sourdough whole wheat pizza

Occasionally we do a great job of planning our meals in advance and it results in tasty things like homemade pizza. You’d think that would be incentive for us to get organized more often. We’re getting there.

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Overnight Sourdough Whole Wheat Pizza Dough
adapted somewhat wildly from Peter Reinhart’s Crust and Crumb

1 c white bread flour (I used Roger’s Organic)
2 1/2 cups whole wheat bread flour (I used Schmidt Organic)
1 cup sourdough starter (hopefully you have some on hand, if not, find a friend or a bakery who is willing to share, or start some yourself but realize it takes time to develop)
1/4 cup sugar (I used Sucanat, a deliciously unrefined cane sugar)
1/4 tsp salt (I used Le Paludier French grey sea salt)
4 tbsp butter (I used salted because that is what I had)
1 egg (from a happy free -ranging chicken)
1 cup milk (I used Avalon organic whole milk)
1/2 cup water
Olive oil for oiling bowl (I used organic extra virgin)

Mixing: Combine all ingredients (except olive oil) in the bowl of a Kitchenaid stand mixer. Using the dough hook attachment, mix on low speed for 1 minute, then on medium speed for 10-12 minutes, sparingly adjusting for moisture if necessary with water or flour. The dough should be slightly soft and tacky and should pass the windowpane test when done (gently tug a corner and try to stretch it so you can see through it- if it rips mix it more and if it stretches it’s ready). If mixing by hand, stir ingredients together in a bowl and then knead for 12-15 minutes on a lightly floured surface.

Rise: Lightly oil a clean bowl with the olive oil and place dough in bowl. Cover with plastic and let rise at room temperature for 1 hour, until it noticeably swells.

Divide: Turn dough onto a lightly floured counter and cut in half. Round each piece.

Rest: Lightly oil either the dough rounds or the insides of two plastic bags. Place dough in bags leaving room for it to expand (it will grow more than you think in the fridge), and then place in fridge for at least 1 hour but preferably overnight (dough can be refrigerated for up to 48 hours).

Preheat oven to 550° F or as hot as possible. If you have a pizza stone, put that it before preheating. If you don’t have a pizza stone but do have a spare large sheet pan, invert that and place it in the oven before preheating.

Roll: On a floured surface, roll out each piece of dough to desired shape and thickness. Put on pans or a cornmeal-dusted peel (or makeshift peel – I use either a wooden cutting board or an inverted sheet pan as a peel. Also it doesn’t need to be cornmeal but be sure to dust the peel with something so the pizza slides off okay). Make a fancy crust if you like. Sauce and top according to personal preference (we used organic pizza sauce, roasted garlic, veggies from our garden and shredded mozzarella).

Bake: Slide into the oven and bake for 8-12 minutes, or until the dough is crisp and golden and the cheese is bubbly and golden.

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This morning I dragged my inner self kicking and screaming to the office. I was almost late and all but my physical self clung to everything beautiful and calm that I passed along the way. Dreams like kites burst out of me, tethered by longing. One day I will find myself spending days how I choose.

However, I swam in the ocean this afternoon, which makes up for a lot. I splashed around at a place where the water is cool and clear, and angled rocks make a small tucked-away beach at the end of a winding rural road. There were big swells coming in; they lifted and lulled me as I tilted my head back to take in the wind-tossed treetops. Small blackberries at the top of the beach trail. Home, and dinner, and tea. Summer is sliding by quickly.

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almond frangipane filling

One of my husband’s sisters lives in Belize. She claims she lives in a swamp but it sounds more like a tropical paradise to me. Because she grew up here in Canada, she sometimes grows tired of fresh mango and pineapple and yearns for more temperate fruits. During a phone conversation back in March when I was still working at the bakery, I happened to mention the frangipane tarts we made there. A moment later I was promising to make these for her as soon as humanly possible, and no I didn’t think they would stand up well in the mail.

Joni visited us last month and amidst lakes, gelato and outdoor Shakespeare, these happened. Because they had to, and also because they are very good. (She admitted that she was hoping some would arrive by post.)

