So, remember awhile ago I mentioned a new-found obsession with my grandmother’s handed down bread machine? And I promised I’d be back to tell you about it? Yeah, this is that.
In recent months, I’ve realized I’m a bit of a kitchen appliance hoarDER (emphasis on the DER please!). We have everything from the George Foreman grill to an iced tea maker (and two coffee pots: our coffee/espresso maker and the Keurig), to a Kitchen Aid mixer to an automatic wine chiller to a waffle iron…and, most recently, an ice cream maker. Mmmm, the ice cream maker. More on that another day.
For now, though, the bread machine. In the Merrow house, we are carb addicts, every last one of us. We love bread, white rice, pasta, pizza…everything that we know we shouldn’t have. We live in sin here. And we love every second of it. Take, for example, French bread. I discovered this while my sister was visiting us over the summer on a night when I needed a starchy side to serve with our dinner. Many of my recipes come from Google: I type in a method of preparing the food (in this case, bread machine French bread), then I just surf for the recipe that matches the ingredients I have on hand. Or I combine a couple of different recipes to tailor something to what I have in mind. The French bread recipe turned out to be four ingredients. Four. And one of the four ingredients is water. (the other three: flour, salt, yeast.) Everything goes into the bowl of the machine, and one hour and twenty minutes later… POOF! It’s bread. Well, it’s bread dough. But, it’s not like there’s much work involved in dumping a ball of dough onto the counter, cutting it in half, shaping it into two loaves, and letting it rise under a towel for another hour. In fact, the day we first initiated this recipe, Peanut and I were poolside for the entire process. Look what this miraculously materializes in this marvelous machine with nothing more than 1 1/4 cups of water, 3 1/2 cups of flour (I like Gold Medal better for bread flour for this), a teaspoon of salt, and a package of yeast:
It really is that easy. And see how quickly a whole loaf disappears as soon as the pan comes out of the oven? I have an addiction to this bread, piping hot from the oven, dipped in olive oil and some bread dipping seasonings. Seriously, I could eat a whole loaf. Except that I’m too ladylike for that. (snort).
We’ve also been making lots of homemade pizza lately. Growing up, every Friday night at our house was pizza night. (Actually, it still is. That’s the one night of every week that my mom doesn’t have to hear 6 different versions of “Maaaahhhhhmmmmm…whaaatttt’s for suuuuupperrrrrrrr?” I’ve rather grown to appreciate the same absence of questioning one night a week). Anyway, we have adapted the same tradition into our family. Some Fridays we order out, sometimes we go out, and sometimes I make our pizza from scratch, but that’s it. If I’m cooking on a Friday night, you can bet it’s going to be pizza. For the dough, same basic rules apply, plus two ingredients: 3/4 cup water, 2 Tbsp oil, 2 cups bread flour, 1 tsp each sugar and salt, and a package of yeast. Dump it all in, push start, walk away, and when you return, the dough is ready to be shaped and made into whatever kind of pizza your heart desires. We like buffalo wing pizza (I toss leftover chicken in some hot wing sauce, slather the dough with ranch dressing, and top with cheese); pierogie pizza (which is a great way to use leftover mashed potatoes- or you can make them fresh, then just sprinkle with finely chopped onion and cheddar cheese); white pizza (olive oil, tons of garlic, some tomato if you want, and Italian blend cheese) or just a plain old pepperoni pie. We always do two pizzas, even for the three of us, because then we always have leftovers. Typically, I’ll do one pepperoni, one “special,” for variety. We’re carb addicts, remember? Pizza for breakfast is the Golden Rule of a carb addict.
Anyway, then I split the second dough into two, make half the dough into a “medium-sized” pizza, and bake the other half in a small, shallow baking pan topped with olive oil, garlic salt, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, and grated Parmesan. Breadsticks! I’ve also frozen it for a week or so and then defrosted it before I was ready to use it. And in recent weeks, I’ve learned that making the dough a day ahead and storing it in the fridge makes the dough much more airy and fluffy. Sort of like clouds from heaven, in your mouth. If you will. Ahem. Moving on…
So, with the Super Bowl looming on the horizon, I thought I’d share my new-found knowledge of dough from a machine. Because pizza with football is kind of like a glass of wine with guilty pleasure TV. Sure, you can have it without, but it’s just So. Damn. Much. Better. with it.