Homemade Hamburger Buns

You can find American-style hamburger buns in Germany in many or maybe even all supermarkets, if you’re willing to buy into the kooky red-white-and-blue motifs. Those products, in our experience, are generally not bad. They’re usually not quite as soft as you’d expect a hamburger bun in the USA to be, and they’ll do just fine.

But they don’t have to. I found this recipe online yesterday for homemade hamburger buns and tried it out. It was a great success! Continue reading Homemade Hamburger Buns

Pan Pizza at Home

Pan Pizza at HomeSarah found this recipe a few days ago, and we’ve been drooling about it ever since.

We don’t have two round 10-inch cast iron skillets, but we do have a 10.5-inch squarish one. Since the recipe is intended for 2 10-inch cast iron skillets, and the area of a rectangle is l×w (or l2 for a square) and the area of a circle is πr2, the ingredient downscale factor can be expressed thusly:

( 10.52 / 2( π(10/2)2 ) ≈ 71%

Thanks, Mr. Birch, for 9th grade algebra, and Mr. Krumwiede, for 10th grade geometry.

Ingredients

281 g bread flour
7 g kosher salt, plus more for sprinkling
8 g fresh cake yeast, or 3 g instant yeast (about 1/2 a packet of German instant yeast)
193 g water
6 g (a little less than a tablespoon) Extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for coating
1/2 recipe pizza sauce
240 g Full-fat, dry mozzarella cheese
Other topings striking your fancy
1 small handfull torn fresh basil leaves
40 g grated parmesan or pecorino romano cheese

Combine flour, yeast, water, and oil in a large bowl. Mix with a wooden spoon until no dry flour remains — I read about an enzyme on some people’s hands that inhibits the yeast metabolism and wonder if I am the source of my low-rise breads. The bowl should be at least 4 to 6 times to volume of the dough to account for rising. Not that my dough ever rises as much as it should.

Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap, making sure that edges are well-sealed, then let rest in a warm place for at least 8 hours and up to 24. Dough should rise dramatically and fill bowl. Then add in the salt and work it in thoroughly. I read somewhere else that salt inhibits yeast metabolism. Or maybe I have salty, enzymey hands.

Form the dough into a ball by holding it with well-floured hands and tucking the dough underneath itself, rotating it until it forms a tight ball. Or as close as you can get it — this is a high-hydration recipe, so it’s going to be gloopy.

Pour 1 to 2 teaspoons of oil in the bottom of a 10.5-inch square cast iron skillet. Place the ball of dough into the pan and turn to coat evenly with oil. Using a flat palm, press the dough around the pan, flattening it slightly and spreading oil around the entire bottom and edges of the pan. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and let the dough sit at room temperature for two hours. After the first hour, adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat oven to 550°F, or as close as you can get it. Ours only goes to 250°C (482°F).

After two hours, dough should be mostly filling in the pan up to the edges. Use your fingertips to press it around until it fills in every corner, popping any large bubbles that appear. Lift up one edge of the dough to let any air bubbles underneath escape and repeat, moving around the dough until there are no air bubbles left underneath and the dough is evenly spread around the pan.

Top the dough with 3/4 cup sauce, spreading the sauce with the back of a spoon into every corner. Spread evenly with mozzarella cheese, letting the cheese go all the way to the edges. Season with salt. Add other toppings as desired. Drizzle with olive oil and scatter a few basil leaves over the top (if desired)

Transfer pan to oven and bake until top is golden brown and bubbly and bottom is golden brown and crisp when you lift it with a thin spatula, 12 to 15 minutes. Immediately sprinkle with grated parmesan or pecorino Romano cheese. Using a thin spatula, loosen pizza and transfer to a cutting board (it should loosen and slide out with little effort). Cut into slices and serve immediately.

No need to knead pizza dough

I’ve been bitten by the pizza bug.

We’ve tried making pizza from scratch before, but never were really satisfied with the crust (Sarah’s sauce is awesome, however). It was always too flimsy, messy and difficult to move around or bake completely. So we stopped trying for a while.

But then we got inspiration from Food52. Continue reading No need to knead pizza dough

Make Crêpes When You’re Feeling Crêpey

I’ve been feeling crêpey all spring. I scouted out a cast iron crêpes pan (this one, specifically), trying to get a nice, wide flat surface, but one that will still fit in our kitchen cabinets and on our little European stove. I specifically wanted cast iron (which effectively means I’ll never be able to clean it) so I can use a metal spatula (a long, skinny offset one you’d use to spread frosting on a cake) to maneuver my crêpes without tearing up the coating. Alas, I fear I won’t ever be able to make crêpes in the proportion of those guys at carnivals, but what I’ve been able to produce has been very tasty, and didn’t require more than a little practice. Continue reading Make Crêpes When You’re Feeling Crêpey

Rosemary Focaccia

This recipe inspired us to make use of our rosemary plant, which stuck it out all winter in our back room flower box and is still going strong at the time of writing. We’ve rewritten it a bit to reflect our own preferences (more garlic, more rosemary) and writing style and include metric equivalencies, where appropriate. It’s not all that hard to make, but it does require a lot of sitting around. Maybe not even as much as described here, but the mystical bread alchemy stuff eludes me beyond a certain point.

380 to 414g (2 3/4 to 3 cups) all-purpose flour (German type 550)
3/8 t instant yeast
470ml (a little less than 2 cups) warm water (70-90°F, 22-32°C)
3/4 t sugar
3/4 t salt
3 T extra virgin olive oil
4 T fresh rosemary
at least 12 cloves garlic, roasted in olive oil until soft and lightly brown
1 t large flake sea salt, optional

  1. In the mixer bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine 2 3/4 cups flour and yeast.
  2. With the mixer running on low, gradually add the water and mix until the dough comes together, about 3 minutes.
  3. Increase the speed to medium and beat until dough thickens a bit and is very smooth. Add extra flour a few tablespoons at a time if needed until a bit stiffer but still a very runny dough resembling melted mozzarella.
  4. Add sugar and salt and beat until just incorporated.
  5. Spray or oil a large stainless steel bowl and scrape the dough into bowl. Lightly spray the top of the dough and cover with a towel. Allow the dough to rest about 2-3 hours in a warm place. It may grow in size, but ours didn’t much, and it was still yummy.
  6. focaccia_doughCoat a 12×17-inch sheet pan with a heaping tablespoon of olive oil. Pour the dough out onto the sheet pan and coat your hands with some of the remaining olive oil. Spread the dough as thinly as possible without tearing it.
  7. Let it relax for 10 minutes and continue until the dough fills up most of the pan. Let it sit about another hour to see if it rises. And maybe it won’t at all, but that’s OK too.
  8. Preheat oven to 475°F / 246°C.
  9. Place the whole cloves of roasted garlic into the dough, and tuck fresh rosemary leaves partway into the dough (to keep them anchored), and then sprinkle the salt, if desired. Place the pan on the lowest shelf in the oven preferably directly on top of a hot pizza stone.
  10. focaccia_breadBake 13-16 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Remove from the oven and serve almost immediately. Make sure hot oil doesn’t drip from the pan out onto your besandaled foot and cause your wife alarm as you shriek like a little girl.