Tag Archives: wheat

Sourdough wheat pizza blends delicate, rustic flavor

I am reasonably sure I’ll never find “the dough” for me.  Of course, I used to say that about soul mates until The Bride came along, so I’ve learned never to say never, at least with much conviction. Hence, “reasonably sure” sounds more accurate.

More than once we’ve eaten our Friday night “make in” Pizza and The Bride’s spoken with a bite still in her mouth, her hand at her chin to catch stray cheese and her mouth in a bit of an Ah shape to guard against the heat all while saying, “This is Effin good.”

“Really?” I ask.

She’d swallow and say, “Yeah, this is the best you’ve made. Don’t change a thing.”

Then I go and change it. So instead of asking her now if she likes it, I say, “But is it as good as Tony’s?”

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It never is. It’s almost an unfair question because I’m not sure anyone will ever be as good as Tony’s.  Case in point:

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This thing is SOO MUCH better than it looks. And when you write a beautiful, definitive, perhaps THE ONLY pizza cookbook a person needs like this:

 

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…you got it going on. So it’s no shame not to be better than @tonyspizza415, and it gives me license to keep experimenting with doughs in search of ms. right.

All of which leads me to … my sourdough wheat pizza crust. In it, I used many of the tricks I have tried other times, including:

  • working some seminola into the dough for that complex texture and durability it provides,
  • using an egg (which I normally only use in pasta dough) because I’m told it adds a bit of bite to the crust along with some lightness to counteract the heaviness of the wheat,
  • a sourdough starter I made from 50 percent whole white wheat and 50 percent bread flour,
  • and my usual dashes of salt garlic and olive oil.
  • After about five minutes of kneading the grittier dough started to mesh with the lighter ingredients to become a sturdy, yet silky ball in my hands. I felt a great deal of promise lay in the bowl as I oiled it and set it for a good few hours of rise.

Note: I normally don’t do a lot of kneading or excessive rising for my pizza doughs. The simplicity of it is part of the beauty. Pizza doughs are easy to make decent, yet crucially delicate and complex to get that perfect snap and al dente mix that makes a crust like Tony’s so… Tonyish. This one, because of the wheat and because of the egg I decided to both knead more and let more time to rise, yet another experiment.

Finally, I did add a teaspoon of yeast, which I really don’t think is necessary. The sourdough starter has plenty enough activity after nine days of feeding, stirring and living, but with the density of the wheat and the texture of seminola, I wanted some backup.

And the results?

The crust was a nice blend of rustic texture from the seminola and wheat but delicacy that made it better than a slice of cardboard. The sourdough gave it a complex flavor I really love. The lift was good too. One complaint was it was a tad crumbly. In short…

I love it, but …

it’s still not Tony’s.

Sourdough Wheat Pizza Crust

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup white wheat sourdough starter (here’s a good recipe, by Nourished Kitchen… mostly I stress a high quality starter and a good doughs to feed it. I got mine from Italy).
  • 1 cup bread flour
  • 1/2 cup white wheat, 1/2 cup seminola from Butte Creek Mill.
  • 1 tbl olive oil
  • 1 tbl honey
  • 1 egg
  • splashes of salt, crushed garlic or dry
  • 1/4 cup luke warm water with 1 tsp of yeast

Directions:

  1. Mix yeast and water and let stand.
  2. Sift doughs together and make a well. In the well crack the egg and pour in olive oil, garlic and salt. Stir with a fork outward until mostly blended.
  3. Add in sourdough starter and water and begin mixing with your hands. Add white wheat flour as needed until it’s not sticky.
  4. Knead for five minutes.
  5. Place in oiled bowl and cover for three hours. Punch down once or twice as needed.
  6. Roll out the crust into your best pizza shape and let stand for a few minutes (or more) covered with a towel (this really helps the slide-ability of the dough. If you want a crisp, extra thin crust skip this step because it does rise a bit).
  7. Sauce, cheese, toppings and slide into a 500-degree oven for 9-11 minutes.
  8. Top with dried red peppers, parmesan cheese. Let stand for five minutes, slice and serve.

News From the Test Kitchen: Play dough mixes and matches

The schedule didn’t have another week of dough on it for the test kitchen. But the schedule ended up crumpled into a ball once we went to visit our latest WeBromance, The Butte Creek Mill. With all that flour we had to get into the test kitchen and have some fun.

