Pizza Napoletana

16-_Pizza_Nap-HeaderPizza! A regular treat for most North Americans, whether by the slice at the authentic Italian place or delivered from the mega chain outlet. Peter Reinhart gives us, for bread number 25 in The Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge, his version of Pizza Napoletana which he describes as a thin crust with, preferably less ingredients so that the bread experience is not overwhelmed by gargantuous amounts of toppings. “Keep it simple” is the motto here. A simple sauce, two or three cheeses, maybe a little pesto smeared on the dough or perhaps a white sauce and some fine herbs, crowned with one or two high quality toppings and you’re good to go.

Our standard Pizza Night order is tomato sauce, cheese (some mid-quality commercial mozzarella is what they put on), mushrooms, black olives (or sometimes onions) finishing with pepperoni (right half) and Italian sausage (left half). We deviate a little now and again but this is our “usual”. So I figure for this home-made pizza I’d do a little switch-up and try something new.

But before we can get to that part, of course, we need to prepare the dough for the pizza shell. Since this dough is noted as best chilled overnight, I have time to get to the store tomorrow and see what ingredients might inspire for toppings.

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Pain de Campagne

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Pain Campagne (Country Bread) is recipe number  22 in The Bread Baker’s Apprentice and we’re now past the halfway mark in the full 43-recipe BBA Challenge.

Despite the disappointment of the previous bread, Pain a l’Ancienne, I was looking forward to making this one because it involved some fancy cuttin’ and shapin’ and the techiques we’d learn about here were more on the presentation. The bread itsef still looked interesting. And I’ll say right away that this one did not come out badly.

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Pain a l’Ancienne or Giant Grissini?

67-PainAncIntroThis one was not so good. So I won’t spend a lot of time on the details.  Suffice it to say there were enough problems with the finished product and the process that it’s not a type of bread I’d be open to revisiting any tine soon.

So, as always, a quick look at the mis en place…

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Le Pain Français du #BBA

FrenchBBA-SneakPicBonjour et salut à tous! La recette d’aujourd’hui est un pain français du livre «The Bread Baker’s Apprentice» par le boulanger célèbre, Monsieur Peter Reinhart.

And that’s all the French I’ll force you to suffer through for now. So yes, today is French Bread day in the BBA Challenge and dare I say, “it’s about time!”. Not because the other breads so far have been bad but because I’ve rather been looking forward to this one for a while.

Although my extended stay in Paris was a couple decades back, one of the very best things (although there were many) was being able to get up in the morning, go around the corner this way or down the street a bit that way, and hit a bakery to pick up a still warm fresh baguette, perhaps some almond croissants, then head back to the apartment and consume it with some strawberry jam and crème fraîche (yum!! Rather like Devonshire cream) along with a hot cup of coffee while looking out onto the bustle of Boulevard de Rochechouart.

This experience is simply not doable back here in North America as there aren’t bakeries in almost any neigbourhood and even when there happens to be one, it’s simply not a habit here to get bread for the meal and expect to go out again next time for the next loaf, warm off the shelf. No, we may pick up a loaf at the local grocery store that we don’t expect to get into for hours if not days, the quality simply isn’t the same in these factory-produced breads.

So getting to this particular loaf is giving me hope of getting a little bit of that ‘plaisir’ back, and maybe reliving a little bit of that Paris experience. You can probably tell I haven’t made this yet (I write the blog up halfway while waiting for things to proof or bake) so I don’t know how it will turn out.

Let’s get going and see, non?

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Focaccia!

Welcome back, dedicated followers, first timers and anyone else who’s just stumbling on this little blog! Today’s post is going to look at my first time try at Focaccia, The Bread Baker’s Apprentice Challenge recipe, where a whole whack of people are systematically going through each recipe in Peter Reinhart’s book as a personal challenge and to try out lots of recipes they may not ever have attempted otherwise.

With summer being half over already, we’re now at recipe #13 out of 43 total. Those who are keeping track of such things may note I’ve hopped over a couple of recipes in the list, particularly the last one which was English Muffins. The only reason I skipped that one is that I had a bunch of extra starter (“excess” starter I’d actually been feeding) and I wanted to use it up. I happen to come across Mike Avery’s English Muffin Loaf recipe which uses Sourdough, so I made two loaves of that. Totally didn’t click English Muffins was one of the next Challenges. They were similar, so I’ll just assume my batch counts. You can read that officially non #BBA post here.

Anyway… enough of that, let’s look at Focaccia. This is a very simple bread, based on number of ingredients:

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A short list of ingredients for this one! Continue reading “Focaccia!”