Saturday, 30 May 2015

The 'Two-Ingredient Pizza Dough' Recipe.

I am really excited about this! I want to share with you a recipe that has me absolutely fascinated! It's the 'two-ingredient pizza dough' recipe. The two ingredients: self-rising flour and Greek yogurt.


This dough creates a fantastic pizza base with a fluffy interior, perfectly crispy crust, chewy texture and it tastes delicious! Not just that, this dough is adaptable to be used for other bread dough recipes such as calzones and stromboli; flat, naan and pita breads; scones and scrolls!


What I wanted to find out was what make's this recipe work. After a bit of research and investigating this is what I came up with:

Classic pizza dough has flour, yeast, a little sugar, liquid, salt, and an oil component. The flour is responsible for the structure of the pizza crust because of gluten development and starch gelatinization. The yeast eats the sugar creating carbon dioxide - leavening for the air incorporation - and other products that give tell-tale flavors associated with fermented products. The liquid helps along starch gelatinization and rehydrates the yeast. Finally, the oil provides some softness to the dough, and the salt creates a little flavor as well as reinforces the crust structure.


Two-ingredient pizza dough uses Greek yogurt and self-rising flour. Self-rising flour contains a leavening agent and some salt. This takes the place of regular flour, yeast, and salt in the original recipe. The Greek yogurt is where the science comes in. Greek yogurt has quite a bit of protein in it as well as water and a little fat (please don’t buy the fat free version). The water in the yogurt hydrates the flour and therefore the leavening agent which begins to produce carbon dioxide - especially in the presence of heat. This carbon dioxide incorporates air in the crust just as the yeast-produced carbon dioxide does. The extra protein is also important. The yogurt’s protein addition creates a stronger gluten structure without excessive kneading or proofing like most bread products require. Finally, getting a Greek yogurt with at least 2% fat is important in order to create some softness in the pizza crust. That means that after cooling, it will retain a great texture, so please cut your calories elsewhere!


The final important component is the flavor. Yeast has byproducts from fermentation that are responsible for the smell you recognize when you walk into a bakery. It would seem that that yeasty flavor isn’t possible with this two-ingredient dough. Think again! Because Greek yogurt is a fermented product, the flavors exist that you associate with yeasty breads (even though lactic acid bacteria is at work in the yogurt instead of yeast). And voila! A super-easy two-ingredient pizza dough!


Searching the net, I found there were several versions of the recipe. What I noticed were the ingredient ratio's and how this affected the dough-making process. Some recipes would start by mixing together a 1:1 cup flour to yogurt ratio then adding an extra cup of flour while kneading to bring the sticky dough together. Some recipes started with a 2:1 cup flour to yogurt ratio, gradually mixing the dough to a crumbly form then continue mixing by hand, bringing the dough together. I have provided instructions for both as I tried each method, both providing the same results. I guess it depends on which you feel most comfortable with.


The other thing I noticed was that the ingredients are measured by volume (cups) and not weight. From practice, for successful results in baking, measuring ingredients by weight is the best. Well I fear to say that this would be the only time I felt that wasn't necessary. The ratio however is what's important and the dough-making process (kneading) in producing a soft and pliable dough.


Now if you do not have self-rising flour, you can add 1 teaspoon of baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt to 1 cup plain flour or wholemeal flour or a combination of both.  Mix together and use as directed in the recipe. You can also use pre-mixes of gluten-free self-rising flour and plain gluten-free flour, adding baking powder and salt as above. If your using your own blend of gluten free flour remember to add some sort of binder, 1/2 teaspoon of either xanthan gum, guar gum, ground chia seeds or psyllium husk powder per 1 cup of homemade gluten-free flour mix.


Now for the recipe!


UPDATES! 

