Multi-purposed, Basic Bread DoughIn a large NON METAL bowl (or crock), mix:2 cups whole wheat flour or unbleached, all purpose flour
(or a mix of each)2 cups liquid
[water, kefir, combination of both]2 teaspoon of Instant SAF yeast
or one little packet (the kind that comes in three little sections) of any good quality yeast for bread making
Stir together with plastic or wood spoon. It will look 'soupy' soft, almost like a lumpy, thick cake batter. This is your 'starter
Cover bowl/crock with a clean, wet and then rung out, dish towel and set on a cookie sheet and set this in your oven and turn on the light. If you have a gas oven with a ‘pilot’ that keeps it warm, then no need for turning on your oven light.
You can make this up in morning, leave to sit for a minimum of 2 hours (3-4 preferable) or as long as until the next morning! (longer soaks are good if using fresh ground whole wheat flour)
If you can’t fit it in your oven, then just keep it in a fairly warm place and away from drafts (the damp cloth helps keep it ‘soft’ and draft free).
The longer it sits, the more 'sourdough' flavor it gets. I would not recommend leaving it longer than 48 hours, or it might get TOO sour! If you run into a problem, and can't make up the dough the next day, add two more cups of flour and two more cups of water, mix, and it will keep until the following day (it just needs something to 'eat' and convert while you are away). A 'brownish liquidy layer' on top, if soaked a long time is fine, stir it back into the starter. This adds to the sour taste.2-24 hours later...SO, to your initial starter, add:1 stick of cooled, melted butterOR1/2 cup melted coconut oil or olive or grapeseed oil
(warm is ok, but not hot)2 teaspoons sea salt
Stir with a wooden (my favorite) or plastic spoon (no metal, it kills yeast) until the very fluffy 'spongey' mixture shrinks a bit and looks coated.You will need about 4-6 more cups of flour.
[*Since you just soaked the whole wheat to fully hydrate it, increase nutritional value and de-activate any potential 'irritants' and digestive inhibitors, any additional flour will not be able to ‘soak’ like your sponge…so really, it’s almost a BETTER choice to use unbleached all purpose flour for this part.]
I slowly add in a cup of flour at a time, stirring after each addition until it starts getting HARD to stir/mix. You will probably find that at, or near, 3 cups of additional flour, you will NOT feel like stirring this anymore!
At this point, I sprinkle about a cup of the all purpose flour on a CLEAN counter or wood cutting board.
I pour the dough onto the center and lightly knead it with the board flour, adding more if necessary, to form a fairly smooth (non sticky) mass.
It will be soft still, and if you formed a ball, it would ‘melt’ back into a flatter shape pretty quickly at this point.
I do NOT spend a lot of time here, maybe 5 minutes (I actually try to just get it kinda smooth and not sticky…I’m NOT trying to develop a lot of gluten here…).
Now, this very
versatile dough can be made into bread loaves or made into small ‘dough ball’ portions that you can refrigerate and use as ‘quick’ pizza crusts or calzone dough.FOR BREAD:
I sometimes will take the entire mass, flatten it out, then roll it up like a ‘log’.
I lightly grease a large baking sheet with coconut oil, and place this ‘log’ on it.
I make a few slashes on the top, and brush with some melted butter or coconut oil.
I cover it with a damp cloth and let it ‘poof’ a bit in a warm place (anywhere from only 15 min to 30 min, depending on kitchen warmth). I then bake it at 400 deg F for ~ 26-28 minutes.
I let it cool on the pan a bit, then remove to a wire mesh rack to set… If we’re starving, I sometimes only let it cool until I can ‘cut’ it. I use a bread knife to get ‘clean’ cuts and they do not collapse. It’s usually moist, but not wet..and has a wonderful texture. Once it’s lost all it’s heat, I wrap in a plastic bag and leave on the counter. I’ve kept a loaf for up to a week. If it does get a bit ‘stale’…you can toast slices and it refreshes wonderfully!
