Friday, June 26, 2009

Farmer’s Market Pizza Day ~ !!!!

Not everything here will be sweet. I do love savories. Earlier in the day, between baking and kids and laundry and dishes and andandandand, I put together some pizza dough to rise so that we would have pizza later after picking up toppings at the Farmer’s market. This could become a semi-regular Wednesday routine considering how many options of fresh delicious toppings I can find down at the market.

Every once in a while I’m off on a search and test mission for a thin, crusty, flavorful p
izza dough. Missions such as that are short-lived, my attention span and awareness that I’m too lazy to deal with a pizza stone every time, heat the oven to 500 degrees, and still not be happy with the end result often equals mental notes such as, ”I won’t try that recipe again.”

At home this is the crust of choice. It has just enough Other-Unusual in it to satisfy me, distracting me from a thin crust quest. This is a soft dough, it’s the milk and olive oil. I’ve made it with one rise, two rises and no rise when the fridge was looking sparse and afternoon slipped away from me. Hey. I’m a middle-aged mom with small kids. I’m tired. I’d take gingko-biloba if I could remember to buy it.

From a *fabulous* cookbook. If standing in front of the cookbooks on my bookshelves and someone said I could only keep one (who IS that voice?), this would be the cookbook. Maybe. Could be. I’m pretty sure.

Slightly varied from the original ~ but not by much

Scant 1/3 c. w
arm water - 110 degrees or so
A pinch of sugar, or a drop or two of honey, or a sprinkling of brown sugar

2 ½ tsp. yeast

Scant 1/3 c. milk

3 T. cornmeal. Some ground corn, fine or what have you.

2 T. olive oil

1 tsp. salt

1 ¾ c. flour

2 T. rye flour

Lotsa fresh ground pepper

Pinch o’ cayenne

Chopped up rosemary or other herbs of choice

Dissolve the yeast i
n the water and sweetener (which is optional). Let sit.

Warm the milk to room tempe
rature, add the cornmeal. Let sit a while to soften the cornmeal.

Mix dry ingredients. Okie dokie - pile the ingredients together, mix ‘em, mix ‘em some more, knead it via hand or mixer.

Place luscious soft dough into an oiled bowl and let rise until double. Punch down and let rise again if you have the time. Use when ready.

This will cover a half sheet pan. You can make two smaller pizzas. Bake off anywhere from 425-500 degrees, depending on how you want the end result. If you use 500 degrees, start checking at 8 minutes. I use the bottom shelf of the oven and hover at around 475 in my gas oven.

Notes ~

  • A film of olive oil before putting on any topping will stop that wet layer. I will spread out a film of oil, then add a sprinkling of kosher salt before toppings.
  • Aren’t sliced tomatoes so much easier, fresher and yummie-simple instead of making pizza sauce? Yes. Two of my three children do not agree. Harumphf.


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Boysenberries remembered ~

Now that the height of succulent fruit is about to come into season, I am missing one fruit in particular. Can someone tell me where to find a watermelon with seeds? Huge, oval, green - full of anticipation - a fruit blimp, that if cracked open would rain pink-hued juice so sweet one would naturally turn their lips upward to quench their desire at the sight, while dodging delicate seeds that could do no harm. Where did those watermelons go? I don’t want seedless watermelon. I want lush. I’m tired of turning around and seeing bowling ball size watermelon in the stores. I’m holding out for the blimps, I tell ya. When I do, I’ll be typing with sticky fingers and serving my kidlets fresh watermelon juice over ice.

Boysenberries ~ I can still find! Thank goodness. Loganberries are an
other story, but I’ve not been to the valley to pick fruit since returning home five and a half years ago. Boysenberries, aside from fun to say out loud repeatedly (try it fast) are a delicate sweet yet tart berry. Man, they are juicy-fat. Just how I like ‘em, baby. I remember picking this variety on my Grandma’s farm - they were the ones that would burst in my fingers if touched with a heavy hand. They emit a warmth more so than other berry varieties on the vine, their ample juice inside heated by the sun. De-li-cate.

Fresh won’t be coming until a month of so from now, get ready. It’s a short season. If you want boysenberries at the ready, go here for IQF.

The following recipe could very well be one of my top two favorite coffeecake recipes for the following reason - - it’s the kind that tastes sweetly comforting when it’s warm and fresh. When I see “melted butter’ in a recipe for coffeecake, my mind zips to a full-figured woman in an apron, moving with common assurance in the kitchen. I feel young in the memory. Melting butter for baked goodies was for women that had a special treat to get ready for their families before they woke for the day. No time to let butter come to room temp, no KitchenAids that could beat cold butter into submission in the wee hours. Picture a soft starting weekend day, or a summer morning without obligations. Shhh, let me have my fantasies. I’m not naïve enough to think all women back in the day liked their domestic duties, truly their choices were so much less than we have today. I appreciate the effort, nuturing no matter the path to the end result of our mothers and grandmothers. Warm, sweet and soft on the table, warm, sweet and soft was the woman in the kitchen.

