breadsticks, sideview.

I really wasn’t sure what to call this post.

Flatbread sticks?

Flat breadsticks?

Seedy breadsticks? No, that’s weird.

So, everything breadsticks it is. That way, it covers both the seeded, “everything” topping and the fact that these breadsticks turned out to be, well, all sorts of shapes. Mostly flat. Just how we used to think the Earth was.
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white wine & honey pizza dough.


In case you hadn’t noticed, I changed my blog layout. I hope you like it. It feels way more like home to me.

Because I love pizza so dang much, I thought I’d make pizza dough (a new, equally tasty version of my standby) for my inaugural post for my new layout. There are still a few tweaks and twinges to work on around here, so pardon me while we transition. In the meantime, however, make this pizza dough for dinner tonight. That’s not a request.

OK, that was rude. Pretty please make this dough for dinner tonight.
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slices.

They say when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

I disagree. I say when life gives you lemons, throw them away (or use them to clean your garbage disposal, and then throw them away) and make challah bread.
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pizza roll, half-eaten.

Ever heard of Pizza Rolls? I’m sure you have. They’re those frozen pockets of dough filled with cheese and pizza sauce as well as what I’m sure is a whole host of bad things for you.

Of course, the husband loves them.

slicing.

view from the top.

It’s become a habit of ours lately to buy nasty frozen treats like these for the weekends or for weekday dinners when neither of us has the energy to even lift a finger. Though I don’t generally partake in the heaping mound of Pizza Rolls the husband warms up for himself for lunch or game days, I have been found guilty of eating a frozen burrito or lasagna from a box. It’s shameful.

pizza sauce and cheese, yo.

they look like ravioli.

This weekend, I decided to make some changes. So, after eating buttery theater popcorn (while watching the new Harry Potter movie, of course) on Friday and helping ourselves to a generous serving of Mexican food on Saturday, I thought it best to at least make the inevitable Pizza Roll lunch on Sunday a healthy meal.

homemade pizza rolls.

I wouldn’t necessarily call these an exact replica of those infamous Pizza Rolls — they’re more like doughy pillows with a hint of cheese and pizza sauce. Still delicious, but not quite the same. If you’re going for a healthy lunch — er, snack — these will do the trick, but if you’re really craving actual Pizza Rolls, these won’t hit the spot. But they do make a tasty lunch — er, snack — and saved us from being a few hundred calories shy in our weekend of what Michael Phelps devours in a day. It’s all relative.

Debrief: As mentioned above, if you’re looking for legitimate Pizza Rolls, these aren’t quite the same. But they taste like mini pizzas wrapped in dough. Kind of like a calzone. A mini calzone pillow. Yeah.

Homemade Pizza Rolls
A Girl Versus Dough original (gasp!)

Yields: About 28 pizza rolls

Ingredients:

1 3/4 cups flour
3/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup warm water
1/2 tbsp sugar
1 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup pizza sauce
1/3 cup finely shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions:

In a large bowl, whisk together flour and salt. Make a well in the center and pour in water, yeast and sugar. Let sit until foamy, about 5 minutes. Then, add olive oil and mix ingredients together until a dough forms. Pour dough onto counter and knead about 8-10 minutes. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place risen dough on countertop and, using a rolling pin, roll into a very, very thin square (about as thin as the walls of a ravioli). Using a pizza cutter, cut square into strips lengthwise and then cut crosswise so you have about 56 individual 1 1/2-inch squares (or as many as you end up making).
Put about 1/2 tsp pizza sauce on half the squares, and top with the same amount of cheese. Take the plain squares and place them on top of the squares with sauce and cheese and pinch the seams closed. Press fork tines around the edges of the squares to close the seams completely. Place each pocket on a baking stone or parchment paper-lined baking sheet and bake for about 10-15 minutes or until lightly brown on the edges (I had to take mine out before they were very brown at all because the cheese and sauce was exploding out of the sides — oops). Serve immediately.

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homemade pretzels.

I know I’ve been kind of slow on the upkeep of this blog. But it’s not my fault.

percy.

It’s his.

Go ahead and try to blame him. I know I have.

cat nap.

It has not gone well.

Percy, as we’ve named him, moved in this weekend and I think he’s planning to stay. I think we’re OK with it. So long as he lets me bake, which so far, hasn’t been a problem.

divided.

pretzels pre-bake.

These soft pretzels are a perfect complement to my husband Elliott’s Sunday Vikings Game-Watching Ritual. I’m kind of the best wife ever, not only letting him take over the TV for a few hours when I could be watching Project Runway marathons, but also making him game-day food. Yes, I’m gloating. As a (albeit lukewarm) Bears fan having lived with an obsessive Vikings fan for over a year, I think I’ve earned my right to do so.

soft pretzels.

But back to the pretzels. It took me multiple tries to get the twisting right (a few look like strangled pretzels, while others are just ugly blobs), but I eventually figured it out. The dough rose incredibly well and the boiling/baking process was really easy. The hardest part was keeping myself from eating them right away (a burnt tongue never killed anyone).

mmm, pretzels.

And Percy? Well…

omg.

I guess he’s more patient than I am.

Debrief: The pretzels will look ugly after being submerged in the baking soda bath. Don’t worry — this is normal. They’ll look less wrinkly once they’ve been baked (but there’s no saving the ones that are shaped nothing like pretzels).