I love the experimentation of dough, which is why I return to it often. The dough itself is alive and changing each time, with so many types of flour combinations to be explored. Beyond that are the expressions: pizza dough, pasta, tortillas, pastries, croissants, buns, rolls and of course, my favorite: breads. Then finally there’s the flavor combinations in an inexhaustible arsenal of options. We’ve made some great breads, but haven’t scratched the surface of what we can do with dough.

This week we’ll push forward even further into the unknown. We started with the end in mind however. Unlike past test kitchen’s where we decide who will get a surprise package of what we make in the mail through the online debate, this time we awarded the winner from the start.

The Bride and I have a penpal named Sue. I know it sounds old fashioned, but I didn’t know Sue when she decided to write me a letter while I was in rehab. She knew of me and simply felt a spiritual prodding to encourage me. Her letter arrived at a time of deep spiritual challenge for me — my “dark night of the soul.” We started exchanging letters. When The Bride decided to get sober, I recommended she meet Sue. They got together and well, we’ve all been friends ever since. Except to this day, I still haven’t met Sue. Our penpal relationship has extended from pen and paper to emails, but it remains and important, distant friendship.

After one of our posts on facebook, Sue responded that she simply couldn’t wait for the day she could try my bread, and well… that’s all it took. She’s this week’s Test Kitchen winner and this first bread of the week, was created in her honor. I just hope it doesn’t suck.

The Bride tells me often to keep it simple. I’m often mixing flavors in ways that challenge her less than exuberant desire to try new things. “Can’t you just make wheat bread,” she asked me a couple of weeks ago (which I did, just to show I’m not obtuse).

But for this week, it’s a back to the wild west of combinations. I call this one Floral Seven Grain Bread, because it has so many wonderful scents it’s like a flower garden.

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I combined rosemary, roasted garlic, parsley and blackberries with seven grain flour to make this bread.

The dough has a pretty purple hue with flecks of fragrant spices.

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And I created a couple of different styles of expression, including a boule’ and a pan with braided top. One I drizzled with blackberries for extra flavor and the other I dusted with flour.

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The key is to allow subtle flavors to merge. If anyone overpowers, I’ll have missed my mark. But as the bread hits the oven, even as I write this, I am cautiously optimistic. Either way, Sue will have to be the final judge.

I just hope its as delightful as Sue’s friendship has been for The Bride and I.

WeBromance: Wheat unchanged at Butte Creek Mill

It had been a couple of months of nose to the grindstone life for The Bride and me until last week when we simply carved a day for fun. Little did we know we’d end up completely thrilled to be nose to the grindstone.

Or millstone more accurately, I think anyway. I’m still not sure how it all works. I just know that my quest to sift through all the Frankenwheat scare, carb bashing, flour flogging and all the hype that takes the fun out of dough got a hell of a lot of easier when we visited the Butte Creek Mill in Eagle Point, Oregon.

My latest WeBromance is really a fixation and fascination with the mill and shop and products itself.  But since everyone can’t get to the area to visit the mill, I can attest they will LOVE the products they can buy online, which earns this WeBromance status.

This “is the last water-powered grist mill, still commercially operating, this side of the Mississippi” the web site states. 

Historic Photo

They still mill the wheat and make their various products, powered by the creek just as its been done for more than 125 years. I chatted up the owners to find out more. They don’t use GMO seed, instead getting their seed from a natural ranch in Montana. I can enjoy the Zen of making dough with healthy products in a true Hoof-to-head synergy.

Freshly Milled Flours

Any Herb

The country store was… well, everything I hoped it would be. I kept snagging bags of different flours, yeast, spices and supplies. As soon as I got them home, I decided I simply had to display them on a shelf.

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(Confession: The Gold Medal you see on the shelf will be firmly replaced by Butte Creek once it’s gone. I’m that in love with these products. It’s an exclusive for me, but as is well documented, I can’t waste anything. I wouldn’t sleep for a week if I didn’t use the Gold Medal.)

Next, I started baking, a new recipe I’m toying with called Floral Seven Grain Bread, using Butte Creek’s Seven Grain Flour. It’s rising as I write, so…

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Well, if you see a post with that title soon, you’ll know I’m pleased. If not… don’t blame the flour, blame the baker.

