Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Daring Bakers Challenge: Pizzaiollo Styles - Apple Turnover Pizza

This month's challenge was hosted by Rosas yummy yums.
Rosa presented us with a fab challenge this month and one of my personal favourite foods PIZZA!
This month's blog will be short and sweet.
Who doesn't love pizza? To me it's the quintessential meal in a jiff. As a former student I think you find a bond to pizza that some people don't always understand. Late night study sessions and after a night on the town are 2 of my most vivid memories. Of course burning the roof of my mouth off with cheese is also a memory, but maybe one I would like to forget.
This month since we are still in the season of harvest I made an apple turnover pizza. I figured something a little less conventional would be fun.
So enjoy!


Original recipe taken from “The Bread Baker’s Apprentice” by Peter Reinhart.

Makes 6 pizza crusts (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter).

4 1/2 Cups (20 1/4 ounces/607.5 g) Unbleached high-gluten (%14) bread flour or all purpose flour, chilled
1 3/4 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Instant yeast
1/4 Cup (2 ounces/60g) Olive oil or vegetable oil (both optional, but it’s better with)
1 3/4 Cups (14 ounces/420g or 420ml) Water, ice cold (40° F/4.5° C)
1 Tb sugar
Semolina/durum flour or cornmeal for dusting


1. Mix together the flour, salt and instant yeast in a big bowl (or in the bowl of your stand mixer).

2. Add the oil, sugar and cold water and mix well (with the help of a large wooden spoon or with the paddle attachment, on low speed) in order to form a sticky ball of dough. On a clean surface, knead for about 5-7 minutes, until the dough is smooth and the ingredients are homogeneously distributed. If it is too wet, add a little flour (not too much, though) and if it is too dry add 1 or 2 teaspoons extra water.

NOTE: If you are using an electric mixer, switch to the dough hook and mix on medium speed for the same amount of time.The dough should clear the sides of the bowl but stick to the bottom of the bowl. If the dough is too wet, sprinkle in a little more flour, so that it clears the sides. If, on the contrary, it clears the bottom of the bowl, dribble in a teaspoon or two of cold water.
The finished dough should be springy, elastic, and sticky, not just tacky, and register 50°-55° F/10°-13° C.

3. Flour a work surface or counter. Line a jelly pan with baking paper/parchment. Lightly oil the paper.

4. With the help of a metal or plastic dough scraper, cut the dough into 6 equal pieces (or larger if you want to make larger pizzas).

NOTE: To avoid the dough from sticking to the scraper, dip the scraper into water between cuts.

5. Sprinkle some flour over the dough. Make sure your hands are dry and then flour them. Gently round each piece into a ball.

NOTE: If the dough sticks to your hands, then dip your hands into the flour again.

6. Transfer the dough balls to the lined jelly pan and mist them generously with spray oil. Slip the pan into plastic bag or enclose in plastic food wrap.

7. Put the pan into the refrigerator and let the dough rest overnight or for up to thee days.

NOTE: You can store the dough balls in a zippered freezer bag if you want to save some of the dough for any future baking. In that case, pour some oil(a few tablespooons only) in a medium bowl and dip each dough ball into the oil, so that it is completely covered in oil. Then put each ball into a separate bag. Store the bags in the freezer for no longer than 3 months. The day before you plan to make pizza, remember to transfer the dough balls from the freezer to the refrigerator.


8. On the day you plan to eat pizza, exactly 2 hours before you make it, remove the desired number of dough balls from the refrigerator. Dust the counter with flour and spray lightly with oil. Place the dough balls on a floured surface and sprinkle them with flour. Dust your hands with flour and delicately press the dough into disks about 1/2 inch/1.3 cm thick and 5 inches/12.7 cm in diameter. Sprinkle with flour and mist with oil. Loosely cover the dough rounds with plastic wrap and then allow to rest for 2 hours.

9. At least 45 minutes before making the pizza, place a baking stone on the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven as hot as possible (500° F/260° C).

