cooking deep dish pizza

Throughout these last few months, I’ve had this mantra, “when stressed, baking is best.” Baking cookies for my crew has put a smile on my face. The kids love it, too.

In our house another baker has emerged and she is rocking all the recipes she’s tried. My 12-year-old daughter, Lauren, has been pouring over old cookbooks and searching the internet for new and interesting recipes to try. There’s been a lot of hits and a few misses; but most importantly she’s having a blast baking the day away.

We have two pets in our house: Jack, our 18-year-old rescue mutt, and Ole, a one-year-old rescue Maine Coon cat. These guys are spoiled by Lauren as she loves to find homemade treats to make for them. This one features ham and cheddar and was a winner for both our four-legged friends. My kids thought they were tasty too!

Ham and cheese biscuits

http://doggydessertchef.com/2010/07/19/ham-and-cheese-biscuits/

1 cup cooked and chopped ham

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

1-1/4 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup milk

1 tablespoon wheat germ

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Allow cheddar cheese to warm to room temperature and in a large bowl combine all ingredients until well mixed. Roll out dough on floured surface 1/2 inch thick. Cut into shapes with the cutter of your choice. Place treats on an ungreased cookie sheets and cook for 15 to 20 minutes. Cool and refrigerate.

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Friday nights are always pizza night at the Kveno house. Lauren was tired of our usual frozen pizza, week after week, so she found a Chicago-style deep dish pizza recipe. It was amazing! We all agreed it took us right back to a small pizzeria in Chicago when we devoured thick, cheesy, delicious deep dish there.

Deep dish pizza

https://www.southernfamilyrecipes.com/2020/04/homemade.html

dough:

3-1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup yellow cornmeal

1-1/2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons sugar

2-1/4 teaspoons instant yeast

1-1/4 cups water, room temperature

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

1 teaspoon plus 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided

sauce:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/4 cup grated onion

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes

1/4 teaspoon sugar

2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh basil

1 tablespoon olive oil

freshly ground black pepper

toppings:

1 pound mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 4 cups)

pepperoni, as much as you like

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Make the dough: Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, salt, sugar and yeast in a large bowl. Add water and melted butter and mix on low speed, using a dough hook, until fully combined, 1 to 2 minutes, scraping sides and bottom of bowl occasionally. Increase speed to medium and knead until the dough is glossy and smooth and pulls away from sides of the bowl, 4 to 5 minutes. (You can easily make this by hand, mixing in the water and butter with a spatula and then kneading by hand.)

Coat a large bowl with 1 teaspoon olive oil. Using a greased spatula, transfer the dough to the bowl, turning to coat the dough in oil; cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let rise at room temperature until nearly doubled in volume, 45 to 60 minutes.

Make the sauce: While dough rises, heat the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat until melted. Add onion, oregano and salt; cook, stirring occasionally until liquid has evaporated and onion is golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Stir in tomatoes and sugar, increase heat to high, and bring to a simmer. Lower heat to medium-low and simmer until reduced to about 2½ cups, 25 to 30 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the basil and olive oil, then season with salt and pepper.

Laminate the dough: Turn the dough out onto dry work surface and roll into a 15×12-inch rectangle. Using an offset spatula, spread the softened butter over the surface of the dough, leaving a ½-inch border along the edges. Starting at the short end, roll the dough into a tight cylinder. With seam side down, flatten the cylinder into an 18×4-inch rectangle.

Cut the rectangle in half crosswise. Working with one half, fold into thirds like a business letter; pinch seams together to form a ball. Repeat with the remaining half. Return balls to the oiled bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap and let rise in refrigerator until nearly doubled in volume, 40 to 50 minutes. Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to lower position and preheat oven to 425 degrees. Bake the pizzas: Coat two 9-inch round cake pans with 2 tablespoons of olive oil each.

Transfer 1 dough ball to dry work surface and roll out into a 13-inch circle. Transfer dough to the pan by rolling the dough loosely around a rolling pin and unrolling into the pan. Lightly press dough into the pan, working into corners and 1-inch upsides. If dough resists stretching, let it relax for 5 minutes before trying again. Repeat with remaining dough ball.

For each pizza, sprinkle 2 cups mozzarella evenly over the surface of the dough. (If you’re using any meat or veggie toppings, add them now, on top of the cheese.) Spread 1¼ cups tomato sauce over the cheese (or toppings) and sprinkle 2 tablespoons Parmesan over the sauce. Bake until crust is golden brown, 20 to 30 minutes. Remove pizza from the oven and let rest 10 minutes before slicing and serving.

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Lauren and I were feeling mighty brave after the success of her deep dish pizza so we decided to dive right into the world of sourdough bread making. That. Was. A. Mistake. We followed the recipe to make a starter and every day for five days you add more water and flour. There was bubbling the first few days. That was the sign we were looking for in knowing the starter was coming along nicely. Then on day four a liquid formed at the top. Smelling it, I knew something was off. Of course, I went right to the trusty Google to see what was going on. I quickly discovered that the liquid on top was named “hooch.” Yup, that was basically alcohol which was formed by the fermenting flour and water combo. While we like to create a lot of things in this house, making moonshine with my 12-year-old isn’t one of those things. I read you can pour off the liquid and keep going. Unfortunately, the starter never recovered from its hooch phase. Lauren was undeterred in the baking department and simply went another route. Here’s a recipe she tried for some un-sourdough buns that were absolutely delicious!

Homemade buns

3/4 cup warm water

2 tablespoons butter, room temperature

1 egg

3-1/2 cups flour

1/4 cup sugar

1-1/4 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon instant yeast

Mix all ingredients. Cover dough and let it rise for 1 to 2 hours. Shape into buns, bake at 375 degrees for 15 to 18 minutes.

We’ve had some winners and losers in Kveno baking, but man, have we had fun! If you’re feeling baking adventurous give one of these recipes a try with your family!

Kristin Kveno scours the internet, pours over old family recipes and searches everywhere in between to find interesting food ideas for feeding your crew. Do you have a recipe you want to share? You can reach Kristin at kkveno@thelandonline.com.