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Posts tagged ‘baking’

on pita & filling our pockets

Making your own pocket bread may not be the thing for you. Do you have some leisure hours on one of your weekend days that you might like to spend playing with soft little pillows of dough? Do you find it a thing of pleasure to create something from scratch, something you can easily grab off the shelf, machine-made and already shrink-wrapped for you in plastic? Would it thrill you (just a tiny bit?) to watch flat pancakes fill like hot-air balloons in your oven while the aromas of a bakery fill your house?   hmmm! – well -

then…

PitaBread-5

Pita  – from your own oven

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makes 16 pita pockets

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1 Tablespoon active dry yeast (or 1 package)

2½ cups lukewarm water

¼ teaspoon sugar

Approximately 6 cups unbleached white bread flour  (or unbleached all-purpose flour)

1½ – 2 teaspoons salt

3 Tablespoons vegetable or extra-virgin olive oil

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 Into a large bowl, pour ½ cup of warm water and stir in the yeast to dissolve. Add the sugar. When the mixture begins to froth (proving that the yeast is still lively) stir in the remaining 2 cups of water. Gradually add 3 cups of flour, 1 cup at a time, stirring vigorously. (You may either do this by hand, or with a stand-mixer.) You’ve now made a “sponge”. Allow it to rest for 10 minutes, or until it too froths.

Stir in the salt and 2 Tablespoons of the oil and mix together well. Gradually add the remaining flouryou may need less than the total amount specified – once you have a dough that holds together into a ball and isn’t sticking wetly to your hands, you’ve added enough flour.

(Because the flour hydrates gradually – and depends on ambient humidity amongst other things – if you add large amounts of flour all at once, you can overshoot the mark. All would not be lost…just add a bit more water – gradually – to find that happy balance.)  

Knead well by hand in the bowl, or on a floured board, ten minutes or so; or in a stand mixer using the dough hook for maybe 7 minutes. You’re looking for a smooth, shiny and elastic dough that no longer sticks to your fingers when held for several seconds. Dust with a bit more flour occasionally if it proves too sticky. Form it into a ball.

Put the remaining tablespoon of oil into the bowl and roll the ball of dough around so as to grease it all over. (This prevents a crust from forming on it.) Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave in a comfy warm place free of drafts for about 2 hours, until doubled in bulk.

Preheat the oven to 500°F (260°C), placing a large baking sheet in the hottest part. (Generally about ¼ of the way up from the bottom.) Allow it to preheat for 20 minutes.

Punch the dough down and then knead again for several minutes. Divide the dough in half. Divide the first half into 8 “equal” lumps and roll these into balls.

PitaBread-1PitaBread-2

PitaBread-3

On a lightly floured surface, using either your hands or a rolling pin dusted with flour, flatten each lump into a “pancake” about 7 or 8 inches across and 1/8 to ¼-inch thick.  Spread a kitchen towel on your counter and sprinkle it with flour. Dust each of the rounds with flour and arrange on the cloth, leaving an inch between them.  Cover these with another flour-dusted cloth and allow them to rest for 20 minutes at room temperature. (If your counter is particularly cold, you could leave them to rest them slightly longer.)

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this little light…..& shortbread cookies

for those of us who live north of the equator, we’re only 4  days from the darkest day of the year. But for many among us, it felt as though last Friday must surely have been that day.

. . .

in this hurting world

don’t think that for one moment

your light goes unnoticed.

don’t think for an instant that your light,

just now, is too dim to shine for anyone.

. . .

don’t believe that what we face

is either too big or too complicated,

or that our little light

is powerless

in the creeping shadow of it.

. . .

in this hurting world, the one thing,

the one thing, we can each do

is let our own light shine.

whatever shape or brilliance your candle,

it is exactly what the world needs…

this shimmering little light

that is yours alone

to share.

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LemonShortbread&Light-7-2________

Sometimes, when it feels like sadness might overtake us,

we bake.

something so small.

An unseen part of us knows though that an ancient comfort

is resident in our kitchens. When hope seems dim, or our candle flickers,

and we really haven’t much of a clue where to put our sorrow,

we can always bake cookies to share.