NOTE: If you do not have a baking stone, then use the back of a jelly pan. Do not preheat the pan.

10. Generously sprinkle the back of a jelly pan with semolina/durum flour or cornmeal. Flour your hands (palms, backs and knuckles). Take 1 piece of dough by lifting it with a pastry scraper. Lay the dough across your fists in a very delicate way and carefully stretch it by bouncing it in a circular motion on your hands, and by giving it a little stretch with each bounce. Once the dough has expanded outward, move to a full toss.

NOTE: Make only one pizza at a time.
During the tossing process, if the dough tends to stick to your hands, lay it down on the floured counter and reflour your hands, then continue the tossing and shaping.
In case you would be having trouble tossing the dough or if the dough never wants to expand and always springs back, let it rest for approximately 5-20 minutes in order for the gluten to relax fully,then try again.
You can also resort to using a rolling pin, although it isn’t as effective as the toss method.

11. When the dough has the shape you want (about 9-12 inches/23-30 cm in diameter - for a 6 ounces/180g piece of dough), place it on the back of the jelly pan, making sure there is enough semolina/durum flour or cornmeal to allow it to slide and not stick to the pan.

12. Lightly top it with sweet or savory toppings of your choice.

13. Slide the garnished pizza onto the stone in the oven or bake directly on the jelly pan. Close the door and bake for about 5-8 minutes.

NOTE: After 2 minutes baking, take a peek. For an even baking, rotate 180°.

If the top gets done before the bottom, you will need to move the stone or jelly pane to a lower shelf before the next round. On the contrary, if the bottom crisps before the cheese caramelizes, then you will need to raise the stone or jelly.

14. Take the pizza out of the oven and transfer it to a cutting board or your plate. In order to allow the cheese to set a little, wait 3-5 minutes before slicing or serving.

Apple Turnover Topping:
To top 1 pizza

4 apples peeled and sliced thinly
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 tsp of cornstarch
1 tbsp butter
2 tbsp confectioners sugar
1 tsp apple cider

In a bowl mix together brown sugar, cinnamon and cornstarch
Coat top of pizza dough with butter, then place apples across so they overlap
Bake for recommended time above about 5- 6 minutes
Mix icing sugar and apple cider together to form a smooth icing, adding more cider if necessary.
Drizzle on hot pizza.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Caramel Apple Charlottes: A recipe in progress

When your a child there are certain memories you put in your mind and save them forever. Hoping that when your older you might be able to pull them out and use them for a rainy day.
The last week or so the air has been getting crisp and the leaves have all turned their beautiful colours of reds, oranges and golds. Fall is here.
When the weather in Ontario gets chilly and people start to feel the looming of winter upon them, this is the time to pull those warm memories from your mind and put them to good use. So that is exactly what I did.
When I was growing up my parents would go on exotic vacations a couple times a year. This meant that my sister and I would take the 30 minute drive out to the country and stay with my Nan and Bamp. Most kids in their early years of adolescence would despise this I'm sure. But when you had the grandparents I had this was like freedom only kids dreamt about.

Let me give you an example:

When dinner was finished and you thought that most elderly people would round themselves out and watch reruns of "Corrie Street" or the evening news, my grandfather would break out the cards. First order of business, "Cath, where are the quarters?", my Bamp would yell.
Yep you guessed it, this wasn't "Snap" or "Go Fish", this was Blackjack...gambling Blackjack to be precise.
My Nan would go to her quarter jar, which she kept to throw her quarters into so that each of her ( I can't remember how many we all are, but there are alot) grandkids could have $50 every birthday and Christmas, and pour them out onto the table and divvy them up so we each ended up with about 8 or 10 a piece.

After about 4 or 5 hands of cards my Nan would get up from the table and "POOF" dessert would appear. There was always something different when we went to stay, but my favourite was her Apple Charlotte.
Warm vanilla sponge baked and underneath a soft layer of apples and cinnamon. If this wasn't enough custard would magically appear out of thin air, and dessert was served. We would all dig in with haste and relish in the moment of utter perfection. It was always "Silubrious" my Bamp would say,which was his word for delicious, whatever the dessert was. Then it was back to business, Blackjack style.

