27 August 2012

33 Variations on a Pizza...sort of.

I've been working on a personal project for several weeks now, which is why I've barely posted anything this last half of summer -- the project took me until this morning to finally wrap up. It's not something sewing related, nor is it something I can take pictures of (let's play 20 questions, come on now!) but maybe in the future I'll post more about it.

A real master of suspense, I am.

Anyway, I didn't run straight to my sewing machine as I was finishing up The Project, but I did find time to do a little baking.

It's a vague approximation of pizza, since I had no cheese on hand, and ditto for mushrooms, bell peppers, and ground beef. What I did have were tomatoes, lots of them, and the ingredients for pizza sauce. And a starter-based baguette dough.

I'd originally planned to make 3 baguettes out of the dough but, like at most places, at our house pizza trumps all other forms of bread. At a given time I'll be kneading some dough for burger buns or a tomato-stuffed white bread, when someone will pass by the counter and see the metal bowl.

"Oh, is that pizza you're making?" they'll ask, just a little too loudly. And then a call from one of the bedrooms -- "Pizza?" -- followed by a cry of "Pizza!" from the balcony, and then another from somewhere near the storage room.

"Pizza, pizza, pizza," comes a small voice from under the floorboards.

I guess what I'm trying to say here is that those three baguettes never had a chance.

I did end up making one baguette, though, and I have to say I'm glad most of it went to the cheeseless "pizza" instead -- the bread wasn't bad, but it was a little too bland by itself. I used a King Arthur Flour recipe that I struggled with the first time, too.

Usually I love KAF's recipes, and the strawberry turnovers I made a while back used their rough puff pastry, but I think this recipe might be a little too advanced for me. Because the dough's very wet it's hard to get the hydration right, and there's three consecutive rises, which also leaves a lot of room for error. I ended up with a slightly tough crumb, and a very tough crust.

It was nice and charred, though, and it was pretty airy. I finished off the last bit with butter and a fried egg yolk, and the butter seeped nicely into it. And compared to the first "baguette" I made, almost two years ago (below), it's a lot closer to the real thing. Of course, when I made that bread (the one below) I was incredibly proud of it, compared with my tepid reaction yesterday. I guess that's how things roll.

My first baguette attempt, circa fall 2010 

I've also been working a bit on my skirt -- the pieces are cut from a silk fabric, and I've started pinning them. I'll post more on that later. Oh, and here's a very good link for a Middle Eastern style garlic sauce (the kind they put on shawarmas) that I used as a dip for my cheeseless pizza yesterday. It's light and very creamy, and the garlic went well with the tomatoes and bread.

Yes, that's my measuring tape for fabric.
Don't want my sewing equipment to feel left out, after all.

As an endnote, here's some tips if you're in the mood for something pizza-like (aren't we all, almost always?) but aren't using cheese, either for health reasons or because it's not on hand:

  • Use a very good crust recipe. My personal favourite is Jay's Signature Pizza Crust from Allrecipes, and if I have time I let it rise overnight or from morning to evening in the fridge, to get a stronger yeast taste.
  • Think of it as a snack rather than a full-out meal.
  • This means using lighter toppings like vegetables -- peppers, mushrooms, onions, and tomatoes are good traditional options.
  • Also, even if you're a fan of chewy crusts, flatten a cheeseless one out a little thinner. Not super-thin, 1 cm thick should be fine, but a heavier crust will seem too heavy without gooey cheese heaped on top.
  • Experiment with different sauces -- I stick with tomato, but I've heard of hummus being used, which sounds great.
  • Cut it into narrow wedges rather than slices, and prepare a dipping sauce -- something different from the sauce you used on the pizza crust. For example, I used a garlic sauce since my crust was tomato-heavy.
And now I'm headed back to the sewing room! Finally!


  1. Pizza........I love it and I hate it. I have been eating cheeseless pizza for years. It is a lot lighter than with cheese and so you don't feel gross afterwards. ALso, many pizza places will give free toppings in place of the cheese. When ordering out, I load the pizza with veggies. Thanks for the recipe. I;ve been baking all week long, I will try it today. ANd if you are looking for a wonderful treat try Chocolate Covered Katie's healthy vanilla frosty (just google it) and live with the gross ingredients - this thing tastes just like the real thing with fewer calories and lots of protein.

    1. Nice, we've been improvising with our milkshakes recently, I'll have to check that one out, thanks :). Happy baking!

    2. I used Jay's Signature pizza crust and have been making pizza for the last several weekends! All thanks to you! I plan to try the garlic sauce this weekend...

    3. Haha, great! I'm glad the link was useful. Good luck with the garlic sauce.