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LemonShortbread&Light-11

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these little shortbreads are aromatic and truly lovely. if you already know and love lavender in the kitchen, go for the full teaspoon. if you’re trying for the first time, you might start with the smaller amount. but if you don’t have lavender at all, it can be omitted. or try replacing it with ¼ to a scant ½ teaspoon fresh rosemary, very finely minced. (Culinary lavender is easily obtained on-line.)

however, if chocolate is your flavor, a recipe for chocolate shortbread follows.

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Lemon Lavender Shortbread

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½ cup butter at room temperature

½ cup powdered sugar (unsifted)

2 teaspoons grated lemon peel

¾ to 1 teaspoon culinary lavender  (see above) 

¼ teaspoon lemon extract

1 cup flour

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Cream the butter until light and fluffy. Drop the powdered sugar into a small bowl. Mince very finely the zest of lemon and the lavender and add them to the powdered sugar. Add the lemon extract.  Stir to mix; then add to the butter and cream together. Work in the flour, scraping the bowl as you go.  Once the dough has mostly come together, remove to an unfloured board and knead  until nice and smooth.

Either spray with non-stick vegetable spray or brush a thin layer of vegetable oil on the bottom and sides of your pan. Firmly press the dough into the pan. (I used a clay pan with Scottish thistle imprinted on it, but an 8-inch round cake pan or 9-inch pie tin will work just fine!) Prick the entire surface with a fork and bake at 325°F (165°C) for about 30 to 35 minutes, or until lightly browned. Set the timer and allow the shortbread to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Loosen the edges with a knife and flip the pan over onto a wooden cutting board. (If it doesn’t release right away, tap one edge of the pan.) Cut the shortbread into 8 pieces while still warm.

( to print lemon lavender recipe, click. )

LemonShortbread&Light-12

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lavender blueberry scones

Imagine this … a little girl turning 4. She tells her mother she knows exactly what she wants for her birthday. She’ll ask all her funnest of friends to dress in their finest of fine. She’ll tell them each to bring along their favorite furry stuffed companion.  And they’ll all come, laughing and tittering to her tea party! The stuffed friends will have their own table with their own tea set and treats. { They’ll get to know each other this way.}  And all the girls will gather around a table set with floral linens, lace doilies, silver tea service, brilliant bouquets of flowers, all sorts of fruits in bite-size, and scones in miniature. { Some will even practice speaking in their idea of a good British accent. } And when their tummies are full they can all retire to the lawn out back and be blindfolded and spun and play pin the cup on the saucer; then they’ll take turns (being as how they’re young ladies) swinging upside down like monkeys from the swing set!

This was Clara’s idea of the perfect birthday party.

Not a one of us could disagree.

When Clara was first learning to say her name, she called herself Lala. We’ve a hard time calling her anything but Lala ever since because Lala somehow suits her best.

~  She’s a sweet little song in the mouth, that girl!  ~

And thus, we’ve named these little treats…

Lala’s Lavender & Blueberry Buttermilk Scones

2 cups all-purpose flour

¼ cup + 1 Tablespoon lavender sugar (See NOTE)

1½ teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1 stick ( 4 ounces ) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

2/3 cup ( approximately ) buttermilk

1/4  to 1/3 cup dried blueberries

2 Tablespoons butter melted ( for brushing )

several tablespoons lavender sugar ( for sprinkling )

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NOTE: to make  lavender sugar  (a treat more scrumptious than perhaps you can imagine!) :

Place 1 Tablespoon culinary lavender (you can find sources on line or I’ll share one at the bottom of the post)

along with 1 Tablespoon sugar in a little spice grinder. Whir til all the bits are fully incorporated into the sugar. (This will be a fine lavender-y powder.) Now stir this in with 2 cups of granulated sugar. Mix thoroughly. Store in a lidded jar. Wait about 2 days before using, and then use frequently – on sliced fruits (berries, peaches)! Dusting cookies. In your tea. In dozens of desserts to replace regular sugar. Once you’ve tasted this sweetness you’ll figure it out!

I’ve used a mini-scone pan for these, but you can make them without. Simply cut as instructed and lay out about 1/4-inch apart on a baking sheet.

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Preheat oven to 375F (190C)

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Add the cold butter pieces and, using your fingers, squeezing the pieces of butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Allowing some largish pieces of butter to remain will add to the scones’ flakiness. Add the dried blueberries and stir.

