Saturday night (sourdough) pizza!

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Different toppings for different people!

The sourdough pizza crust

Adapted from Wild Bread: Handbaked sourdough artisan breads in your own kitchen.

Sourdough pizza is healthier than pizza made with baker’s yeast. The lactic acid bacteria in the sourdough culture provide myriad health benefits. Our pizza crust is also part whole wheat flour (we’re moving towards 100%). Whole grains are also much healthier than refined carbohydrates. Furthermore, I hand grind my flour, so it tastes sweet. Freshly-ground whole grain flour is healthier than store-bought whole grain flour. Store bought whole wheat flour tastes rancid to me. It doesn’t matter whether the flour comes from the bulk bin of a natural food store or is a well-known national brand. The highly polyunsaturated oil in wheat germ goes rancid as quickly as flax and hemp oils do, within weeks.

See my post on making pizza dough and rolling it out.

My pizza-making steps

  1. Preheat oven to 550ºF. Prepare pizza toppings. Steam broccoli.
  2. Half-bake crust at 525ºF for 10 minutes (at 7,000 feet).
  3. Spread on sauce. Add toppings except for broccoli, bake pizza another 10 minutes.
  4. Turn off oven, take out baked pizza, sprinkle on vegan cheese (I use Daiya Pepperjack), place back in oven a few minutes to melt cheese.
  5. Remove pizza from oven and place on cooling rack (I slide the pizza off a parchment paper-covered pizza pan).
  6. Place steamed broccoli on top.
  7. Allow pizza to cool at least 20 minutes before slicing to ensure that the crust finishes baking; as bread cools, the starches gelatinize, forming the final crumb (texture) of the bread.
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An Uzbeki bread stamp

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A loaf of my whole wheat sourdough flatbread stamped with a bread stamp I bought from Uzbekistan. I bought the stamp on Etsy. Bread stamps prevent flatbreads from developing pockets like pita bread.; it’s the same principal as when I use a fork to keep pizza crust flat. You stamp the bread after it has risen, right before you bake it. Central Asian bread stamps are particularly artistic and come in many different designs, often with a floral look.

A rainy baking day in Santa Fe

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What I’ve been doing today: I baked whole wheat loaf bread, flatbread and peppermint chocolate chip okara cookies with flour I ground by hand this morning.

Sourdough pizza with mock tomato sauce: Part II

Part II: Making a healthy sourdough pizza

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See Part I here.

The sourdough pizza crust

Adapted from Wild Bread: Handbaked sourdough artisan breads in your own kitchen.

Sourdough pizza is healthier than pizza made with baker’s yeast. The lactic acid bacteria in the sourdough culture provide myriad health benefits. Our pizza crust is also part whole wheat flour (we’re moving towards 100%). Whole grains are also much healthier than refined carbohydrates. Furthermore, I hand grind my flour, so it tastes sweet. Freshly-ground whole grain flour is healthier than store-bought whole grain flour. Store bought whole wheat flour tastes rancid to me. It doesn’t matter whether the flour comes from the bulk bin of a natural food store or is a well-known national brand. The highly polyunsaturated oil in wheat germ goes rancid as quickly as flax and hemp oils do, within weeks.

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My pizza-making steps

  1. Preheat oven to 550ºF. Prepare pizza toppings. Steam broccoli.
  2. Half-bake crust at 525ºF for 10 minutes (at 7,000 feet).
  3. First photo: Spread on sauce. Add toppings except for broccoli, bake pizza another 10 minutes.
  4. Turn off oven, take out baked pizza (second photo), sprinkle on vegan cheese, place back in oven a few minutes to melt cheese.
  5. Remove pizza from oven and place on cooling rack (I slide the pizza off a parchment paper-covered pizza pan).
  6. Third photo: Place steamed broccoli on top.
  7. Allow pizza to cool at least 20 minutes before slicing to ensure that the crust finishes baking; as bread cools, the starches gelatinize, forming the final crumb (texture) of the bread.

 

Sourdough pizza with mock tomato sauce: Part I

Part I: Making the pizza sauce

Adapted from The Natural Canning Resource Book: A guide to home canning with locally-grown, sustainably-produced and fair-trade foods and Growing Food in the Southwest Mountains: A guide to high-altitude, semi-arid home permaculture gardens:

Tomatoes are a summer and early fall crop. It’s easy to home can tomato paste and tomato sauce, of course, but you can also try mock tomato sauce, a winter vegetable pizza sauce alternative to tomatoes. Beets and winter squash are excellent root cellar vegetables; choose good “keeping” varieties with tougher skins if you are growing your own for long term storage. Beets and squash can also be home canned safely in diced form only (thick low acid purees cannot be pressure canned safely at home).

