Last week I splurged and ordered a couple of things on-line I’ve been wanting for a while. And then I spent the entire week anxiously awaiting for the package to be delivered. Starting the day I placed the order, I began getting excited each time I checked the mail, anticipating the joy of finding my package delivered. And then finally, the day arrived. I squealed like a school girl.
My new cast iron pizza pan had arrived. And Pizza Night is forever changed on the homestead.
This cast iron bread pan ensures that bread making will never be the same.
Ignore the funky shape of the top of that bread. I let it rise in the refrigerator and a package of bacon fell over on it as it was rising. Stupid bacon.
And just look at these sandwich rolls.
I LOVE my new cast iron pans. I used to make pizza in a cast iron frying pan, and while it always turned out just fine, the pan wasn’t very large. The cast iron pizza pan makes a beautiful 14 inch pizza, with a wonderfully crisp crust. It also makes beautiful yeast rolls. And even though bread came out just fine when I used my tin baking pan, the cast iron bread pan makes the bread crust perfectly crisp while leaving the inside moist and soft. I found these at Camp Chef.
I am not a world class baker, by any stretch of the imagination. And maybe it’s all in my head, but I think using cast iron bakeware has given me some magical baking mojo. My pizza crust, bread, and rolls have never looked so beautiful.
I posted about using my new bakeware on Face Book, and my Blog Buddy, Lilla, (who is also my Face Book friend) asked for my recipes. I’m going to include them below for those of you who may be interested. We have fairly simple tastes around here, so these recipes are pretty basic.
By the way, I’d be tickled if you join me on Face Book. Just add me as a friend by clicking here, and include “Basic Living” in your request. You can also follow this blog and see updates in Face Book by clicking “Follow” here.
OK, let’s make some pizza dough now. This recipe makes enough dough for a 14 ” pizza pan. If you are using a regular sized cast iron skillet, you’ll want to cut this recipe in half.
1 1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
2/3 cup warm water
4 teaspoons active dry yeast
In a large bowl, measure the flour and add the salt. Mix it together.
In a small bowl, add the yeast, sugar and 2/3 cup WARM water. Make sure the water is not hot – just warm to the touch. I like to proof my yeast before adding it to the flour, so I let this stand for about 10 minutes or so. Just long enough for the yeast to start bubbling up. Proofing is not required and if you prefer not to do this, skip letting it stand.
Now, pour the yeast mixture into flour and mix it all together. I just use my hands to do this. For me, 1 1/2 cup flour is exactly what is needed. If yours is too sticky, add some more flour. If it’s too firm, add warm water a tablespoon at a time. And you don’t need to go all crazy with the mixing at this point. Just make sure all the flour you’ve added is incorporated into the dough.
Cover the bowl with your dough in it. I use a wet paper towel to cover the bowl. Now you want to let the dough rise to about double in size. I turn on my oven light and set the bowl in the oven. It usually takes about an hour to rise.
After it rises, punch the dough down, turn it out onto a well floured surface, and start kneading. You’ll want to incorporate flour as you go until the dough is no longer sticky as you knead. Once your dough is elastic and soft, you’re read to roll it out and place it in your greased pan – or just place it in your greased pan and shape it with your hands.
I like to bake my pizza dough for a few minutes before adding toppings so that the crust is a little crispier. I bake it at 450 degrees for 5 – 10 minutes, just long enough for the dough to begin browning. Then I remove it from the oven, add my toppings, and return it to the 450 degree oven for about 15 minutes. If the edge of the crust starts browning too quickly, I place some tin foil around the crust edge. When your cheese starts bubbling, your pizza is finished!
I make my own pizza sauce using the simplest method I could come up with. I don’t have an exact recipe, but I’ll give you the gist of it and you can adjust spices to your liking. I take about 1 pound of diced tomatoes (fresh or canned) and put it in a blender. Then I add a small can of tomato paste, about 1 teaspoon minced garlic, a little salt, a little sugar, and then sprinkle in some spices (oregano, basil, rosemary, thyme). And then I blend it all together until it’s smooth.
The most popular bread around here is plain ol’ white bread. This recipe will make enough for two loaves, or one loaf and some yeast rolls. NOTE: You do not have to use a cast iron bread pan for this recipe. Any bread pan will work just fine. This recipe is based on a 1970 something Better Homes and Gardens recipe.
5 3/4 – 6 1/2 cups all purpose flour
4 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 1/4 cups milk
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon lard or shortening
2 teaspoon salt
In a large bowl, mix only 2 1/2 cups of flour with the dry yeast.
In a sauce pan, combine the milk, sugar, lard, and salt and stir over LOW heat until the lard/shortening is melted.
Pour the milk mixture into the flour mixture. You need to mix this thoroughly, so there are no lumps. I find an electric beater on low speed works wonderfully for this. Once it is mixed well, I set the electric beater aside and then start adding the remaining flour and mixing it all by hand. You want to add enough flour to make a stiff dough that is not too dry. 6 1/2 cups flour works perfectly for me, but it seems everyone’s kitchen is different, so you may need to use a little less.
Turn the dough onto a floured surface and start kneading, adding flour until your dough is no longer sticky. You’re probably going to have to knead this for about 10 minutes. You want the dough to be soft and elastic.
Now, shape it into something resembling a ball and place it into a lightly greased bowl. Turn it over once to grease both sides. Cover the bowl and let it rise until double in size. Again, I use my oven with the light on and it takes 1 – 1 1/2 hours to rise.
Punch down the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough in half. If you are making two loaves of bread, shape each half into loaves and place them in greased bread pans. If you are making yeast rolls, use the other half of the dough to make small balls and place them on a greased baking pan. I like to make sandwich rolls, so I shape the dough into larger balls and then squish them flat when I place them in the baking pan. Whichever you chose, make the size of your balls half of what the finished product will end up being.
Let bread/rolls rise until double in size.
For bread, bake in a pre-heated 375 degree oven for about 45 minutes, or until done. If the top is browning too quickly, place tin foil over it when it’s as brown as you want it to get.
For yeast rolls, bake in a pre-heated 400 degree oven for 10 – 12 minutes, or until done.
There you have it – basic pizza and white bread dough recipes. Two of my many, simple pleasures.