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Judith Fertig is an award-winning and bestselling cookbook author, specializing in baking, barbecue, and the regional cuisine of the North American Heartland. Her food and lifestyle writing has appeared in The New York Times, The London Sunday Times, Bon Appetit, Food and Wine, Natural Awakenings, Better Homes and Gardens, Saveur, Fine Cooking, and Eating Well. Fertig has appeared on the Food Network and many TV and radio programs.

Yes, you can have wonderful, home-baked bread any day of the week.

Easy Bread will change the way you think about baking bread. Skip the traditional rounds of kneading and rising. With dough always ready to go, you’ll be serving up glorious, fresh-baked breads in no time! Award-winning cookbook author Judith Fertig shares her expertise with a simplified, step-by-step technique and clear, detailed recipes easy enough for even beginning bread bakers. Start with a simple French loaf or pizza dough and quickly advance to filled breads, bagels and flaky buttery croissants. Prepare delicious bread toppings and fillings, like artisan butter, cinnamon sugar and caramelized onions, ready for whenever a craving for sweet or savory strikes. Baking bread was never so easy — or so satisfying!

Pizza Blanca

Makes 1 pizza, to serve 4

This artisan-style pizza features simple toppings — olive oil, garlic and cheese — but can be customized with the toppings of your choice.  

 

Ingredients

  • 1⁄4 recipe prepared Easy Artisan Dough (recipe below), about the size of a softball
  • Unbleached all-purpose or bread flour 2 tbsp (25 mL) olive oil 1 clove garlic, minced 1⁄2 cup (125 mL) grated Asiago, Parmesan or Romano cheese 2 cups (500 mL) hot water  

 

Equipment

  • Rolling pin
  • 12-inch (30 cm) round perforated pizza pan
  • Broiler pan
  • Baking stone  

 

Method

Place dough on a floured surface and dust very lightly with flour. Flour your hands and the rolling pin. Working the dough as little as possible and adding flour as necessary, roll out the dough into a 12-inch (30 cm) circle. Lightly flour any sticky places on the dough as you roll. The dough should feel gently taut and smooth all over, but not at all sticky.

Drape the dough over the rolling pin and transfer to the prepared pan. Pat into place. Cover with a tea towel and let rest at room temperature for 40 minutes.

About 30 minutes before baking, place the broiler pan on the lower shelf and the baking stone on the middle shelf of the oven. Preheat to 450°F (230°C).

In a small, bowl, combine olive oil and garlic. Brush onto the dough and sprinkle with cheese.

Place the pizza pan on the hot stone. Pull the lower rack out, pour the hot water into the broiler pan, and push the lower rack back in place. Close the oven door immediately so the steam will envelop the oven.

Bake for 15 minutes or until the edges of the crust and the cheese have both browned.

 

Tip

This type of thin-crust pizza is not meant for heavy sauce, cheese and meat toppings. Instead, use toppings that add bold flavor without bulk, such as thinly sliced onion, prosciutto or crisp-cooked pancetta, grated aged cheeses, chèvre, feta or blue cheese crumbles, olives, pesto, roasted red pepper, cooked Italian sausage crumbles, thinly sliced mushrooms, fresh herbs, fresh tomatoes, oil-packed sun dried tomatoes, thin asparagus stalks or arugula.

Easy Artisan Dough

Makes enough dough for bread, rolls, pizza or flatbread to serve 12 to 16

This first master recipe introduces you to the basics of this easy artisan bread method. As you begin to make bread, all of this will get even easier. You won’t have to check the temperature of the water, as you’ll know what lukewarm feels like. You’ll get quite good at forming the various types of loaves and sliding them onto the hot baking stone. You’ll be able to tell, by how fast the temperature rises on the instant-read thermometer, when your bread reaches 190°F (90°C) and is done. Your artisan loaves will have a crisp, darkened crust, a tender, moist crumb and a mellow, toasty flavor — all with this easy method. The dough will also make delicious rolls, pizza or flatbread.  

 

Ingredients

  • 61⁄2 cups (1.625 L) unbleached all-purpose or bread flour
  • 11⁄2 tbsp (22 mL) instant or bread machine yeast 11⁄2 tbsp (22 mL) fine table or kosher salt 3 cups (750 mL) lukewarm water (about 100°F/38°C)

 

Equipment

  • Instant-read thermometer
  • 16-cup (4 L) mixing bowl
  • Wooden spoon or Danish dough whisk

Method

Spoon the flour into a measuring cup, level with a knife or your finger, then dump the flour into the mixing bowl.

Add the yeast and salt to the flour. Stir together with a wooden spoon or Danish dough whisk. Pour in the water and stir together until just moistened. Beat 40 strokes, scraping the bottom and the sides of the bowl, until the dough forms a lumpy, sticky mass.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature (72°F/22°C) in a draft-free place for 2 hours or until the dough has risen nearly to the top of the bowl and has a sponge-like appearance.

Use that day or place the dough, covered with plastic wrap, in the refrigerator for up to 9 days before baking.

 

Tips

Combining 11⁄2 cups (375 mL) hot with 11⁄2 cups (375 mL) cold tap water will result in lukewarm water of approximately 100°F (38°C).

Before storing the dough in the refrigerator, use a permanent marker to write the date on the plastic wrap, so you’ll know when you made your dough — and when to use it up 9 days later


Courtesy of Easy Bread by Judith Fertig © 2021 www.robertrose.ca Reprinted with permission. Available where books are sold.

 Image credit: André Noël and Getty Images

Megan Brush

mbrush@robertrose.ca


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