Mixing Method: I found this way of bring the dough together the most effective, quickest and easiest way. Starting with a 1:1 flour to yogurt ratio, mixing to form a very sticky dough then adding 1/4 of the remaining half of flour, combing to bring a less sticky dough together then adding the remaining flour to make a workable dough.
Rolling Method: I found the dough to be very workable and didn't like to be over kneaded, enough to bring it to a soft and pliable dough, just a few minutes depending on the size of your dough. Unlike regular pizza dough where you really have to stretch and work it into a base, by gently pushing the dough out while rolling and gentle pressing out with your fingers ensures the crust will have a lighter texture and fluffy interior. Rolling and pressing too hard, compresses the dough resulting in a dense crust.
Pre-Baking Pizza Base: One big step many people skip in the pizza-making process is pre-baking the pizza base. Baking the base in the oven for 5 minutes or so before putting on toppings prevents the dreaded 'doughy crust'. Also pre-baking is a good idea when you have several ingredients or ingredients that are wet or will get wet when heated e.g. zucchinis, squash, tomatoes, etc or if your using a thick or watery sauce.

The Two-Ingredient Pizza Dough


This makes 1 10 inch round pizza with a thin 'n' crispy base. For larger or thicker base double recipe. If using dough for things like calzones or scrolls, double recipe. Or use your own discretion.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup of Greek yogurt*

1 cup of self-rising flour, plus extra to dust kneading area and rolling pin

*Note: I have tried using several types of yogurt and the most successful one for the recipe is just plain Greek yogurt. Forget low fat Greek yogurt and regular yogurt. And watch out for Greek yogurt that contains thickeners! The cultures, taste and thickness of plain Greek yogurt has a huge influence in the result of the pizza base.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 200C with a pizza stone inside. If you don't have a pizza stone, you can use a baking tray instead but I highly recommend a pizza stone. The key to getting your pizza crust to have good texture is using a really hot oven and preheating the tray or pizza stone, first before placing the pizza on.


2:1 Ratio Method: In a bowl, combine the Greek yogurt and self-rising flour and mix with a spoon. At the start it will be quite crumbly but as you mix the dough it will gradually come together. At this point (see photo below) I found it easier to use my hands to bring the dough together in the bowl.


When your dough looks ready for kneading (think play dough), turn out onto a floured bench top and knead until it forms a soft and pliable dough. Note: to knead just fold the dough over itself and push/press, fold and press, fold and press etc. As you knead, the dough becomes tacky just add a sprinkle of flour but err on the side of less flour. Too much flour will make a tough dough.



1:1 Ratio Method: In a bowl, combine the Greek yogurt and half of the self-rising flour and mix with a spoon until a very sticky dough has formed.


Spoon out onto a well floured bench top and knead, gradually adding the remaining half of the flour to work into a soft and pliable dough. The dough will be very sticky and stick to your hands but as you add the flour and knead, the dough will gradually come off your hands and all incorporate together.


Updated Mixing Method: In a bowl, combine the Greek yogurt and half of the self-rising flour (1/2 cup) and mix with a spoon until a very sticky dough has formed. Add 1/4 cup of flour and mix to combine into a not so sticky dough. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of flour and mix again to bring a workable dough together. Turn out onto a lightly floured bench top and knead to form a soft and pliable dough, adding a sprinkle of flour if dough becomes tacky. Shape into a ball.

On a sheet of baking paper, roll out dough using a floured rolling pin to form a pizza base of your preferred shape and thickness.

Updated Rolling Method: Gently flatten dough out with your hands to form a thick cylinder shape. Place on a baking tray lined with a sheet of baking paper (the tray aids in easy transporting of pizza onto preheated pizza stone or baking tray in oven), then gently, not pushing down hard, roll out dough using a floured rolling pin to form the pizza base. Then finish forming the base by gently using your fingers, pressing the dough out to form your preferred shape and thickness. Using your fingers you can ensure even thickness of base. 

Update: Pre-Bake the Pizza Base
Gently prick the dough with a fork in several spots to prevent it from bubbling up and slide onto the preheat pizza stone or tray and pre-bake pizza dough for 5-7 minutes, until the dough is firm and dry to the touch but not quite browned. This time will change depending on how thick or thin your crust is. Remove base with baking paper from oven back onto transporter tray and top with your favorite sauce and toppings. Return pizza to oven and bake an additional 10-12 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbling and base is golden.

Top with your favourite toppings.


Then slide pizza with the baking paper onto the preheated pizza stone or tray and bake until cheese is melted and bubbling and base is golden (10-12 minutes).


I've had alot of fun with this recipe making numerous pizza's as well experimenting with making calzones, stromboli, flat breads and scrolls, all of which worked out brilliantly! Please I employ you to put your aprons on and and start perfecting your technique with this recipe. It is so surprisingly pleasing!