Pour in  2/3 cup of buttermilk and, using a fork, mix only until the ingredients are just moistened. What you’ll have at this point is a soft dough with a rather rough look. (If the dough is dry and crumbly add 1 teaspoon or so more buttermilk.)

Gather the dough into a ball, pressing it together gently until it holds together. Turn it out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead it briefly. About a dozen turns should do the trick.

Before kneading.

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life is just …

a   c h a i r  of   b o w l i e s …

…but as always, that depends on your perspective.

I went out to collect the mail and – it must be my lucky day - I received my first (does one get a second?) Free Pre-Paid Cremation! notice (details inside.) Well, that’s going up in smoke!

And then, I was heading out to a great little farmers’ market when I learned I needed to be home in case either of two inspectors came by to look at our bathrooms.

So, with my market plan foiled, and suddenly feeling older than dirt, I played with what I had, and what I had were organic Rainier cherries picked from a nearby orchard.

I’d bought enough of them to do several things.

But cherries have this cuteness factor that I wanted to capitalize on, so… it’s to be

Cherry Clafoutis

first!

Clafoutis are definitely cute too.

And – proving this truly WAS my lucky day – I already had everything I needed to make them.

Clafoutis are French flans or custards, flavor-infused, with various fruits baked inside. There is some debate as to whether to remove the pits of the cherries or leave them in. Those in favor of leaving them in believe that the pits actually impart a subtle deliciousness of their own. The option is yours. But…For a child to lift a little red globe by its stem from a pillowy custard, pop it into her mouth – with the option of spitting the pit, if permitted – seems reason enough to leave them in.  Don’t be fooled…adults love to spit them too. It is said.

Cherry Clafoutis

These can be made in either one 12-inch mold or six 8-ounce ramekins and serve 6

  • Unsalted butter, for the mold or ramekins
  • ½ cup (100 g. or 3½ oz) blond cane sugar, plus more to sprinkle the mold(s)
  • ¾ cup plus 2 Tablespoons (200 ml) whole milk
  • ¾ cup plus 2 Tablespoons (200 ml) unsweetened coconut milk *
  • 1 vanilla bean, split open and seeds scraped out
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup (40 g or 1¾ oz) millet flour
  • ¼ cup (30 g or 1 oz) almond meal
  • ¼ cup (30 g or 1 oz) cornstarch
  • 2 Tablespoons melted unsalted butter
  • 1 pound 5¼  oz (600 g) ripe sweet or sour cherries (such as Rainier or Bing)
  • Confectioners’ sugar to dust

* You could substitute heavy cream for the coconut milk if you prefer

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Butter either a 12-inch mold or six 8-oz cup ramekins, and sprinkle with sugar. Tap out the excess.

In a small saucepan, heat the milk and coconut milk (or cream) with the vanilla seeds and bean. Heat to just under a boil, then turn the heat off. Add almond extract and cover the pot with a lid. Allow the milk to infuse with flavor for 15 minutes. Then strain and set aside.

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cookie thanks

If you follow along, you know that we’ve been on a remodeling adventure for the past month and a half. For about 4 weeks we were without a true kitchen as cabinets were refinished, and new counters, appliances, sinks, faucets and lighting were all added. I’m back in the kitchen now and loving again the sweet rhythms of cooking!

The work in our house continues though as two bathroom have been gutted and are undergoing a complete head-to-toe makeover. To give you a feel for the activity level around here, take this past Friday as an example –  moving through the house, performing as if choreographed, with their own specialized tools, were 2 carpenters, 2 drywallers, 2 electricians and 3 tile-setters (all at once). Add to that a couple of dogs (and me) and you see there’s no lack of good company.  How do we say thanks? Sometimes simply with cookies.

These are a take on the classic peanut butter cookie – BUT – with almond-butter & roasted almonds instead – and with whole grains like whole wheat, quinoa and millet flours. (Quinoa & millet flours both contribute to a softer texture and add much more protein than traditional wheat flour. If you don’t have access to the specialty flours or simply want to use all wheat, use 1½ cups whole wheat flour. These will not be quite as tender however…but don’t let that stop you!) There’s no added fat here, only that found in the almond butter. And (it was said) these are were absolutely delicious!

