Neapolitan Style Pizza

I am always on the constant pursuit to try to perfect pizza. You might already be familiar with all of the pizza recipes I’ve made, and as they have always been great (in my opinion), I am always looking to improve on the dough. I believe with this last batch, I probably did a fairly close job to making a neapolitan style pizza dough. It had the right amount of air pockets, and a good chew.

This past week allowed me to tinker with the dough and bust out the KettlePizza (which I love using). Granted the pizzas only took minutes to cook in the KettlePizza, the dough itself was the star and took days to ferment.

Neapolitan Style Pizza Recipe
Neapolitan Style Pizza Recipe

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 lb 00 flour, plus more for dusting your work surface
  • 25 g kosher salt
  • .80 g active dry yeast
  • 2 1/4 cups warm water
  • 1 tbsp olive oil, optional
  • buffalo mozzarella
  • your favorite pizza sauce
  • your favorite toppings

The goal is to measure by weight, so if you have a digital food scale (which I highly recommend), use it. I found that measuring by weight rather than volume is one of the keys to a good hydration ratio. I also have been using the double zero style flour as it is a bit finer and gets the texture I am looking for.

Start by adding the flour to a mixing bowl along with the salt, yeast, and then slowly add in the water. Slowly mix, either by hand, or what I use, the KitchenAid mixer. Mix for only a minute or so, then let it rest for a few minutes. After a few minutes scrape the sides of the bowl with a wooden spoon to get any flour into the center of the mixing bowl, then mix on medium for about 5 minutes.

After 5 minutes, turn off the mixer. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, then with a kitchen towel. You will place this in a warm area to let the dough rise. I like to place a coffee mug filled with water and place into our microwave for about a minute, then let the steam build up. I then remove the mug, and place the covered bowl in there.

Once the dough has risen, about double in size, if not more, then lightly flour your work surface, and divide the dough into 3 equal portions. Lightly oil with olive oil, place in a sealed container, and place into your refrigerator for 4 days to ferment. Yep, I did 4 days, and it was awesome!

Neapolitan Style Pizza Recipe
Neapolitan Style Pizza Recipe

After 4 days, and when you are ready to make the pizzas, remove the dough, a few hours in advance, from the refrigerator to let it come close to room temperature.

Lightly flour your work surface with the double zero flour. Remove one of the balls of dough from the container and place onto the floured surface.

Gently working from the center outward, begin shaping your dough into a pizza like shape. I find that the circle does not need to be perfect, but once you have formed your dough into a thin circle, then move it onto a lightly dusted pizza paddle. Now begin building your pizza.

Take some sauce and lightly coat your pizza. Then top with a a good buffalo mozzarella cheese. I tear off chunks of the cheese and top on the pizza. I’ve found that buffalo mozzarella cheese works way better than a store bought shredded type.  Then top with your favorite ingredients. The pizza above used thinly sliced mushrooms, onion, and bell peppers.

If you are using an oven, preheat it to the highest temperature, along with the pizza stone, or if you are using the KettlePizza then make sure your kettle is heated. I like my kettle heated to around 700 degrees.

Slide your pizza in onto the stone or into your kettle, and cook until the crust is golden and the toppings are cooked.

The end result is a perfect crust that was crisp, airy, and had the perfect chew, and that four day fermentation did the trick! I’m sure I will continue to tinker with dough throughout my life, but so far this one is the shining star. Good luck and I hope you enjoy!

Thumbprint Cookies

As I noted in my previous post with the easy homemade turtles, I am not one for baking sweet treats, but this time of year always gets me, especially with my youngest daughter. She has that baking spirit in her, loves falling measurements (I do not), and has that look in her eye as though she just wants more and more Christmas cookies. I’ve done my share in the past, and typically only knock out one or two cookies per holiday season, but I decided I needed to make another cookie for her, along with her help, and decided to almost create a shortbread style thumbprint cookie.

Simple Thumbprint Cookies

Simple, easy, and quick. Perfect for me, and my daughter.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 12 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 1/4 cup of flour
  • Hershey Kisses

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Get a mixer out with a paddle attachment. Add the butter, salt, powdered sugar, salt, and vanilla, and beat on medium heat until it gets nice and creamy. Slowly pour the flour, continuing on medium heat. Once the flour is incorporated and a bit thick, slowly add in the milk and incorporate until you have a nice cookie dough.

Roll these into about teaspoon to tablespoon style balls, forming them with a pit of pressure as the dough is a bit rough. Place onto a non-greased cookie sheet, continuing until all balls are formed.

Place the cookie sheet into the preheated oven and cook for about 8-10 minutes, then remove and to each cookie, make a thumbprint in the middle of each cookie. They will be a bit hot, but my daughter could handle the heat, so it’s not all that bad.