Beets and deep orange winter squash are also more nutritious than tomato sauce. According to the Web site NutritionData.self.com, an ounce of ordinary pizza sauce has 1/3 as much fiber as either 1 oz beets or 1 oz squash. Pizza sauce typically has no vitamin A or C while an ounce of squash provides 29% of daily recommended Vitamin A and 4% of recommended vitamin C. Beets and deep orange winter squash (and pumpkin, which is winter squash) are high in nitrates. Nitrates (as opposed to unhealthy nitrites) boost nitric oxide in your blood, which dilates blood vessels, improving blood and oxygen flow to muscles and extremities. This also lowers blood pressure. (Dark leafy green vegetables are higher in nitrates than beets, a good reason to add beet greens, broccoli, kale, collards, etc. on top).

When I first made pizza with mock tomato sauce years ago, I didn’t tell Dan the sauce was different. He thought he hated beets, like a lot of people. I figured I’d let him eat the pizza first, see how he reacted, or if he even noticed, and then tell him what he ate. He LOVED the pizza. He kept going back for more, for a total of three slices. He kept saying, “this pizza is really good, but why is the sauce so pink?” When he found out that he had been eating beets, he was pleasantly surprised.

Solar cooking in cold winter climates

Solar cooking is an option year-round in sunny climates, even here at 7,000 feet elevation. The daytime highs have been barely above freezing, but that doesn’t matter. Air temperature has almost nothing to do with the temperature inside a solar cooker. Solar cookers are insulated. But more importantly, cooking temperatures are related to the strength of the sunlight. Clear skies = higher cooker temperatures. Snow on the ground raises cooker temperatures because snow reflects additional sunlight into the cooker! It’s even possible to solar cook at 58° north latitude in southern Norway. Solar cooking is also practiced in such high latitude places as Minnesota in January and Ontario, Canada.

This past week on a cold sunny day, I opened the solar oven at 9:45. The temperature outside was barely 30ºF. I accidentally left the oven door latch stuck in the door, so the oven door was propped open 1/8-inch, yet the oven had still managed to reach 200ºF one hour later. I put the squash in the cooker fiver minutes later, closed the oven door properly, and set the kitchen timer for 45 minutes. When the timer went off, the oven was 250ºF. I added three whole beets to the black granite ware roaster pot.

Clouds had moved in, making the sky partly cloudy, so I figured the cooking time would be longer than the one additional hour I had anticipated. Even so, the highest oven temperature reached was 325ºF. pretty good for a day that barely rose above freezing. I took the roaster out of the oven at 1:45 p.m. The beets and squash were meltingly soft.

To make the sauce, I puréed one beet with all the squash in my 40-year-old blender with a little lemon juice for acidity, to make the sauce even more like tomato sauce, and to help the blender make the purée. I sautéed whole fennel seeds and minced garlic as usual, added the beet-squash sauce and my other usual pizza herbs and spices. I put the other two beets in the freezer (you can’t buy just one beet). The recipe is included in my The Sunny Side of Cooking solar cookbook.

It’s also possible to cook pizza sauce in a solar cooker.

See Part II here.

www.LisaRayner.com
www.amazon.com/author/lisarayner

Sourdough breads can be made faster than you think

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When people think “sourdough,” they think “slow.” While that can be true, and many home bakers retard sourdough in the refrigerator to develop more flavor, it’s also possible to whip up some dough in a few hours. I thought I was going to go out and run errands yesterday, but around 9:15 a.m. I decided I would rather work on projects at home. I had all the ingredients for making pizza for dinner, and homemade pizza is a staple food in this household. I took my sourdough starter out of the fridge, fed it, and placed the covered bowl in the sun to speed up the microorganisms’ metabolisms. Within a couple of hours, I had active, bubbly sourdough starter. I fed the starter a second time around 1:30 p.m. Just before 3 p.m., I rolled out the crust. I let it rise several hours and baked it after dark. Delicious as usual.

Wild Bread: Handbaked sourdough artisan breads in your own kitchen.

www.LisaRayner.com
www.amazon.com/author/lisarayner
www.etsy.com/shop/LifeweaverLLC

Nov. 14, 2015

Whole wheat sourdough focaccia with fresh apple chunks

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Whole wheat sourdough focaccia (foe-CAT-cha) with fresh apple chunks. After mixing in the fresh apple cubes I let the dough sit for 30 minutes before kneading it so that the flour would soak up excess moisture in the fruit; this step is necessary when adding fresh fruit to dough to maintain the proper hydration level. The focaccia was delicious. It didn’t last long.

Wild Bread: Handbaked sourdough artisan breads in your own kitchen.

www.LisaRayner.com
www.amazon.com/author/lisarayner