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almond frangipane filling
adapted from Flo Braker’s The Simple Art of Perfect Baking. Makes enough to feed 3 frangipane fiends for 3 days.

2 cups almond meal (aka almond flour – you can make your own by grinding blanched almonds)
1 cup (/8 oz) butter (room temperature)
1 cup granulated sugar (I used organic evaporated cane sugar juice, large crystals with a slight honeyed tone)
4 eggs (room temperature)
1/2 tsp almond extract
zest of 1 organic orange (optional)

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one by one, making sure each is well incorporated before adding the next. Add extract and zest and mix well, until frangipane is smooth and homogenous. The filling may be used immediately or refrigerated for up to a week. Frangipane can also be frozen if you don’t think you’ll get to it right away.

To use: Prepare your favorite tart dough, and be sure to have some pretty fruit on hand. Fresh or canned pears, nectarines and peaches can be sliced into fans, and/or fresh or frozen raspberries, cranberries, blackberries or blueberries or fresh or canned cherries all work to arrange into pretty designs to top the tarts. Alternatively, you could decorate with whole almonds or chocolate chunks. Roll the tart dough out and line your choice of tart pans or rings (shells can be set aside in the fridge for later use if you wish to make ahead up to this point). The number or shells you make will depend on the sizes of your pans. To bake, preheat oven to 350° F. Scoop frangipane into shell to fill it halfway (frangipane will rise in somewhat in the oven) and press flat. If using filling from fridge you will have to press slightly harder; the filling is quite soft when freshly made. Arrange fruit on top and slide into the oven. Bake until shells are golden brown and tops feel slightly springy when lightly pressed (or at least don’t feel mushy). The amount of time will depend on the size of your pans, however it usually takes about 35-40 minutes for me.
Optional: while tarts are still warm from the oven, you can heat up a glob (a few spoonfuls to half a cup) of apricot jam with a small splash of water, and when it boils bush it onto the tarts as a glaze. You can also garnish with toasted sliced almonds if you wish (to toast, spread on a parchment-lined sheet pan and bake in a 350° oven for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally and keeping a close eye on them until evenly golden).

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the drive to Port Renfrew

The ocean, patchy, like a silvery map of itself. Salmonberry and salal towering over our heads. Cedars weathered by wind and salt air. Sword ferns, lady fern, bracken. Hemlock dewy with mist. Tall pink fireweed spilling out of the wild towards the roadway. Cut blocks and slash piles rough and wrenching.

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Twice now, we’ve swum in the small lake naked. Sunlight on pale skin, bodies moving freely in the fluid lakescape; the movement of my arms stitching me to the surface. Small feather-winged seeds and insects drift along, snatched up by big glittering dragonflies. Fork-tailed swallows dip and dive, sending up arcs of spray as their swoops skim the surface, butter yellow bellies filled with tiny transparent wings in the blue sky. There’s a silvery film on the ripples in the water and where the tall firs and cedars touch sky. Beyond all but the unseen, ravens glide. Their flight traces infinity symbols in the cloudless expanse. Refreshed, we buy vegetables on the way home. Also peaches, yogurt, apples, butter, a battery and blueberries. The car ride is hot and smelly and as we enter the city the magic is gone.

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It’s interesting the roundabout ways in which we get what we want. I wanted another day vacation (actually I’d like many more, but let’s not go there just yet), and here I am at home on the couch with stitches in my knee thanks to a careless move when building a sheet-metal shed yesterday. It’s not that bad; I’ll be back at work tomorrow, but when I woke up this morning it hurt a lot and I couldn’t walk. Instead I managed an awkward painful hop-shuffle-drag gait across the house and called in sick so I can keep it still for the day. I’ll have to work on a more comfortable way to get those other vacation days.

Speaking of vacation, we just had an excellent week of freedom. We built a shed, swam at several new old beaches, cleaned the house and let it get messy again, harvested onions, had some dear family moments and saw an old friend, and explored tide pools. Again, please (though maybe without the shed).

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