A few sweet & (sort of) healthful bites for the many helping hands…

Almond-Butter Cookies with dry-roasted Almonds

1 cup smooth almond butter (I use & love the roasted variety)

½ cup dark brown sugar, packed

½ cup granulated sugar (or substitute with coconut sugar)

¼ cup water

1 large egg

2 Tablespoons honey

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon almond extract

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon sea salt

¾ cup whole wheat flour

½ cup quinoa flour

¼ cup millet flour

2½ ounces (about ½ cup) slivered almonds

Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Line 1 or 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Spread slivered almonds over a cookie sheet and roast until golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool a few minutes, then chop into medium fine pieces. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, measure out the whole wheat flour, millet flour, quinoa flour, salt and baking soda. Stir well to incorporate.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, if you have one: Cream together the almond butter, the 2 sugars, water, egg, honey, and vanilla and almond extracts until smooth. Add the dry ingredients, including chopped almonds. Mix until well-combined (but don’t over-beat.)

Drop dough onto the prepared baking sheets by the tablespoonful. Use the back of a fork dipped in flour to make indentations in a crosshatch pattern, flattening cookies to about 1/3-inch.  (Allow for at least 1-inch of space between flattened cookies because they will expand some upon baking.)

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rhubarb apple tart & tulips on the table

we all bring something to the table. what are our gifts? what of ourselves do we decide to grow and then share? what love language do we speak? do we learn to speak another’s? how well do we listen?

my husband learned years ago that i love flowers. in the beginning he would order elaborate flower arrangements (full to overflowing) and have them delivered to the door. then, somewhere along the line, he learned i like simple, and all of one thing. and now, he brings me bundles wrapped in paper, wound with string, carried in his own man arms. and sometimes, after days away, blooms are there, welcoming me home again.

if you’ve been with me awhile, you’ve heard of my fear of pie. (more truly, it was fear of a colossal-y failed crust.) i’ve done truly brave things in my life (i’ll even cop to a “reckless” act or two) but pie crust? why and how this fear (irrational to begin with) grew to be such a beast, you might guess. but for years i steered clear of the rolling pin. then, only fairly recently, i decided to stand toe to toe with that tiger, stare unflinching into his golden eyes.

that tiger walks beside me now, purring like a kitten. and finally (and this is reason enough to take on a tiger) i can make my love his apple pie.

Apple Rhubarb Tart

I’ve shared my recipe for a tart shell in an earlier post. (see French Lemon Tart if you want to be tempted!) I’ll include the crust recipe here too, at the end of the post. I’d like to be humble about this, but after years of being humble, to finally be proud seems like something worthy of sharing. So here’s the un-softened, un-humble truth. This crust is   a.w.e.s.o.m.e.

A word about the filling: I grew up eating and loving rhubarb. To me, it’s a thing of spring. So as a base for this pie is a thick rhubarb “compote” of sorts – the liquid cooked out of it and nothing but the essence of the fruit remaining, lightly sweetened, imbued with the scented seeds from a vanilla pod and touched with a hint of cardamon. Apples, rolled in melted butter and brown sugar twirl across the top. Serve as is, warm from the oven, with or without ice-cream or crème fraîche. Or serve it chilled. It’s not too sweet for brunch or tea.

the Fillings

the rhubarb

  • 1 pound rhubarb stalks
  • 2/3 cup dark brown sugar or muscavado
  • 1/3 vanilla bean
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom

the apple

  • 2 apples – Granny Smith or Pink Lady are good (or any other apple that will hold its shape while cooking)
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 Tablespoons dark brown sugar or muscavado

Wash the rhubarb stalks. Split in half lengthwise, then cut into pieces about 1/2-inch or smaller. Put in a medium-size heavy pot. Split the piece of vanilla bean in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds, adding both the pod and seeds to the pot. Drop in the brown sugar and cardamom.

Place the lid on the pot and cook over low heat for 15 minutes or until saucy. (No water in this compote – the low heat will encourage the rhubarb to release its own moisture.)

