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

Note: this post is evolving with us as we get better working with dough and change dwellings and available equipment.

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

Ingredients

We don’t have two round 10-inch cast iron skillets, like the original recipe calls for, but we do have a 10.5-inch squarish one, and a 12” round one. Here are the ingredients from the Serious Eats recipe, converted to fresh yeast1, and scaled for the pans we use.2

10″ square12″ round
211gbread flour239
5gsalt6
6gfresh cake yeast7
145gwater164
4.5golive oil, plus more for lube5
pizza sauce
toppings3
shredded full-fat, dry mozzarella cheese

Still measuring your ingredients by volume (cups, fl. oz.)? You must like washing dishes.

Instructions

Dough

Mix everything in a large bowl by hand or with a wooden spoon or something. Don’t make it too complicated. When you’ve got the dough formed into a ball, transfer to a different bowl coated lightly in oil. Or it could be the same bowl — that’s fine.

Oven Rise

Do the oven rise, or the steam oven rise, but not both!

Steam Oven Rise

This is the big advantage of our new4 kitchen. The steam oven cuts the rise time dramatically. Set your steam oven on “dough proofing” or similar. We set ours to 30 °C — that’s as low as ours goes. Let it rise in there for 2 hours.

No-Steam Oven Rise

Cover the bowl tightly in plastic wrap. Let it rise in a warm place for up to six hours. We used our oven for this — set it to 50 °C for a few minutes at a time to keep the temperature warm and pleasant for the yeast to feel productive. It’s done when it’s more than doubled in size.

In-Pan Rise

You need the in-pan rise no matter what.

Coat your cast iron skillet in olive oil: bottom and sides. Use your hands, and get them slippery, too. Grab the dough out of the bowl and form it into a ball, turning it inside out a few times in your hands. Spread it out as evenly as you can in the pan without tearing it. It will resist, so stretch the dough repeatedly in multiple directions to coerce it. If it does not reach all the way the walls of the pan, do not despair: during the next rise and subsequent bake, it will.

Do an in-pan rise for an hour. We use our oven for this; you may have another warm place for dough to rise. Set the oven as low as it will go — ours won’t go lower than 50 °C — and let the dough rise in the pan for an hour. You can make the sauce and prepare the toppings while you wait.

Baking, Saucing, Topping, Serving

Take the pan out of the oven (if the in-pan rise was happening there) and crank it up as high as it will go. Ours maxes it out at 250 °C. You might want to put a pizza stone in there or a baking steel or something to keep the temperature high and stable. We found that that’s really not necessary with a convection oven, but it worked well with our conventional oven in the past.

Do two bakes — one just for the crust and sauce, and one for the toppings. You give the crust a head start and dry out the sauce a little bit with the first bake. We’re going for a golden, crispy bottom layer, with medium-crumb airiness in the middle.

Spread the sauce on the dough as far out to the edge of the crust as you dare. When the oven is preheated, put the sauced pie in your cast iron skillet in for 10 minutes. It should start to brown a little by the time you take it out.

Take it out and apply the rest of your toppings. Bake for another 10 minutes, or until the cheese is largely browned.

Use a wide metal spatula to flop the pie onto a wooden cutting board. It should come out pretty easily thanks to the olive oil coating you gave the pan before starting the in-pan rise. Let it cool for a few minutes before cutting it into servable pieces.

If you fail to wait for the pie to come down to a reasonable temperature, you will burn the heck out the roof of your mouth. Enjoy it anyways.

  1. I am so grateful for this site’s Yeast Converter! []
  2. And slightly reduced even further. We found the Serious Eats recipe to be a bit too thick in the crust. []
  3. We suggest: fresh mushrooms, green pepper, and spicy pepperoni salami — all sliced thinly. []
  4. as of November 2016 []

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 ptfe 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.


Garlic Bread

Our Netto practically across the street from us has closed with very little warning (about a week). This is bad news; it means the only grocery store on the island is the Biomarkt next to the Netto. Not that the Biomarkt itself is inherently bad, but the selection is not terribly good and everything there is expensive. One of the things we won’t be able to just stop in and pick up at Netto anymore is frozen bake-it-yourself garlic bread.

