and start rolling your dough by pressing down lightly with the pin and moving it from the center out. Roll it a few times in one direction, lift it up and rotate it a quarter-turn. Continue to do, roll a couple times, lifting the dough and rotating it until the dough is just shy of 1/8-inch thick. Using a biscuit cutter or glass, cut dough into circles. 

Brush half the circles very, very lightly with the egg wash; these will be your bases. Cut a small vent in the other half of the circles; these will be your lids. In the center of each egg washed square, put a small dollop (2TBS) rhubarb filling. Top each filled base with a vented circle. Press outer edge of top and bottom all around to seal with your fingertips; a fork will work as well. Transfer pie to a baking sheet, spacing 1-inch apart. Brush the tops with egg wash and sprinkle generously with coarse sugar. Repeat with remaining dough, including second half from fridge, and fillings.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until puffed and golden, and even more brown at edges. Transfer to cooling racks and cool to room temperature before serving.