Pizza Dough

Pizza dough has to be one of the most difficult breads to master. I know I struggled with them for a really long time. But making your own pizza dough opens up so many doors when it comes to creating your own pizzas at home. For instance, you can create dessert pizzas, grill the pizza bread, or even invest in a pizza baking stone for your oven to make a super crispy crust. You can make really thin crust, thick pan pizza crust, or get really adventurous and make a deep dish pizza.

Pizza is just one of those meals that are so versatile, and learning to make your own creates so many more options. Once you’ve mastered the dough, you’re pizza options will be limitless. Good luck, and enjoy!

Ingredients:

2 packets of active dry yeast
1 3/4 cups warm water
5 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp. salt
3 tbsp. olive oil

Directions:

In a small bowl, combine the yeast and warm water. You want the water to be between 106 and 115 degrees for best results. Stir the water well, and let it sit for about 8-10 minutes. It should be foamy, and if it’s not, something is wrong, and you need to try again.

Then, in a mixer, combine the yeast water, flour, salt, and olive oil. Use your single spiral mixer attachment for best results. Some hand mixers also have this attachment, but don’t try to use beaters. If you don’t have a mixer, you’ll have to do it by hand. It will be a bit of work, but be patient. Let the mixer run for about ten minutes. The dough should be completely incorporated, and it shouldn’t be sticking to the sides. If your dough is sticking, add a bit more flour. If there is still flour visible, add a few tablespoons of water, and continue to mix.

Once mixed properly, pull it out, and knead it for another two to three minutes with your hands. Then, place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover it with plastic wrap or a damp cloth. Allow it to rise for about 30 minutes. I like to place mine next to my preheating oven so make sure that it’s in a warm enough environment.

Then, pull out your dough and cut it into two pieces. Roll it out a bit, then let it rest for another ten minutes. Be sure that you cover it with a damp cloth.

Use a rolling pin to roll your dough out to the desired thickness. Add your toppings, and put it into a 450 degree oven for about ten minutes. The crust should be nice and brown.

Cut into slices, and eat up!

Zucchini Bread

With fall coming, vegetable filled breads are becoming very popular. Things like pumpkin, carrot, and zucchini are all being baked into delicious loaves, and the added cinnamon, cloves, or all spice make your whole house smell amazing.

I have a special place in my heart for zucchini bread. It definitely reminds me of home during the fall. We always had a loaf or batch of muffins during that time of year, and I loved grabbing some on my way to school for an easy breakfast. I also like the idea of adding a little nutrition to cake. Like, if it’s healthy, I can completely justify eating it for an entire meal, and I can just wash it all down with some cold milk. Yum!

So add a little health to your cake, and enjoy!

Autumn Zucchini Bread

Ingredients:

1 cup grated zucchini
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup walnuts (optional)

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degree, and grease your bread pans.

To grate the zucchini, be sure to use the smallest holes on your grater, and keep the skin on. It will add some color and texture to your bread.

Using a mixer, beat together the zucchini, vegetable oil, sugar, and eggs. Then add the vanilla, and mix thoroughly. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. You want them to be mixed really well.

Slowly add your flour mixture to the zucchini mixture. You want to mix it just until it is combined. If you over mix, you could end up with a tough bread, which won’t be that great. Pour the batter into your bread pan. If you would like, top the batter with the walnuts. You can also use pecans or other similar nuts if you prefer.

If you’re making loaves, it should take 55-60 minutes. Test with a toothpick to be sure. However, if you’re baking in a muffin pan, it should take between 18-22 minutes. Again, you can test with a toothpick to see if they’re done.

Let cool on a wire rack.

For later eating, add a little butter to the top of the bread, and microwave for about 25 seconds. It will be the best thing you eat all day!

Enjoy!

French Bread

In my opinion, a pasta sauce is only as good as the bread used to dip in it. And, while the grocery store often has some really great bread in the bakery, I really love spending my morning making fresh bread loaves. It’s so relaxing to knead the dough, and there is nothing quite like the smell that takes over your house while it’s baking.

I actually just recently started making breads, so I won’t claim to be an expert. However, I do have a fool proof recipe that even beginners can complete pretty easily. It creates long loaves of bread, and it is super gooey, with a really great crust. Add a little butter, dip it in some sauce, or even eat it plain. It’s delicious… I promise!

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups warm water
1 packet active dry yeast
1 1/2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp salt
3 1/2 cups flour

In a large bowl, mix the water and yeast until it becomes foamy. Then add the honey, oil, and salt. Mix well. Finally, add your flour. It should become a very thick batter. Pour it out onto a floured surface and knead the dough. If the dough is too sticky, add more flour until it no longer sticks to your hands or surfaces. Knead for about 8-10 minutes. Place the dough in a lightly oiled, large bowl. Swirl the dough around to coat it in the oil. Place plastic wrap or a damp cloth over the bowl to prevent any stale crusts that might form on your dough.

