Margherita Pizza

margherita pizza - trust in kim

 

A Margherita pizza is the true test of good ingredients and a great pizza crust recipe. It is so simple, but everything has to be just right to make it taste delicious. I like to use the A16 Restaurant dough, which requires planning ahead a day or two. It has a perfect chewiness, with a crispness on the edges that bubble up and blister. The tomato sauce is simple; just some canned San Marzano tomatoes, crushed by hand.

This pizza isn’t like one from a take-out place, with a crust thick enough to hold up a ton of soggy toppings and cheese. This one is light, with a crispy crust, and you can taste each ingredient. Delizioso!

What you need:

  • 1/4 teaspoon yeast
  • 1 & 1/2 cups warm water
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 4 cups “oo” flour or all-purpose (I used all-purpose)
  • one 28-ounce can of tomatoes (San Marzano if you can find them)
  • 1-2 teaspoons salt
  • fresh mozzarella
  • freshly grated parmesan
  • fresh basil (optional)

What you do:

  1. Begin preparing the dough a day or two before you want to make the pizza. You can do this by hand, but it’s a bit more work than using a machine. Pour the warm (not hot – just body temperature) water into a mixer fitted with a dough hook, and then sprinkle the yeast on top.  Leave it for about 10 minutes and it should dissolve and become foamy – if it doesn’t your water was the wrong temperature, or the yeast is dead, so you need to try again with new yeast.
  2. Stir in the olive oil and salt.  Add most of the flour and mix on low for 2 minutes.  Knead on medium-low for about 10 minutes – it will pull away from the bowl and begin to look smoother.
  3. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and let it rest for 5 minutes. Knead once more on medium-low for 10 minutes – it will be smooth and quite soft.  If it seems much too sticky you can add a little more flour.  Coat a bowl with a little olive oil and then coat both sides of the dough with olive oil, placing the dough in the bowl.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge over night (or two or three nights).
  4. In the morning remove the  dough from the fridge and punch it down.  Fold the sides of the dough under and put it back in the bowl.  Cover the bowl with a damp towel and let it sit in a warm (not hot) place until about 2 hours before you are going to use it.
  5. Punch the dough down and divide it into 4 pieces.  Form each piece into balls and cover them with a damp towel for about 2 hours.  By this time the dough should have doubled in volume.  If it starts to get a skin on it you can spray it with a little water.
  6. To prepare the sauce, just put the tomatoes and their juice into a bowl and squish them into little bits with your hands.  Add the salt.
  7. Preheat the oven to 500-550 F. I used a brick oven, which had to be lit a few hours before to heat it sufficiently. This makes the Best Pizza, but understandably, most people will be baking in a conventional oven.
  8. To form the crusts, shape the dough into a disk with your hands.  Push down in the centre with your palm and pull the dough out gently with your other hand, rotating slightly until you have a crust that is about 10-12 inches/25-30 cm in diameter with a slightly raised edge. Dust your baking pan generously with flour and place the crust on it.  I don’t have a proper pizza stone or pan, and the baking tray I used worked just fine.
  9. Spread some tomato sauce onto the crust, then add the mozzarella and a light sprinkling of parmesan. You want to go light on the toppings or the crust will become soggy.
  10. Bake for 6-7 minutes, until the crust is crisp, golden, with some dark blistering, and the top is bubbling.
  11. Add a little fresh basil to the top if you are using it.

Buon Appetito!

 

making pizza crust - trust in kim
forming the crust by hand

 

baking in a brick oven - trust in kim
My dad had the job of baking in the brick oven.

Oma’s Mennonite Bread

brinck oven bread - trust in Kim

brick oven - trust in kim

As I was planning a trip up to the family cabin at Mahood Lake I knew I had to make my Mennonite Oma’s Russian bread.  I love taking the opportunity to bake in that oven when I go up to the lake, because it’s the only place where I have access to one. and it is so much fun.  I usually just make pizza in there, but this time I wanted to branch out a little, so I thought of my Oma’s awesome dark-crusted bread.  My Oma was born in the Ukraine where they made this type of bread, and then she lived in Paraguay for 15 years where she also baked it in an outdoor oven.  In the early 1980’s my Opa built this great brick oven, in the style of the Paraguayan Mennonite  ovens.  My Oma always made this great bread – it was dark brown, almost black on the outside, with a thick crust, and tender inside.  Now, I’ve got the recipe, and I made a delicious loaf of bread, although I fully admit that it is nothing like my Oma’s bread.  I asked her in the past how she got that great crust on it, and she told me she just put all the ingredients together – so she had a magic touch that I can’t figure out.  Oma passed away a few weeks ago, so her secret it gone too.

You don’t need the brick oven to make this bread, it’ll work fine in a conventional oven.  I used a machine with a dough hook, but you could do it by hand if you’re feeling energetic.  This recipe makes 3-4 loaves.

If you’re using a brick oven you need to get a really good fire going so it’s smoking hot in there.  I pushed some of the coals to the back of the oven so it would retain heat for a full hour.

What you need:

1 medium-sized potato, scrubbed

2 cups buttermilk

1 tablespoon yeast

1 tablespoon salt

1 cup rye flour

1 cup bran

6 & 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (approximately)

What you do:

1. Boil the potato in about 3 cups of water until it is soft.  Place the potato, saving the liquid, in a 2 cup measuring cup.  Smash the potato up with the back of a fork, then add enough of the potato water to fill the measuring cup to 2 cups. Allow this to come to room temperature.

2. In a large mixer bowl add about 2 tablespoons of warm water and sprinkle the yeast top.  Wait until the yeast begins to bubble and is all dissolved (if it doesn’t your yeast may be dead).

3. Add the potato water and buttermilk to the yeast mixture.  With the machine running and using a dough hook, gradually add the flours, bran and salt.  Mix until you have a moist dough, using more or less flour to get this consistency.  Keep mixing until the dough begins to form a bit of a ball.

4. Remove the bowl from the mixer and cover it with a clean damp tea towel.  Let it rise to about double in volume; this will take about 1- 2 hours, depending on how warm your kitchen is.

5. Punch the dough down, then turn it out onto a floured surface.  Give it a few kneads, then cut into 3-4 equal pieces.  Form a loaf with the seam in the bottom and place in loaf pans. Cover with the damp tea towel and let it rise, again to about double, which should take slightly less time than the first.

6. Heat the oven to 400F.  When the loaves have doubled in size, and they hold an indentation when you poke the dough lightly, they are ready to go in the oven.   If you want to get more of a crust on your bread, you can spray the inside of the oven with water just before the bread goes in.  Just try not to spray the light bulb, as it might shatter. Place the bread in the oven and bake for about 1 hour. 

7. You will know the loaves are ready when you tap on the bottom of the pan and it sounds hollow, so keep an eye on it in the last 10 minutes or so of baking to see if it’s looking done, and test it using this method.

8. Remove the bread from the pans and let it cool on wire racks.  Once it is mostly cool you can slice it up and then slather on some butter, but we just broke of satisfying chunks and ate some with butter,  and on some we added apricot jam.  Not quite like Oma made it, but delicious nonetheless.

bread with jam - trust in kim

My Oma -trust in kim
My Oma