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muffin madness

It’s time I told you of some plans. On Wednesday April 4th I’ll be heading out of town, gone for 9 days. Gone to meet, to hold and to fall in love with our family’s newest and littlest little. Besides nuzzling of soft powdery neck and losing my heart again, I’ll be preparing some meals, hiding-and-seeking, story-telling and tending to Ali, the  littles’ mama.

In anticipation, yesterday was largely spent in the kitchen, making muffins (and more & more muffins) and two batches of granola. We’ll all be pretty busy at breakfast time, so a bowl of yogurt topped with fruit and crunchy granola, or nutritious muffins in one hand and baby in the other will put us one leg up on the day.

GratefulGuineaPig is out of town and comes home in the afternoon of the same morning I leave. Our ships will pass in the night, so I’ve left him some muffins for breakfast too.

Earlier I posted a recipe for the Morning Glorious Muffins. You can find them here.

In the basket, Morning Glorious Muffins.

Earlier I posted a recipe for the above muffins. You can find them here.

But the muffin I’m about to share with you is ta-da   G l u t e n   F r e e.  That matters to an increasing number of eaters out there. And what I’m discovering in sampling some of these g-f recipes is that the baked goods that result are extremely Tender & surprisingly Delicious! A number of them win the taste test over traditional flour recipes, with hands tied behind their backs. (I’d have lost good money if I’d bet on that one.) Here’s one plucked from the pages of La Tartine Gourmande that I thought you’d like!

Millet, Oat & Apple Muffins

 Made with a combination of flours -

Quinoa flour – wheat-free, gluten-free, an ancient grain that adds a richness of flavor as well as a complete protein.

Millet Flour - one of the earliest cultivated grains (5,000 years ago in China!) it has a sweet flavor, high in amino acids and fiber and contributes a delicate, cake-like crumb to the baked goods it’s in. Again, easily digested and gluten-free.

Add in Gluten-Free Rolled Oats, tahini, grated apple, and this muffin packs a nutritional wallop and starts the day off right. 

Millet, Oat & Apple Muffins – Gluten-free

makes 10 muffins

  • 2 large eggs
  • ½ cup (80 g, 2¾ oz.) Muscovado sugar (or substitute with brown sugar)
  • 2 Tablespoons tahini (sesame butter)
  • 3½ tablespoons (50 g) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • ½ cup (60 g, 2 oz) millet flour
  • ¼ cup (30 g) quinoa flour
  • ½ cup (50 g) rolled oats, plus more for topping
  • Pinch sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup (175 g, 6 oz) finely grated pink lady apples or substitute (peeled & cored)

Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a muffin tin with 10 paper muffin cups, or use silicone muffin molds.

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olive oil & red grape cake

If I were to name my sweet weakness, cake wouldn’t be it. Once every blue moon though comes a cake with that certain something that causes my knees to wobble and my will to crumble. Enter this cake.

Generally cakes tend to be a bit sweet for me, sugar muscling out every other taste sensation. This cake is sweet enough to be called a cake, but doesn’t overpower the palate with sugar. My own sweet weakness is for fruit desserts and most cakes are rather wussy in the fruit department. This cake is deliciously fragrant with citrus, both lemon and orange, and has purply bursts of fresh grape. Many cakes are made of more than a dozen ingredients. This has 8 very simple ones. There’s only 1 cup of flour in this 9-inch cake. The lightness and golden color come from eggs. The exquisite richness, from a fruity olive oil (to name another weakness.) This is a fine-textured, delicately scented, out-of-the-ordinary cake quite perfect for finishing a meal.  And if sweet tea-time be your weakness, could I suggest…

Citrusy Olive Oil & Red Grape Cake

  • 5 eggs, separated
  • ¾ cup (155 g) sugar, with more for sprinkling
  • ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil, more for brushing*
  • Zest and juice of 1 large lemon
  • Zest of 1 orange
  • 1 cup (125 g, 5 ounces) cake flour sifted
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 9 ounces (250 g) seedless red grapes

You’ll need a 9-inch (23 cm) springform pan. 

* I recommend a light or sweet & fruity sort – avoid the pungent peppery kind you might love dipping your bread in.

Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Rub the springform pan with a little olive oil, and line the bottom with parchment paper cut to fit.

Grate the zest from the lemon and orange, and then juice the lemon. (One means of getting more juice from the lemon is to roll it back & forth on the counter first, applying medium pressure with the palm of your hand. Or put the lemon in the microwave for 10 to 20 seconds to help release the juices. Slice in half and juice.)