Allow the dough to rise for an hour.

Pull out the dough, and cut it into two pieces. Form the pieces into long, baguette shaped pieces. Place on a cookie sheet, and allow it to rise for another 45 minutes. Then, using a serrated knife, cut diagonal slices into bread, about 1/4 inch deep. Bake at 400 degree for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown. For a crispier crust, brush an egg wash over the tops of the loaves.

Enjoy!

Soft Pretzels

My husband loves going to the movie theater for one reason: the soft pretzels. When we were first married, we used to go to the movies all the time. It got to the point that the people who worked at the concession stand would recognize him and start getting his pretzels ready.

However, since we’ve had a child, we haven’t really been to the movies. It’s just too hard to try to keep a toddler quiet and sitting still for such a long time. Plus, my kid doesn’t really like watching a screen, even if it is cartoons, so she isn’t very interested in the whole experience.

So I thought I’d bring a little bit of the theater to him. I tried several recipes, and I altered them to match my husband’s preferences. My recipe is super soft, with a slightly crispy crust. I like to add salt on top, too. They come out super fluffy, and they kind of lose their holes because the dough gets so thick. They are amazing, though. For a really awesome snack, dip them in mustard, nacho cheese, or even peanut butter!

Movie Theater Soft Pretzels

Ingredients:

1 packet active dry yeast
1 tsp white sugar
3/4 cup warm water
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup white sugar
2 tsp salt
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup baking soda
4 cups hot water
Salt for topping

Directions:

Preheat the over to 325 degrees. Use non-stick spray on a cookie sheet and set aside.

In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast and teaspoon of sugar in the warm water. It should look a little foamy.

Then, in a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt. Add the vegetable oil and yeast mixture, and combine the ingredients thoroughly. Sprinkle a little extra flour on a flat surface, and knead the dough. It should take about 8-10 minutes to make sure the dough is well-incorporated and has a smooth texture. Spray some non-stick spray in a large, clean bowl, and set your dough inside to rise. Covering the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp cloth towel can help keep your dough from forming a stale crust on the outside. Let the dough rise for about an hour.

Once your dough has risen, put it on a flat surface and cut into about 8 pieces. Mix the baking soda into the hot water, and keep it close by. Roll each piece into a long rope (about 10 inches long), and form it into a pretzel shape. Dip it into the baking soda mixture, making sure that you soak it well (about three seconds). Then, place it on the pan. Add salt if you prefer. Once you have all your pretzels shaped and dipped, put them in the oven. Bake for about 8-10 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.

Enjoy!

Pumpkin Bread

With the fall season coming up, it’s only fitting to share something that’s “pumpkin” flavored. Autumn brings pumpkin everything along with it, and I, for one, am so excited to have that scent filling my home. It makes everything seem so cozy and welcoming, and I always splurge on extra pumpkin spice or cinnamon candles during the holiday season. They are my favorite!

This is definitely a high-altitude recipe, and I’ve made it more times than I can count. It took me several tries to get it right. I find that the bread turns out much more moist if you make it in small loafs or even in a cupcake pan. However, making a single, large loaf can turn out well. Just keep an eye on it so that it doesn’t over cook and dry out.

I hope you enjoy!

Autumn Pumpkin Bread

Ingredients:

3/4 cups vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3/4 tsp. nutmeg
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 (15 oz) cans of pumpkin puree
3 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda

Directions:

First, preheat the oven to 375 degrees and grease the pan you would like to use.

In a large bowl, combine oil, eggs, sugars, and salt. Beat with an electric mixer until fluffy. Then add the nutmeg, cinnamon, pumpkin puree, and vanilla. Mix thoroughly. Set aside.

In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Be sure that the ingredients are mixed very well. Then, add the flour mixture into the pumpkin mixture. Using your electric mixer, combine the ingredients. Pour your batter into the desired baking dish, and put in the oven. For large loafs, bake for 60 minutes. Cupcake-sized tins should bake for 25-30 minutes.

To check the doneness of the bread, put a toothpick into the center of the loaf. If it comes out clean, then it’s ready. If you don’t have a toothpick, simply touch the top of the loaf. If the center dents, then rises back to it’s original shape, the bread is done.

Cool on a wire rack and store in the refrigerator.

When serving, nuke it in the microwave for about 20 seconds and spread with a little honey butter. Enjoy!