If you want regular loaves, you can separate the dough into balls the size of ‘softballs’ and place in a greased ‘bread pan’. Let rise same way, then bake at 400 deg F for approximately 28 minutes.
You might need to go to 30 min, depending on your pans and how ‘wet’ your dough is. It’s a ‘gotta do it a few times’ kind of thing.FOR PIZZA REFRIGERATOR ROUNDS:
I cut the dough into 'baseball' size chunks, roll them into balls, coat in olive or grapeseed oil and put in plastic ‘bread’ baggies. Leave some room in the baggies for 'expansion', and LOOSELY tie with a twist tie, or leave 1/2 inch open if using 'zip lock' type bags. I put all that I won't use immediately into the refrigerator. You are DONE. You can use some of the dough immediately to make pizza or wait a few days!
These dough balls will keep at LEAST for a week, and I've gone into the next week with no problems, especially if you are using a low rise recipe, like pizza crust.
Just take out a bag or two to 'warm' while you are mixing up sauce and preparing toppings.
Preheat your oven and then sprinkle some flour on counter or a wood board, flatten the dough with finger tips, making it into a circle (thick or thin, depending on taste).
Occasionally flip your flattened circle in the flour to keep it from being too sticky. Just roll it out enough to start you basic shape, you can flatten it out more once you put it on the pan or pizza peel.There are two good ways to proceed into making pizza now:Pizza 'Peel' Method:
If you are using a 'pizza peel' and a pizza stone, you can set your oven to 500 degrees F and it will bake in about 8-11 minutes! Make sure your pizza stone is in the oven while heating, so it's HOT! This is my favorite way to do pizza.
Sprinkle some white flour on a pizza peel. Put the flattened dough circle on center of peel and flatten out some more, almost to edges of peel.
Make sure you don't make a bigger circle than your stone is. Add a few tablespoons sauce (tomato sauce with some garlic salt, basil or oregano is fine pizza sauce), toppings (ALWAYS
use pre-cooked meats) I use left over chicken, beef, or pepperonis, shredded cheese of choice (chedder makes a different, but delicious topping).
Shake the peel a little bit back and forth, while holding horizontally, to make sure the pizza isn't sticking.
You want to be able to slowly 'slide' it off onto the hot stone while it's still in the oven. You can lift up an edge of the dough and sprinkle a bit more flour if you find it's sticking at all.
Then hold the peel over the stone, with front edge of the peel touching the stone; make sure you start 'sliding' the pizza off near the BACK of the stone, so you have room for your pizza! Start making tiny back and forth 'sliding motions' with the peel, and the pizza should slide off onto the stone pretty easily.
Move the peel slowly towards you, the whole time making these 'back and forth', kinda jerky motions. With practice, you can slide a 'raw' pizza off onto a stone in about 30 seconds.It's worth learning how to do this!
The pizza will puff and start browning FAST with this method. Peek at around 8 minutes, and keep a close eye on it for next few minutes. I find anywhere between 8-11 minutes is just right, depending on how heavily I topped the pizza.
You can slide the peel under the baked pizza very easily and remove it. Let cool a minute, then cut with a round 'pizza roller' cutter. These pizzas will be smaller sized and make great ‘individual’ pizzas if you have picky eaters that only like certain things on their ‘own’ pizza.Cookie Sheet Pizza:
If you are using a regular 'cookie sheet' to make your pizza on, preheat oven to 400 degrees F, and it will take about 15-20 minutes to bake your pizza.
Again, take flattened pizza circle, and sprinkle some flour on a 'cookie sheet'. Press dough out until it's as thin or tink as you like. I then add sauce, toppings, and shredded cheese. Place in preheated oven and start watching it closely at about 15 minutes. Depending on how thick or thin you made your crust, it might take up to 20 minutes. Remove when golden brown. The dough might be 'softer' and not as 'pizzaria' crisp with this method, but it's still great tasting. Let cool for a minute or two and cut into slices.