Sunday, September 15, 2013

Ciabatta Bread

For years I've been trying to develop the best possible hamburger bun.  I tried lots of combinations of eggs, flours, milk, water, oil - you name it.  Then I decided to create a ciabatta recipe, and realized that it's 2-in-1.  This ciabatta bread makes not only perfect panini, but also perfect hamburger buns.  And there's no milk or eggs!

Now, I realize that "real" ciabatta is made from a much longer, more artisan-style process, sort of like a sour dough.  This recipe is just a simple double-rise yeasted bread dough.  I may try to develop a recipe for a more traditional process, but that will come down the road.  This version is simple and effective, and anyone can accomplish great bread in about an hour and a half.  

This bread recipe gives you the best hole structure and the most open crumb of any of my bread recipes.

Ciabatta Bread Recipe

Makes four 4-inch square ciabattas

For this recipe you will need:

225g gluten-free bread flour 
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 TBSP sugar
- warm water
- apple cider vinegar
- extra flour - I recommend potato starch

In the bowl of your stand mixer, whisk together:

260g (1 1/8 C) warm water (100-115 degrees F)
2 tsp apple cider vinegar


15g whole psyllium husk or 10g ground psyllium husk

Whisk the psyllium husk into the wet ingredients until the mixture begins to thicken, 1-2 minutes.  Add:

225g gluten-free bread flour 
1/2 tsp salt
1 TBSP sugar
1 tsp yeast

Mix the dough until well blended.  Cover and let rise for 30-60 minutes.  Punch the dough down, then knead for a few minutes, making sure that all the bubbles are out of the dough.  Place the dough on a sheet of parchment paper.

Flour the dough generously.  With a dough scraper or the side of your hand, cut the dough to divide the into four equal parts.

You can simply pat the dough into the shape you would like, or you can roll it out to form ciabatta shapes.

Be sure to brush off any excess flour on the inside of the folds.  Fold your rolled-out dough like a letter then flip it over to place it seam-side down on the parchment paper.  Press each shaped loaf with your fingers to get rid of any air bubbles. Dust each loaf with a little flour if desired.

Cover the bread and let it rise for another 30 minutes.  In the mean time, heat up your oven to 450 degrees.  If you have a pizza stone, place that in the oven to heat up.  If not, just use a regular baking sheet - no need to heat it up.

Once the bread has risen, move it to the baking sheet or pizza stone by using the parchment paper to convey it - no need to take it off the paper.  Bake for 20 minutes.  If the bread hasn't browned to your liking, you can brush each loaf with a little oil and turn the oven down to bake at 350 for another 2-5 minutes or until browned.  Cool the bread on a baking rack, then enjoy as sandwiches, buns or slice for snacks.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Gluten-free Pizza on the BBQ

What is Pizza crust but a flat bread?  I have been experimenting with my bread recipes lately and decided to try cooking one on the grill.  To my delight, it worked wonderfully!  No, it doesn't fall through the grill or break apart.  In fact, as it cooks it firms up nicely and I was able to flip the crust with tongs.  The crust gets a nice char and the cheese adopts a wonderful smokey flavor.  Once I figured out this recipe, I was finally able to taste the delights of BBQ pizza!

Recipe for BBQ Pizza Dough

Prep time: 5 minutes
Rest time: 20-30 minutes (fastest method) 
Cook time: 5-10 minutes
Makes two 10 to 12-inch pizzas

Ingredients and other things you will need:

225g GF Bread Flour Blend
1 TBSP sugar
1/2 tsp salt
15g whole psyllium husk or 10g ground psyllium husk
225g Warm Water
2 tsp. Apple Cider Vinegar
1 TBSP olive oil
1 tsp yeast
Parchment Paper
extra oil for the grill
paper towels

I use a charcoal Barbecue grill like this one, but I have heard of this working similarly on a gas grill.  If you have a pizza peel, you will feel very professional, but it's not necessary.  You can improvise with a flat cookie sheet to remove the pizza from the grill.

In a mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, place:

225g Warm Water
15g whole psyllium husk or 10g ground psyllium husk

Whisk together just until all the psyllium is wet.  Place in the bowl:

2 tsp. Apple Cider Vinegar
1 TBSP olive oil
1 tsp yeast
225g GF Bread Flour Blend
1 TBSP sugar
1/2 tsp salt

Mix all the ingredients together with the dough hook of the stand mixer, or with a silicon spoon, until everything is thoroughly blended.  The dough will seem wet and sticky, and kind of limp.  It should be much thicker than a cake batter, however, and more like a wet bread dough.  It will firm up as you go.

Optional: if you have an extra half hour to kill, you can let the dough rest in the bowl for 30 minutes and re-mix before going to the next step.  This firms up the dough and adds flavor.

Place a piece of parchment paper down on a flat surface.  Put a small puddle of oil in the middle of the parchment and also oil the dough a little for easier handling.  Divide the dough in half.  Put one half of the dough on the parchment paper and flatten it out into a disk with your fingers, making sure it is well oiled on all sides.  Roll the dough out to a thin circle 10 to 12 inches across.  Repeat with the second half of the dough (or refrigerate it or freeze it for use later).  Cover and let the pizza crust rest for 20-30 minutes.  In the meantime, start up your barbecue and prepare your toppings.

When the BBQ is hot, you can arrange the coals evenly on the bottom for a nice char on the crust, or you can bank the coals on the side for slower cooking and less char.

Oil the grill by taking a sheet of paper towel, soaking it with a little oil, and, using tongs, wipe the grill with the oil.

Take the pizza dough by the parchment paper and flip it top side down onto the grill.  Peel away the parchment paper and cover the BBQ with the lid.  Repeat with the second pizza if they both fit at once.  Cook the dough for about two minutes, or until they look a little browned on the bottom, then take some tongs and flip them over.  

Top the pizzas quickly (but go easy, don't use too much!) and cover the BBQ with the lid to cook the toppings.

When the cheese is melted your pizza is ready.  Scoop it up off the grill with a pizza peel or a flat cookie sheet.  Let the pizzas rest for a few minutes, then enjoy!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Summer Recap

I'm not sure if any of you noticed, but I took a bit of a hiatus from blogging this summer.  I also took a hiatus from cooking.  It has been a hot one here in Portland, Oregon this summer!  Last summer I baked bread all summer long trying to develop the best bread flour mix for all of you here.  This summer I made bread only twice.  Baking wasn't at the top of my list when the kitchen was already 90 degrees!

I also travelled quite a bit this summer.  I attended a cousin's wedding back home in Carson City, Nevada where I grew up.  I helped rescue a hawk with a broken wing there.  (We called W.A.I.F. and they came and picked up the bird.)  I stayed at a fire lookout tower in southern Oregon.  I went to a family reunion in Bend.  I did quite a bit of camping, and my garden is going gangbusters!

Now I'm back at home and ready to dig in and cook up some new recipes.  Something to look forward to this autumn will be some really great information on how to make sourdough bread.  I've been developing some recipes and new methods to create a sourdough starter in just a few days - rather than the typical way which takes a few weeks.  I am really excited to share all the things I've learned!  I'll also be working on creating some new recipes that will save time in the kitchen, like a quick and easy pie crust recipe.

I'll leave you with some photos of my summer.  Come back and check in with me again soon to see my new recipes!

At the fire lookout

This is the hawk I helped to rescue.  His right wing was broken.
My first garden tomato of the year, July 10th
Easy Pie Crust

Some serious sourdough research going on