The entire mill just fascinated us. We went into the basement to see the guts of the operation. The main beam is a tree carved into a beam by axes, oh, five generations ago?

The old mill was the retirement project of a married couple who moved south from Portland when they bought it a decade ago and pumped it back to life. The Bride — knowing something about a husband’s crazy business ideas — said the wife of the team looked tired. She wanted to offer to take her out for a massage while I volunteered to watch the store, which frankly, she should have. I would have loved that!

All I can say is I’m glad her husband had a thing for antiques and the vision to salvage this priceless mill for all of us. You can get their products online.

Since the vast majority of our readers won’t be able to tour the mill themselves, we pass it along virtually. Enjoy these photos and then click over to the store to stock up your kitchen. You’ll know why the Butte Creek Mill is our latest WeBromance.

Historic Mill Tour

The front room

Milling Room

The milling room

Grain Elevator

The grain elevator

Flour Chute

The flour “shute”

Mill Chute

The bottom of mill stone

Mill Turbine

The turbine

Wheat Polisher

The wheat scourer and polisher

Wheat Plot

A little wheat plot grows right outside of the mill

Recipe: Old school Italian with new school wheat

As an Italian kid growing up wheat anything was an aberration. We didn’t eat wheat that I can recall. I never recall Nonie even having it in her kitchen. Perhaps she did. I just knew I didn’t like wheat, plain and simple.

Now all things white are truly the enemy of the first rule of a healthy food plan: eat right. To eat right, you need to avoid the white. Whites like sugar, potatoes, rice and flour play havoc in our bodies. So the deeper I get into making dough the more I try to incorporate wheat flour. Today I took an old school Sicilian bread I’ve made and modified ever so slightly, and worked in two healthier grains: stone-ground wheat flour and flax meal.  Follow along in pictures and learn to make this bread for yourself.

Ingredients:

  • 3 1/2 cups bread flour
  • 1/2 cup flax meal (I used Bob’s)
  • 1 cup stone-ground wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons powdered garlic
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups lukewarm water
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 egg white
  • sprinkling of sesame seeds

Directions:

  1. Mix the yeast into the water and set aside for about 8 minutes or so.
  2. Mix all the dry in  a mixing bowl with your fingers like a rake. Cut in oil.
  3.  Pour water into the bowl. Using a dough hook on your kitchen aid, set to low, mix for two minutes. Then turn up one notch and mix for five more. If you don’t have a dough hook, just do some old fashioned kneading for 10 minutes.
  4. Take out of the bowl and knead for two more minutes. Form into a dough ball. Either put in an oiled glass bowl and cover with wrap or… break out the storage box like this:

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I love it and you’ll soon see why.

5. After the dough has doubled (about 60-90 minutes) we’re going to fold it over. This replaces the old “punching” method in a way that still activates the glutton but doesn’t impact the rise and lightness of the dough. Pizza dough should be punched. You don’t want bubbles in your crust. Wheat bread needs all the lift it can get.

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So the fold… First, wet your hands and then fold it about 2/3 over on itself. Then turn the dough and do it again. Check it out:

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Then fold it the other way exactly the same and flip, seam-sides down so it looks like this:

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Let it rise again for 30-45 minutes and repeat. Wait another 30 minutes and do it a final time. After 30 more minutes or so take your beautifully smelling dough out and set it up on a prepared peel or a baking sheet.

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On the peel, form into a free-form shape of your loaf. I don’t like bread pans. I like it to look more natural.  Like this loaf of Sicilian Bread I made last Christmas:

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It’s a bit more beautiful than a square loaf pan don’t you think? Anyway, cover the loaf with a towel and let it finish its final rise. All this gentle lifting will keep the loaf larger and lighter and resist the wheat’s heaviness. Go ahead and pre-heat the oven to 425 degrees.

Take a knife and cut a slit. Then brush the top with egg whites and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

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Now that’s it ready slide it into the oven.

After it’s been in the oven about three minutes, sprinkle some water on it with either the splatter off a brush or a spray bottle. This will help the crust color properly. Do it once or twice more within the first 10 minutes. Let it cook for a total of 42-45 minutes. It will sound hollow if you pound it with the heel of your hand when it’s done and it will look like this:

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Effin beauty, a mix of old school Italy with a little new school wheat.