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Trials and Tribulations of Baking Gluten Free Bread.

It has been nearly 2 years since I created this blog as a catalog for all my research I had collected over the years on how to bake gluten free bread and I still find myself discovering new things, some good and some not so good, each time I bake a loaf of gluten free bread. So I feel compelled to share these discovers to help those out there still trying to successfully bake gluten free bread.
Since my first bread recipe I postedwhich back then I had great results with, as time passed I was finding faults with my loaves. Also I was still surfing the net looking for new information, new recipes, new methods to create the ultimate gluten free bread.
I started searching for latest recipes that were being posted on blogs and found this one that took my interest. Adapting the recipe to my needs, after several attempts I was successfully baking again. Well as time passed my improved recipe was developing faults once more. I was getting a great rise but then once in the oven and on removal, my loaves were sinking. I queried everything I was doing and finally settled for the fact that the environment and the ovens played a essential part in my bread successes and failures.
When I first posted the recipe, after trials of successful attempts, it was in the middle of winter. As I continued to bake through the months, the weather got warmer and more humid and that was when the sinking business started. Also as a professional house sitter, my baking wasn't always using the same oven. Every oven has it's own uniqueness in heating and this too was affecting my bread.
Going back to the original Fork and Beans recipe, I attempted another loaf following the recipe true to form as much as possible, with the exception of using my own gluten free flour blend and halving the amount of chia seeds with psyllium husks. This time I was at my own home using my oven and it is on the cusp of winter, so the weather was cool and the air clear. My kitchen was warm but not stuffy.
I felt like a mad scientist - measuring, weighing, grinding, sifting, thermometer'ing' and controlling just about everything I could while making the bread. It rose beautifully and strong. I could see the fullness in the top of the risen dough, it didn't look puffy or holey. Nervously I placed it into the preheated oven and hoped for the best. Under an hour later it was looking fantastic. It didn't sink! The loaf was still standing strong and smelt heavenly! But its not until you slice into the bread that you know you have won and this you have to wait till the bread is completely cooled. The next day I took my serrated knife and gently started cutting into the bread...........I wept with joy! Success!


Getting back to the start when I said I felt compelled to share my discoveries, these discoveries are the essential keys in successfully baking a loaf of gluten free bread. In no specific order:
The Environment - depending on where you live, northern hemisphere, southern hemisphere, low altitude, high altitude, these factors play a part in bread baking. Amazingly enough it's true. The climate between the two hemispheres are quite different and climate means how much or how little moisture there is in the air and the extremities of temperature depending on what season it is, these factors affect the dough's habitat just like it affects us. The altitude is a matter of gravity and since we are working with something, yeast, that rises working against gravity, if you live in a high altitude place you may experience your bread rising quicker than stated in the recipe and vice versa for low altitude.
The Ovens - as I said earlier being a housesitter I have used several ovens for my baking and each time I have different results. Some ovens work hotter than others, some are fan ovens and some maybe older and have leaks in the seals allowing for heat to escape and making the ovens thermostat work over time resulting in a inconsistent heat. This just requires patience and getting to know how your oven works and adapting your baking time and temperature.
The Actions - these things are what you do to bring the recipe together, those little tips you find along the way that you feel has helped you with baking your bread. Don't ignore these the next time you go to bake your next loaf, write down specifically what you did and why, and work on your skill, your craft each time you bake. I have followed the same recipe yet chose a different method or did something different in the instructions for whatever reason and have noticed the results to be either wonderful or not quite what I was hoping for. All take part in the results.
The Will - this can only bestowed by yourself. Don't lose faith if you are having failure after failure. Research. Ask questions. Try again. Don't be scared to let go of those little things that were working for you and are now not. Find new ones. Try new recipes. Experiment. This is the only way you will become a successful gluten free bread baker, trust me!
Now If you have read this lengthy post hoping to find perhaps the clue, the secret in baking gluten free bread well there isn't one. It's all trial and error my friends. And eventually if not sooner, the trial and error will be tried and true! And if you didn't read this post and went scrolling down looking for the recipe, well it's not here, that's the next post. But please do read this as it will help you with your baking ventures.....................and stay tuned.