Bread


Sometimes I just want to eat something bad for me.  And I mean really, really bad for me.  Something that goes against all current notions of superfoods and gluten-free this and organic that.  Sometimes I just really want good old fashioned fat.  Yup, that’s right, I said fat.

If you ever have any hankerings like mine, this recipe is for you: a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich served on a mallorca pastry.  Think salty-sweet, kind of like a homemade McGriddle but a million times better and oozing with fat.  Mmmmm.

It first became my mission to make this sandwich at home after my boyfriend and I took a Caribbean cruise back in March.  We set sail from Puerto Rico and therefore spent a day before and after the cruise in San Juan.  Hearing tons of good things about La Bombanera, we decided to stop there for breakfast.  We were advised that we absolutely had to try a mallorca: a buttery yet sweet egg bread sprinkled with powdered sugar.  So, we did, and because we never go halfway in food matters, we also got breakfast sandwiches that used mallorcas as the bread.  Oh. My. Goodness.  The bread was so incredibly dense, rich, and sweet yet savory, and the eggs, bacon, and cheese made me feel guilty for enjoying such a rich treat.  We ate there again on the return trip and vowed to try to recreate the bread and sandwich at home. (more…)

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In keeping with my bread-making ambitions, this week I made whole wheat pita bread along with some hummus.  I haven’t really baked too much with whole wheat flour before, but I bought a bag a few weeks ago to try out some new bread recipes.  I must say, I absolutely love the texture and bite that it gives to these pita breads!  They are much more flavorful and fresher than store-bought whole wheat pita breads.  Granted, it took me almost three hours to make them- but the recipe made a lot (8 large pitas) which will mean I get to freeze some.

The hummus recipe is pretty basic, but it is the best I have ever made.  Ever.  I attribute it to using tahini, instead of just olive oil as I have previously done.  I think this is definitely a case where the cost of a bottle of tahini is worth it, especially considering it still cost me less to make this recipe than buying a container of hummus at the store.

Hummus (Epicurious)

Ingredients Cost
3 garlic cloves, minced and mashed with 1/2 tsp. salt $0.10
1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained $0.76
1/3 c. tahini, well-stirred $1.89
2 T. fresh lemon juice $0.79
2 T. olive oil pantry
1 tsp. cumin pantry
3 T. water
Total cost (4 servings) $3.54
Cost per serving $0.89

In a food processor blend together garlic paste, chickpeas, tahini, lemon juice, oil, and cumin, scraping down side, until smooth. Add water, salt and pepper to taste and pulse until just combined.

Whole Wheat Pita Bread (Epicurious)

Ingredients Cost
2 1/2 tsp. yeast $0.30
1 tsp. honey pantry
1 1/4 c. warm water pantry
2 c. flour pantry
1 c. whole wheat flour pantry
1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil pantry
1 tsp. salt pantry
Total cost (8 servings) $0.30
Cost per serving $0.04

Stir together yeast, honey, and 1/2 cup warm water in a large bowl, then let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. While yeast mixture stands, stir together flours in another bowl. Whisk 1/2 cup flour mixture into yeast mixture until smooth, then cover with plastic wrap and let stand in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled in bulk and bubbly, about 45 minutes. Stir in oil, salt, remaining 3/4 cup warm water, and remaining 2 1/2 cups flour mixture until a dough forms.

Turn out dough onto a floured surface and knead, working in just enough additional flour to keep dough from sticking, until dough is smooth and elastic, 8 to 10 minutes. Form dough into a ball and put in an oiled large bowl, turning to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let dough rise in draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Punch down dough and cut into 8 pieces. Form each piece into a ball. Flatten 1 ball, then roll out into a 6 1/2- to 7-inch round on floured surface with a floured rolling pin. Make 7 more rounds in same manner, arranging them on baking sheets. Loosely cover pitas with 2 clean kitchen towels (not terry cloth) and let stand at room temperature 30 minutes.

Set oven rack in lower third of oven and remove other racks. Preheat oven to 500°F.

Transfer 4 pitas, 1 at a time, directly onto oven rack. Bake until just puffed and pale golden, about 2 minutes. Turn over with tongs and bake 1 minute more. Cool pitas on a cooling rack.

During the snowstorm a few weeks ago, I was inspired to make pizza from scratch.  Unfortunately, everyone else must have had similar baking aspirations, because the only yeast available at the grocery store next to me was the giant container, not the individual packets.  Now that I am stuck with enough yeast to make bread to feed my entire neighborhood, I have been baking up a storm.  So, look for more bread recipes here in the coming weeks!

This pizza dough recipe is from my trusty Betty Crocker Cookbook, and it’s so good that I made it again this past week.  A time-saving tip is to make several batches of it, split it up into individual pizza portions, and freeze it.  Then, thaw it and roll it out when you’re too tired to do heavy-duty cooking.  For the pizzas here I kept the toppings basic with sauce, mozzarella, and pepperoni.  My favorite, however, is sauce, mozzarella, bacon, and pineapple.  Mmm…drooling a little just thinking about it 🙂

Ingredients Cost
2 1/2 to 3 c. all-purpose flour pantry
1 T. sugar pantry
1 tsp. salt pantry
1 package regular or quick active dry yeast (or 2 1/4 tsp.) $0.30
3 T. olive or vegetable oil pantry
1 c. very warm water (120 to 130 °F) pantry
1 T. shortening pantry
Toppings
Pizza sauce $1.50
Mozzarella cheese $2.50
Pepperoni $2.00
Total cost (4 servings) $6.30
Cost per serving $1.58

In a large bowl, mix 1 c. flour, sugar, salt, and yeast.  Add oil and warm water.  Beat with electric mixer on medium speed 3 minutes, scraping bowl frequently.  Stir in enough remaining flour until dough is soft and leaves sides of bowl.  Put dough on lightly floured surface.  Knead 5-8 minutes or until dough is smooth and springy.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest 30 minutes in a warm place.

Preheat oven to 375°F.  Divide dough in half, roll out each piece into a circle, and place on cookie sheets.  Add toppings and bake for 20-22 minutes or until crust begins to brown.