How to make thumbprint cookiesReturn the cookie sheet back into the oven, and cook for about another 10 minutes or so, or until the edges get a bit golden brown.

During this time, start unwrapping the Hershey chocolate kisses.

Remove from the oven, and begin placing a Hershey kiss into each thumbprint.

Let them cool a bit, then pour yourself a nice glass of milk, and enjoy. These cookies, as though they are a bit dry like a shortbread style cookie, are simple, delicious, and perfect for the holidays. Merry Christmas everyone!

 

 

Cauliflower and Olive Pizza

One of my colleagues recently returned from New York City where he had planned out an eating tour while being out there. One of the places he had on his list was Jim Lahey’s Sullivan Street Bakery. When he returned to the office, he told great stories of the places he went, but in particular he was excited about the bakery. A while back, he turned me on to Jim Lahey’s recent book as well, called ‘My Bread‘. I’ve been hooked on his pizza dough from that point, so when my colleague came back boasting about how good this cauliflower pizza was, I knew I had to give it a try, but put a little spin on it as well.

The beautiful thing about this pizza is not only the simplicity of it, but the fact that the cauliflower is so thinly sliced, it brought a whole new level of taste to a pizza, that along with the briny punch of the olive. It was a perfect pairing, and who knew it was going to be this good.

Cauliflower and Olive Pizza Recipe

Let’s get started.

Ingredients for the pizza dough:

  • 3 3/4 cups of bread flour
  • 2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp sugar
  • 1 1/3 cup room temperature water
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Ingredients for the pizza:

  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups of milk
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of cracked black pepper
  • 1 medium head of cauliflower, cut into quarters, leaves removed
  • 1/2 cup of green olives, no pimentos, sliced in half
  • 1/2 cup of finely grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tbsp Italian breadcrumbs

Start by making the dough. Now you can let this rise for 12 hours, or what I’ve been liking is letting it ferment on the counter, covered, for up to 3 days.  Add your water, yeast, and sugar to a small mixing bowl. Give that a simple stir, then let the yeast bloom, about 15 minutes. During this time, add the flour and salt to a larger mixing bowl. I use the same large mixing bowl to let the dough rise in. Give that a stir. Once the yeast has bloomed, pour it into the large mixing bowl, and if you have a mixer, gently mix the ingredients until the dough forms. Continue mixing for about 2 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap, a towel, and set the bowl in a warm spot until the dough doubles or triples in size, about 4 hours. Again, I go longer on the rising process.

About one hour before you are ready to make the pizza, preheat your oven to 500 degrees. Once the dough has risen, take some flour and lightly toss it onto a pastry board. Use a bench scraper or wooden spoon and take the dough out of the bowl and onto the board. Let it rest for a few minutes while you make the sauce, and prepare your cauliflower.

Cauliflower Pizza Ingredients

To make the bechamel sauce, melt the butter in a small sauce pan. Once melted, add the flour, and cook the flour on medium heat, stirring for a few minutes. Once the flour is cooked through, add in the milk, and continue to stir until you have a nice thick sauce. Season with salt and pepper, and set it aside.

If you have a mandoline, I strongly encourage you to use it on this recipe. Thinly slice the cauliflower, almost paper thin if you can. Do the same with the garlic. Add both to a mixing bowl, and toss in the green olives, parmesan cheese, salt, olive oil, and red pepper flakes. Give that a good toss.

Add the olive oil to a large baking sheet and lightly coat the sheet. Use the dough and pull and stretch it, gently, to cover the baking sheet.

Add the sauce to lightly coat the dough. Cover the sauce with the cauliflower mixture, from edge to edge. Sprinkle with the breadcrumbs, and place into the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, or until it is a golden brown.

Cauliflower and Olive Pizza Recipe

Remove the pizza from the baking sheet and place onto an aerated cookie sheet. Slice and serve.

When I first bit into the pizza, I was literally blown away. You get this creamy base, and the cauliflower had this light earthiness, great flavor along with the perfection of roasted garlic. When you bit into the olive, well, it was an explosion in your mouth. I never knew that the combination of cauliflower and olives would be so amazing! I was hesitant if my wife would try it as she is not a fan of olives, but she tried a slice, and fell in love. This cauliflower and olive pizza was dynamite, and I’m so glad my colleague talked about it and led me to make it. I hope you enjoy.

 

Apple Turnovers

Well, I still have not been able to make an apple pie with all of the apples we recently acquired from our apple picking a couple of weeks ago. Yes, even after every kid gets their daily apple for lunch, we are still left with plenty of more apples. As I thought of making another batch of apple crisp, I wanted to surprise my daughter with a new dessert, and one that she has never had before; the apple turnover. If you have never had an apple turnover, it is essentially a pastry that is stuffed with either something sweet, or something savory, but typically something sweet. When you see the baked pastry, it often reminds me of an empanada or strudel.