The recipe is adapted from this little book. I add a touch more sugar, use buttermilk instead of milk, add salt since I use unsalted butter, add vanilla and lemon zest.

Fresh Berry Coffeecake

(eat warm - it‘s not a keeper)

1 ½ c. flour
½ c. plus 2 T. sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt

1 stick unsalted butter, melted - cooled slightly

½ c. buttermilk

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 tsp. vanilla
Zest of ½-1 lemon

A cup of frozen berries of choice, coarsely chopped if not raspberries. If using fresh, no need to chop.

Streusel topping ~
1/4 c. chopped nuts
1/2 c. brown or white sugar (I use white)
1/2 c. flour
2 T. melted butter

  • Mix dry ingredients.
  • Add milk to warm butter, mix together to bring milk to room temp.
  • Add vanilla and zest.
  • Make a well in the dry ingredients, pour in the wet, add the egg. Fold together until just combined. This is a loose batter.
  • Spoon two-thirds of the batter into your pan, sprinkle berries over batter, top with remaining batter.
  • Sprinkle with streusel.

Bake @ 350 degrees. See time notes below.

After it comes out of the oven, let sit about 15 minutes before cutting. Dust with powdered sugar if desired.

Notes ~

Here’s the vague part of my instructional personality again ~ baking time varies according to pan size, volume and flavors used.
  • Using frozen berries and two 6” pans, it could be almost 40 minutes before they are done.
  • If you use a 9” roundpan and fresh berries, it could be done in 30-35 minutes.
  • If you use an 8” round pan and frozen berries, it could take 40 minutes.
  • If you double this recipe, it fits nicely in a 12” round pan - a generous size to bake quickly before heading out the door to a morning gathering. Do not double the leavening, multiply by 1.5.
  • If you multiply the recipe by 1.5, you get a nicely fat product in two 6” pans and….it could take beyond 40 minutes.
  • If you use a 9" square as it says in the original recipe with fresh fruit, it takes 25-30 minutes at 375 degrees. I keep my oven to 350 on this recipe.
  • Point being, start checking at 30 minutes and go from there. I assume you all know the press and bounce back touch, or use a toothpick to test for crumb.
  • Variations ~ oh…so many. Sans berries and add spice of choice. Nutmeg in a warm fluffy coffeecake is soothing.
  • I’ve used brown sugar in place of white, added apples, added spice ~ fall options.

Berries ~ coming soon!!! *clapping* my hands in glee. I love my Oregon.
Toodles ~ xoxo

Friday, June 5, 2009

Pink. Sweets. Pink sweets.

I was so happy with the simple way these treats turned out. It was a lesson in make, bake, love, accept and let go. It was Annie's 10th birthday this year, she had not had a party since she was three, but had been asking for several years. Well...I do admit to not being the fun one - this being a blog on my personal baking habits, I won't go into my unfunNESS or how life can be a full plate, blah, blah, blah....moving on to...(briefly)... snobbery at making every little thing myself. There is still the lingering part of me that feels homemade pink marshmallows dusted with sparkly pink-tinted powdered sugar would have been...ummmm....what is a better anyway? One thing I've learned about baking for those that love sweets - it's subjective when it comes to taste preference. For this party, I put away m
y little drawstring pouch of snobbery that holds my love of all sweets with their name of origin in a language other than English. Back to.....

Marshmallow pops!!!! They were fun and enticing to ten year old girls. I call that a success, especially when they go back for a third helping.

Annabelle helped with the menu and picked the colors. it amounted to "I want pink and green" and I ran with the rest. As long as it was pretty in her eyes and sugary, I got the thumbs up. Simple and easy. Marshmallow pops, cake pops, the cake, candy coated pretzels and cheddar bunnies. Yes, I put out some cheese - to assuage
the guilt of so much....sugar.

The cake - her choice. Coconut cake with strawberry filling and classic buttercream with tinted white chocolate dots. We sat at the table together talking about placement of dots on her cake and was she okay with this or that dot placed here or there. I did pretty well - after all - I'm in practice to not be the bride's mother from h*ll when it comes to voicing opinions on how things "should" look on a cake.

In my cake world, I think the sun rises and falls on the author of this book. The strawberry filling I made came from her book, it's her strawberry conserve recipe and a darn fine one. Her blog is in my listing. I look forward to the day her new book is released.

When the party was done, I smiled at my auburn-haired baby...that hit double digits in age...and said yes to her question asking for another marshmallow pop.