So this week's recipe is an homage to my Nan and Bamp. The two people I learned quintessential life skills from. Like when to say "stay" and when to say "hit me". Also, how to never be flustered in the kitchen. Though I haven't perfected the recipe from scratch, I'm working on it...until then you can all shudder at the cake mix I used. Don't knock it to you tried it, it still tasted "silubrious".

Caramel Apple Charlottes:

1 box of golden cake mix, prepared to instructions
3 Apples, peeled, cored, sliced thinly into 2 inch pieces
Caramel Sauce, I made my own but use whatever you like

Caramel Sauce:
1/2 c sugar
2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
pinch of salt

Bring sugar and about 1 tsp of water to a boil for about 5 minutes or until carmel in colour. Remove from heat and add butter, cream and salt. Place back on low heat and stir together until smooth.
*If caramel goes grainy on you, just heat back up and add more cream until smooth.*

Heat oven to 350.
Prepare a cupcake pan, do not flour.
Pour a teaspoon of caramel sauce into each hole.
Then lay about 4 - 5 slices of apple into the bottom.
Top each with about 2 Tbsp of cake mix, or about 3/4 full.
Bakefor 18 - 20 mintues, or when you push on the top the spring back.
Cool for 5 mintues and then flip onto cooling rack.

Makes 24 cupcakes

Monday, October 6, 2008

Peach Vanilla Rosemary Jam

As Autumn fast approaches in Ontario, I feel that I am trying to grasp at the last strings of summer. Still wearing flip flops in 7 degree weather, still running in shorts and eating ice cream every last chance I get, I think pretty much qualifies me in the "grasping at straws" department.
The leaves here are finally turning their brilliant colours of red, gold and fiery oranges. The pumpkins have arrived and we are officially into apple picking season (stay tuned).

So in my last homage to summer, I went to the market a few weeks ago and bought the last of the slightly sad looking peaches in an effort to salvage their blushing pink and orange skins and sweet juicy flesh, (sorry for the "harlequin" descriptive).

As in my last post, I had recently tried canning for the first time and it was a resounding success. So I thought I would have another crack at it with my remaining jars. Martha Stewart has this amazing "Peach Rosemary Jam" recipe that I had seen a few years ago posted on her website.

My younger sister makes this amazing jam, and when I visited her in Halifax, there was always a stash in the fridge to be eaten on her organic whole grain bread or yummy croissants from the market.
Now she has moved ALL the way across the pond, so now I am left with no more of her jam. :(

So this recipe is for you Jess, and rest assured when you come home at Christmas I will be filling your suitcase with Peach AND Pear jam so that when you go back to jolly old England, I can come THERE and once again eat jam out of your fridge.


3 pounds of peaches, skinned*, pitted and roughly chopped
1/3 c. lemon juice, fresh
2 c. sugar
2 c. vanilla sugar
3 - 4 sprigs fresh rosemary

Toss all the ingredients in a large bowl and leave for 4 hours, stirring occasionally until the sugar has dissolved.

Pour mixture into a large pot and bring to a boil, cook for about 15 minutes until mixture thickens.
Puree with hand held mixer or use a potato masher and crush fruit lightly.
Skim any foam that has formed on the top of the mixture.
Discard rosemary.

Fill jars and leave about 1/3 inch at the top. Process for 10 minutes.
Let rest for 24 hours and then test seal. If sealed properly then store in a cool dry place for up to 1 year. If seal does not take store in fridge and eat within 1 month.

Makes: 6 1/2 c. jars

*I find the easiest way to skin peaches is to cross hatch them at the bottom and throw them in whole into a pot of simmering water for about 1 - 2 minutes.
Remove into a bowl of ice water, optional, or just leave them to cool for a few minutes and then peel.