Beat the egg yolks and sugar until thick, pale and ribbony. Mix in the olive oil, lemon juice and the zest of both the lemon and the orange. Add the flour, and stir to combine.

Beat the egg whites with the salt ’til stiff peaks form, then gently fold them into the lemony batter. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Plunk in half of the grapes, fairly evenly throughout the batter. (These will sink to the bottom.)

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spreezza!

Oh, you’ve not heard of it? Spreezza’s that immensely popular little dessert pizza, covered with marscarpone cheese, topped with juicy fresh fruits, drizzled with  some delectable sauce or other, some even scattered with herbs. Oh, you’ve not heard of them?  I guess I must have made it up.

It begins with a good pizza dough….

This No-Knead Pizza Dough is bubbly, chewy, crispy and better than you’ll find at most pizza parlors. It can be used for ALL manner of pizzas – nothing at all about it restricts it to the dessert realm – in fact I’m the one who’s taken it there. It’s a take on the now-famous No-Knead Bread of Jim Lahey (owner of Sullivan St. Bakery in NYC) who introduced it a number of years back to rave reviews. I posted the bread late last year but if you missed the post and would like to take a look, you can check it out hereThis pizza dough, like the bread that inspired it, derives its wonderful complex flavor from its overnight fermentation. So the only thing you have to consider moving forward is to start it the day before you plan to enjoy it.

Now if you’ve got a hankering for a spreezza and you don’t want to wait til tomorrow, you can always begin with a store-bought dough (Trader Joe’s has a very good one), skip all this that I’m about to tell you about the dough, and move quickly to the spreezza recipe further down. But you might want to return to this dough another time, because it really is wonderful.

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(Each of the following 10 to 12″ pizzas will make about 4 portions of dessert, 2 slices per person. About the same amount would hold true if being served for brunch with accompanying eggs and/or meats and other items. For breakfast, I’d allow more per person…maybe half a Spreezza per person. You can halve the recipe easily if you like. Or make the whole thing, break it into portions, wrap and refrigerate for up to 3 days to use in other ways…like a traditional pizza. Or stay tuned because I’ve got another fun idea coming up very soon! Flavor and texture of the dough will not suffer at all for the extra time spent in the fridge. If you want to wrap and chill ahead, just allow 2 to 3 hours once they come out of the fridge for unwrapped dough balls to rest before forming into pizza pies.)

No-Knead Pizza Dough

makes six 10″ to 12″ pizzas

(about 20½ hours, with only 90 minutes active time)

  • 7½ cups all-purpose flour (3 lb. 1.5 oz. or 1000 grams) plus more for shaping loaves later
  • 4 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon active dry yeast

Half recipe of the No-Knead Pizza Dough

makes three 10″ to 12″ pizzas

  • 3¾ cups all-purpose flour plus more for shaping loaves later (1 lb. 14 oz. or 850 kg.)
  • 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon active dry yeast

Whisk flour, salt and yeast in a medium bowl. While stirring with a wooden spoon, gradually add 3 cups water (1½ cups if halving the recipe!). Stir until well incorporated. Mix dough gently with your hands to bring together  and form into a rough ball. Transfer to a large clean bowl. Cover with plastic and allow the dough to rise at room temperature in a draft-free place until the surface is covered with tiny bubbles and dough has more than doubled in size. About 18 hours time, though time will vary depending on the temperature of the room. 

Transfer dough to a floured work surface. Gently shape into a rough rectangle. Divide into 6 equal portions (or 3 if halving the recipe.) Working with 1 portion at a time, gather 4 corners to the center to create 4 folds. Turn seam-side down and mold gently into a ball. Dust the dough with flour; set aside on the work surface or floured baking sheet, and repeat with the remaining portions.

Let the dough rest, covered with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel, until soft and pliable, about 1 hour.

To Bake the Pizza Dough

During the last hour of the dough’s resting, prepare the oven. If using a pizza stone, place a rack in the upper third of the oven, put the pizza stone on it and preheat oven to its hottest setting, 500° – 550°F (260° – 290°C.) (If using a baking sheet, no need to preheat that.)