But then I found this recipe — and maybe that’s a silver lining. This is fast, easy, cheap, and most importantly, tasty.

1 baguette
5 T (62g) butter, softened
2 t olive oil
3 large cloves garlic, crushed
1 t oregano
salt and pepper to taste
a little shredded cheese (we like fluffy parmesan)

Cut the baguette in half the long way, splitting it open. Cut the halves into serving-sized pieces. In a small bowl, mix butter, olive oil, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper. Spread the mixture evenly on the bread slices. On a medium baking sheet, arrange the slices evenly and broil a few minutes, until slightly brown. Check frequently so they do not burn. Remove from broiler. Top with cheese and return to broiler another minute or two, until cheese is slightly brown and melted. Serve at once.

Buttermilk Biscuits

Buttermilk Biscuits | Serious Eats : Recipes.

Oh. My. Goodness. This is it. This is the recipe I have been looking for all these years. These are even better than the biscuits I couldn’t get von dem Obersten. The original recipe is linked above; my version (chiefly metric conversions) is below. I particularly liked the hint about not twisting the cutter when you cut them out to keep the texture optimum.

2 1/2 cup (375 g) unbleached all purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 (150 g) stick very cold butter, plus 1 tablespoon
1 cup very cold buttermilk

1. Preheat the oven to 450°F (220°C).

2. In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt till combined. Cut the butter into 1/2 inch (1.5 cm) cubes and drop into the flour mixture. Take the butter pieces between your fingers and press them until they are as thin as a nickel (1€).

3. Place the butter and flour mixture in the freezer for 15 minutes (that’s actually just a quarter of an hour).

4. Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a small bowl and set aside for brushing the biscuits later.

5. Lightly flour your work surface.

6. Take the chilled flour and butter mixture out of the freezer. Slowly incorporate the buttermilk into the flour mixture. Gently fold the dough together with a spatula. The dough should not have any dry flour pockets and should not be overly sticky.

7. Transfer the dough to your work surface and pat it into a rough square. The original recipe instructs you to roll the dough into a rectangle about 1 inch thick, but that seemed too thick to me. I am sure I my average thickness was only about 2 cm and I didn’t roll out the dough at all — I just kind of flattened it with my hands. Using a 3 inch (7 cm) round cutter dusted with flour, cut out as many biscuits as you can. Do not twist the cutter; press the cutter straight down as you cut. Dip the cutter in flour between each cut. Gather the scraps and re-roll the dough until it’s the same thickness as before and cut out as many biscuits as possible. You should end up with about 9 biscuits according to the original, but we only got 8.

8. Brush the tops of the biscuits with the melted butter. Bake until biscuits look golden brown, about 17 to 20 minutes. Cool before serving—if you can wait that long. Actually, hold off if you can — seriously, they were even better at room temperature.

Cheddar Bacon Scallion Scones

Scone success at last! We’ve made scones before – they’ve always been sad and hard. I think the combination of a normally functioning oven and a good recipe made the difference. We might tinker with this in the future to make sweet scones as well.

3 c flour plus extra for dusting
1 T baking powder
1 t salt
1/2 t ground black pepper
1/2 t cayenne pepper
1/2 c butter, cut into small pieces
2/3 c cheddar, grated
3 green onions, chopped
3/4 c buttermilk
8 slices bacon, cooked, drained and crumbled
1 egg, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 400°F/204°C.

Combine dry ingredients. Add in butter and work with your hands to combine – make sure to work all lumps of butter into flour mixture. Add cheese, green onions, and buttermilk, and mix together. Add bacon and egg and mix until all the ingredients are incorporated.

Bacon Cheddar Scallion Scones - PC191357Turn dough out onto a floured flat surface and knead a few times to smooth out the dough – it will remain lumpy and sticky. Form dough into a ball, then flatten into a 1/2-inch thick disk. Cut the disk into wedges (we got 8). Spread wedges across a parchment-lined baking sheet, leaving a little room around them. Bake for 16-18 (we went for 20) minutes, or until the bottom of the scones start to brown and the cheese in the scone begins to turn golden. Best served warm.