To satisfy my addiction for pasta machines/devices, I broke down and bought a Torchio manual pasta press. I have been drooling over this little machine for a few months and I now have it in my possession. The dies are pretty expensive but you can create all of your favorite pastas and its great to show off when you have company over. With the proper pasta dough you should not have any problems with this device, on the other hand, if your dough is too soft it will extrude improperly. You can buy a Torchio through Pastabiz.com
Focaccia was one of the first breads that made me realize that I love to make bread. It is a very yeasty and olive oil drenched dough; the smell alone was enough to give me weak knees. I realized, shortly after, that the smell of all fresh doughs excited me. I enjoy making and working with dough more than I like to eat it, unfortunately I battle with standard kitchen ovens more than pizza and bread ovens, or even a combi-oven which also makes an incredible loaf of bread. After reading about the hand full of tricks to turning your oven into a good bread baking oven, I feel that the best way to bake an artisan loaf of bread is in a cast iron pot with a lid. It holds in the moisture coming off the dough and it creates and even heating environment inside.
1.5C Warm water
1C Sourdough starter
1/4C Olive Oil
1# 2oz Flour
2ea Rosemary stems (cleaned)
- Combine yeast, water, starter, and sugar. Allow the yeast to “bloom” for 10 minutes.
- Add oil, rosemary, and flour, mix by hand until the dough comes together.
- Add salt and mix until incorporated.
- Place the dough in a mixer and mix until the gluten have developed, about 7 minutes. You may need a little extra flour during the first couple minutes of mixing.
- Turn the dough out onto a work surface and knead to form a ball.
- Cover and let double in size, this should take no more than 20 minutes in a warm area.
- Oil your baking tray and dock the dough down with your fingers, try not to stretch the dough, and let the dough rest a few minutes in between docking. You want the dough to be about an inch thick.
- Bake at 350°F until done. To check for doneness, quickly tap the underside of the tray with your finger, you will be listening for a hollow sound.
Since my recent explorations into black garlic, I figured that I would make a loaf of black garlic focaccia, and since I didn’t pay $26 a pound for it, it was a good venture. For the black garlic focaccia I omitted the rosemary, which you could probably keep, and added four cloves of black garlic, which I smashed with my knife. For this batch, I made my focaccia dough a little wetter than normal and treated it like a ciabatta when it cames to working the gluten. This also allowed for the yeast to develop more and gives you a tastier loaf of bread.
Follow the first three steps from above then knead as follows:
- Place the dough in a bowl and let sit covered with plastic in a warm area for 30 minutes.
- Fold the dough over itself after 30 minutes, cover and let set for an additional 60 minutes.
- Repeat the previous step, except this time, let the dough rest for 1 hour.
- Flour your hands, your work surface, and the dough, this next step gets a little messy. Roll the dough out onto your workstation and fold it similar to ciabatta.
- Oil your baking tray and place the focaccia on the tray, seam side down, and dock the same as above.
- Drizzle with oil and let double; this takes about eight minutes.
- Sprinkle with sea salt or kosher salt.
- Bake at 350°F until done.
I have never been a big fan of pies but I have always loved the crust. This is a great recipe that will yield you a rich and flaky crust that is perfect for pies and quiche. For savory purposes I would add some thyme and parsley when sanding the butter into the flour.
1/2C + 2T Pastry Flour
1/2C + 2T AP Flour
1/4C Cold water
- Cube or grate the butter, if using grated place in the freezer until ready to use.
- Combine flours, salt, and butter and rub the mix between your hands until the mix represents coarse sand.
- Add the water to the mix and mix with your hands until combined.
- Place on a floured work surface and fold it over itself two times then wrap with plastic and place in the refrigerator for two hours.
- When chilled roll out into desired shape, dock with a fork, and place in your baking vessel.
- If baking pumpkin pie, pecan pie, or a quiche, be sure to crimp the edges, then egg wash and par bake until it begins to color, let cool, then add the filling.
- If making a covered fruit pie, add filling then cover with your other piece of dough.
4ea Empire Apples
2ea Cortland Apples
1t Lemon juice
- Combine all dry ingredients and mix well. I have a large batch of this made up so I can toss it with the fruit of my choice for pies. As long as you keep the flour consistent, you can adjust the spices to the fruit you are using. The flour is important because it thickens the juices that come out of the fruit.
- Peel, core, slice or dice the apples, whichever you prefer, and toss them with the mix and place onto the bottom piece of dough.
- When I bake mine in the cast iron skillet I pull the bottom crust towards the middle and tuck the top in between the sides and the bottom layer as shown below.
- Once filled, top with a second piece of dough. Egg wash the top piece and cut slits in the top for steam to escape, bake at 350°F. The time will vary depending on the size of the pie. Aside from checking the color, try to peak in the cuts at the filling, it should have broken down and you will see the liquid bubbling inside and a little on the outside.