Working with 1 dough piece at a time, dust the dough generously with flour and place on a floured work surface. Gently shape the dough into a 10″ to 12″ disk (25-30 cm.)

If using a pizza stone - Sprinkle a pizza peel or rimless (or inverted rimmed) baking sheet lightly with flour. Place dough disk on the peel or prepared baking sheet, and, using back-and-forth movements, slide pizza from peel onto the hot pizza stone. Bake the pizza, rotating halfway through, until the bottom crust is crisp and the top is blistered, about 5 – 7 minutes total. If using this pizza dough for a Spreezza, brush with melted butter when you rotate the pizza. 

Spreezza! 

(pronounced spreé-tza)

Now, here is where this whole thing turns so fun! I’ll give guidelines for 2 versions here. I’ll share others as seasonal fruits appear. This isn’t science. This isn’t hard-and-fast measurements. This is Playing with Food! 

for each 10-12″ pizza, you will want – approximately:

Marscapone Layer

  • Marscarpone cheese – 8 ounces
  • zest of ½ lemon (about 1 Tablespoon
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 teaspoons (to 3 tsp.) powdered sugar

Berries

  • Fresh strawberries – ½ – ¾ cup, sliced
  • 2 teaspoons (to 3) powdered sugar (for strawberries)
  • zest of ½ lemon added to strawberries
  • Fresh raspberries – ½ cup
  • Fresh blueberries – ½ cup
  • lemon thyme – a couple sprigs
  • blueberry balsalmic vinegar – or good quality aged balsamic vinegar
  • OPTIONAL: Additional Powdered Sugar, sifted - you may want this especially if you’re serving for dessert as opposed to a brunch or breakfast


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a cookie with good creds (& great crumbs)

A friend recently challenged me to include recipes for sweets that utilized “sugars” other than the typical cane. While this little cookie has some white cane sugar, half the amount of sweetening has been replaced by coconut sugar – derived from the nectar of the coconut flower. Wheat flour (for those gluten-sensitive) has been replaced by coconut flour (high in both fiber and protein) and brown rice flour. Half the amount of the usual butter fat has been replaced with unrefined coconut oil (solid at room temperature – a heart-healthy saturated fat that improves the all-important ratio of HDL to LDL levels in the blood stream).  The rest of the fat is supplied by a light, fruity (also heart-healthy) olive oil.

summary:

no wheat flour – instead coconut flour & brown rice flour

no butter – instead coconut oil & fruity olive oil

sugar – half replaced with coconut sugar

Now that we’ve covered some of the health factors, can we talk about taste? We all know this – coconut and chocolate are a classic duo…think Mounds bar. This cookie is so tender, it’s moist, delicately not cloyingly sweet,  has a decidedly coconut-y aroma, and  is strewn with melty bits of deep dark chocolate (full of antioxidants by the way – and lucky for us, a little bit of dark chocolate is recommended every day.) (Add heart-healthy walnuts too, if desired. I do!) Conclusion: This is a mighty good little cookie.

Still, let’s be real – cookies aren’t health food. But eating a sweet little something (in moderation) is one of life’s sweet little pleasures. And, considering that good ones have the power to lift even the drollest of mouths, I could be wrong, but that sounds pretty healthy to me.

(Please allow me one more honest sentiment – they may look like a normal chocolate chip cookie, but believe me, they aren’t. And after tasting these, my old recipe will go curb-side, come Wednesday.)

A Wheat-less (but still not weightless) Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookie

(this will make approximately half a normal-sized batch of cookies)

  • ¾ cup + 3 Tablespoons brown rice flour
  • ¼ cup coconut flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup (4 Tablespoons) coconut oil melted (unrefined has more of a coconut flavor)
  • ¼ cup (4 Tablespoons) light, fruity olive oil (or other neutral-tasting seed or nut oil, such as canola)
  • ½ cup coconut sugar (this can be used, 1 for 1, to replace brown sugar, especially in baking)
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • 2 eggs (whisked to double volume)
  • 1½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup dark semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • ½ cup walnuts (optional – but another heart-healthy food) (If you don’t like, or can’t eat, nuts, you might try replacing with shredded coconut.)

Preheat oven to 375°F (190°C). Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper if desired.

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