Soft Pretzels

Courtesy of Michael Knock, the Iowa City Press-Citizen

Yields:
8 pretzels

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups warm water
1 tbsp sugar
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
4 1/2 cups flour
4 tbsp butter, melted
2 tsp salt
10 cups water
2/3 cup baking soda
1 large egg yolk mixed with 1 tbsp water
Kosher or pretzel salt (or sesame seeds or Parmesan cheese) for dusting the pretzels (or sea salt, as I used)

Directions:

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine water, sugar and yeast. Allow to sit for 5 minutes or until slightly foamy. Add in melted butter, flour and salt and, using the dough hook, knead for about 4-5 minutes or until the dough is cohesive and has pulled away completely from the edges of the bowl. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

When the dough is nearly doubled, bring to a boil the 10 cups water and baking soda. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F and line two baking sheets with lightly oiled parchment paper. In a small bowl, beat together egg yolk and water for the egg wash. When dough is risen, remove from the bowl and divide into 8 equal pieces. Roll out each piece into a 2-foot long rope and twist into a pretzel shape, pinching the edges to keep them from coming apart.

Using a turner, place one pretzel at a time into the baking soda bath and boil for 30 seconds. Remove from the bath and place on parchment paper. Brush each pretzel with the egg wash and sprinkle with salt or topping of your choice. Once all pretzels have been boiled, bake for about 12-14 minutes or until a deep brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before eating.

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bread bowls.

I am noticing that I talk about the weather a lot — most people do, I guess. It’s the quintessential ice breaker. I admit I’m one of those people who, when uninspired with anything to say, fills the dead air with talk of the weather. I can’t help it, though. It’s not just that it’s a wonderful conversation filler with a stranger during one of those awkward moments — though that’s nice. It’s that I feel my life revolves around the weather, so it’s often at the forefront of my mind.

semolina.tough, tough dough.
risen dough.mist.
Today, and yesterday (aka all freaking weekend long) it’s been crappy outside. When it’s not pouring rain, it’s misting. When it’s not cloudy, it’s extra cloudy (or nighttime). I feel like we’re living next to Niagara Falls (minus the beautiful view and the roaring sound of the water). And because of this not-so-gorgeous weather, I haven’t been able to ride my bike, like I wanted to. I haven’t been able to stroll through farmers markets and art/craft festivals, or go to the park like I wanted to. I haven’t been able to go to the apple orchard, like I wanted to. It’s made for a pretty cranky me.

propping the oven door.

bread bowls, pre-soup.

But I guess there’s always an upside to rainy days (I’m trying to be optimistic here, so bear with me). Rainy days make it easier for me to stay inside doing laundry or cleaning all day, because I don’t feel that longing to be outside. Rainy days are also perfect for sipping warm tea and catching up on episodes of “Mad Men” (my new obsession) and “Modern Family” (our new obsession). I’ve also had time to paint my nails. It’s also the perfect kind of day for soup, which is why we made this delightful carrot and cilantro soup. And what’s better for a thick, warm soup than a bread bowl, which I also had time to make? Nothing, I tell you. Nothing is better.

view from the top.

Don’t expect much with these bread bowls, at least in the size department. They’re not your gigantic Panera bread bowls. They’re the perfect size for a cup of soup (and I can attest they hold up nicely for refills). But what they lack in size they make up for in taste. The addition of semolina makes the dough soft and flavorful, and if you’re patient enough with the process of hardening the crust, these bowls will reward you with their deliciously crunchy exteriors. You can use the insides for bread crumbs or croutons, or just use them as extra dipping devices (as the husband did… I don’t think he ever used a spoon).

carrot & cilantro soup.

Either way, they make rainy days like yesterday and today a little brighter.

Debrief:
The only difficulty I had in making these bowls was kneading the extremely tough dough (I added a little water to it to make it workable) and shaping each piece into a round ball. In shaping the bowls, I used my hands to pull the sides of the dough down and tuck them under, pinching the ends at the bottom together so the top was tight and round. The underside will eventually flatten and come together through the baking process.

Bread Bowls

Courtesy of King Arthur Flour

Yields 5 bowls

Ingredients:

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup semolina
2 1/4 tsp instant yeast (or 2 3/4 tsp active dry yeast, as I used)
1 tbsp non-diastatic malt or 2 tsp sugar (as I used)
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups warm water

Directions:

Combine all of the dough ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix them together with a dough hook. Once the dough has just come together, pour the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead for about 8-10 minutes, or until soft and smooth (the dough will be kind of a pain to mix, and if it’s just too dry, add 1 tsp water to the dough at a time until it’s more manageable). Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.

Divide the risen dough into five pieces and form each piece into a round (not flattened) ball. Place each ball on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and cover lightly with greased plastic wrap or a tea towel (something that’s not heavy). Let rise until doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.

Uncover the balls and let them sit for 10-15 minutes to develop a tough skin. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Before placing the balls in the oven, mist them heavily with water. Bake the bread bowls for 18-22 minutes or until they’re a deep, golden brown. Turn off the oven and prop open the door a bit, leaving the bread bowls inside for 15 minutes to develop a thick, tough crust. Remove the bread bowls from the oven and let cool completely on a cooling rack before cutting. Cut off the tops and remove the insides, leaving about a 1/4-inch thickness all around the inside. Fill the bowls with your favorite hearty soup or chili. Enjoy the rain.

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