Apple Turnovers

This dessert is really easy to make, super delicious, and bakes in less than 20 minutes.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb Puff Pastry Sheets
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted
  • 3 apples, peeled, cut into 1/4 inch dice
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground clove
  • 2 tsp corn starch
  • 2 tbsp all purpose flour

To a mixing bowl, add the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and cornstarch, and give a good mix.

To a large baking sheet, add a sheet of parchment paper and lightly brush with some of the butter.

Add the diced apples to the sugar mixture, and stir to coat. Add in the lemon juice, and stir again.

Heat the apple mixture on medium heat for about 5 minutes, then set aside and let cool.

How to make apple turnovers

During this time, lightly flour your pastry surface.

Unfold one sheet of the puff pastry onto the surface. Dust the top with a bit of flour, then use a rolling pin to roll out the dough so that it is about 12 inches long and wide.

Cut the dough into four squares.

Using the egg wash, brush the edges of the dough.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Add about 1/4 cup of the cooled apple mixture into the center of each square.

Fold over the dough to match each corner, then use a fork and gently push down onto the edges to seal each turnover. Use a strong spatula to move each sealed turnover onto the baking sheet.  Use a sharp knife and add two small slits onto the top of each turnover so that it release the steam while baking.

Repeat with remaining squares, and remaining sheet of puff pastry.

Once all of the turnovers are on the baking sheet, brush with the remaining egg mixture, the pour over any remaining sauce from the apple mixture.

Place the baking sheet into the preheated oven and bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Once cooked, remove the turnovers from the oven and set aside to let cool, about 10 minutes or so.

Apple Turnovers

When my daughter came home, and my wife for that matter, they were not only surprised by the awesome smell inside of the house (you can’t beat that apple, cinnamon smell), but their eyes lit up, and they both immediately asked ‘what are those!?’.

After I asked them to take one (I’m not a big fan of eating dessert before dinner), they were both blown away. They almost remind you of those warm apple pies you used to eat as a kid when you went to McDonalds, but much, much better. The exterior is nice and sticky from the sauce being cooked on top (I could just eat that alone), and then you get this warm, flaky crust that you can just peel apart the layers. The warm, and gooey interior is nothing short of comforting. The clove really makes the apple mixture pop and makes you wanting more.

These were a perfect dessert and a perfect snack for the family over the course of a couple of days. I hope you enjoy.

Apple Turnovers
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
Ingredients
  • 1 lb Puff Pastry Sheets
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted
  • 3 apples, peeled, cut into ¼ inch dice
  • ½ lemon, juiced
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp ground clove
  • 2 tsp corn starch
  • 2 tbsp all purpose flour
Instructions
  1. To a mixing bowl, add the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, and cornstarch, and give a good mix.
  2. To a large baking sheet, add a sheet of parchment paper and lightly brush with some of the butter.
  3. Add the diced apples to the sugar mixture, and stir to coat. Add in the lemon juice, and stir again.
  4. Heat the apple mixture on medium heat for about 5 minutes, then set aside and let cool.
  5. During this time, lightly flour your pastry surface.
  6. Unfold one sheet of the puff pastry onto the surface. Dust the top with a bit of flour, then use a rolling pin to roll out the dough so that it is about 12 inches long and wide.
  7. Cut the dough into four squares.
  8. Using the egg wash, brush the edges of the dough.
  9. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  10. Add about ¼ cup of the cooled apple mixture into the center of each square.
  11. Fold over the dough to match each corner, then use a fork and gently push down onto the edges to seal each turnover. Use a strong spatula to move each sealed turnover onto the baking sheet. Use a sharp knife and add two small slits onto the top of each turnover so that it release the steam while baking.
  12. Repeat with remaining squares, and remaining sheet of puff pastry.
  13. Once all of the turnovers are on the baking sheet, brush with the remaining egg mixture, the pour over any remaining sauce from the apple mixture.
  14. Place the baking sheet into the preheated oven and bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown.
  15. Once cooked, remove the turnovers from the oven and set aside to let cool, about 10 minutes or so.
  16. When my daughter came home, and my wife for that matter, they were not only surprised by the awesome smell inside of the house (you can't beat that apple, cinnamon smell), but their eyes lit up, and they both immediately asked 'what are those!?'.
  17. After I asked them to take one (I'm not a big fan of eating dessert before dinner), they were both blown away. They almost remind you of those warm apple pies you used to eat as a kid when you went to McDonalds, but much, much better. The exterior is nice and sticky from the sauce being cooked on top (I could just eat that alone), and then you get this warm, flaky crust that you can just peel apart the layers. The warm, and gooey interior is nothing short of comforting. The clove really makes the apple mixture pop and makes you wanting more.
  18. These were a perfect dessert and a perfect snack for the family over the course of a couple of days. I hope you enjoy.