Pizza and Croissants and Jams–Oh My!

Posted on December 30, 2012


What an epic food adventure this was.

It started with croissants…

This is the recipe I used last year, with great success.
Only this time, I was hell bent on using whole wheat pastry flour…

I don’t want to go into too many details about the disasters of the milk/yeast attempts, but I started over 2 times before I was satisfied that the combination of milk with yeast was never going to result the nice bubbly living yeast that I had come to expect with years of bread making.

My yeast expert assured me I was using way too much yeast, etc and my confidence levels started to sink, just as my yeast was…to the bottom of the bowl…

Would love people’s thoughts on why this is…something about the lactose reacting with the yeast…?



I had helpers…


And munchers…yep…this is just the dough…she loves it for some crazy reason

Basic Pizza Dough.

A family classic. Don’t be fooled by the term “Basic”. This is where it’s at.

Adapted from “Pizza” by James McNair

1 tbsp granulated sugar

1 cup warm water

1 envelope active dry yeast…

3 1/4 cups bread, semolina, or unbleached all purpose flour…or a combination…

1 tsp salt

1/4 cup olive oil, preferably extra virgin.

Whole Wheat Variation

The whole wheat variation has a nutty, chewy texture that is compatible with hearty toppings.

1 tbsp granulated sugar or honey

1 1/4 cups warm water (110-115F)

1 envelope (1/4 oz) active dry yeast

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour

2 cups whole wheat flour

1 tsp salt

1/4 c. olive oil, preferably extra-virgin

In a small bowl, dissolve the sugar or honey, in warm tap water, and then sprinkle the yeast over water and gently stir till it dissolves, about 1 minute. A smooth, beige colored mixture results. Let stand in a warm spot until a thin layer of foam covers the surface, about 5 minutes, indicating that the yeast is effective. If making whole wheat dough, combine the 2 flours in a bowl and use as the flour in the directions that follow.

To mix and knead the dough by hand, combine 3 cups of the flour with the salt in a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the center of the flour, and pour in the yeast mixture and the oil, if using. Using a wooden spoon vigorously stir the flour into the well, beginning in the center and working toward the sides of the bowl, until the flour is incorporated and the soft dough just begins to hold together.

The famed pizza chef

The famed pizza chef

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Dust your hands with flour and knead the dough gently in the following manner: press down on the dough with the heels of your hands and push it away from you, then partially fold it back over itself. Shift it a quarter turn and repeat the procedure. While kneading, very gradually add just enough of the remaining 1/4 cup flour until the dough is no longer sticky or tacky; this should take about 5 minutes. Continue kneading until the dough is smooth, elastic and shiny, 10 to 15 minutes longer. Knead the dough only until it feels smooth and springy, too much kneading overdevelops the gluten in the flour and results in a tough crust. (Love these descriptors)

Can also use a food processor or standing electric mixer.

After mixing/kneading the dough, shape the dough into a ball and place it into a well-oiled bowl, turning to coat completely on all sides with oil. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap to prevent moisture loss, and set to rise in a draft-free warm place (75-85F) until doubled in bulk, about 45 min for quick rising yeast, or 1 1/2 hrs for regular yeast.

With your fist, punch down the dough as soon as it has doubled in bulk to prevent overrising. Shape it into a ball, pressing out all the air bubbles. If you are using bread flour or semolina flour, turn the dough in an oiled bowl to coat once more, cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until puffy, from 35 min to 1 hr. Omit this step if using all-purpose flour. (Any ideas why? I’m not the expert here, as you can see since I’m quoting this verbatim without much color. I should have interviewed the main pizza chef at length. Whoops.)

If you cannot bake the pizza within 2 hrs after rising, punch dough down, turn into oiled bowl, and then refrigerate again…can be punched down total of 4 times and refrigerated up to 36 hrs…My question is–seriously who plans these things that far in advance! Could you come help me with menu-planning sometime? Thanks.

I honestly can’t continue on with this incredibly in-depth description of the rolling, the shaping, the etc. for the dough. I hope you’re feeling confident in your inner italian pizza chef now, and you can carry on as you see fit.

I’ll just leave you with one valuable tidbit–namely, “fill and bake as quickly as possible”. Now that’s my kind of instruction.

To be followed by eating it as quickly as you can without burning your mouth.

We love the family style dinner that involves a few of us running in and out of the kitchen moving pizzas from oven to table, and everyone else sitting around enjoying each different pie as it comes out, discussing the toppings, having salad courses between hot pizza courses, etc. It makes for a lovely gathering where everyone finds they have room for “just one more slice” of that “special pizza” that Pat saved for the end…


Sausage, red onion, and roasted cauliflower pizza…mmm…

Fixin's---butternut squash, basil, sausage, onion, broccoli...

Fixin’s—butternut squash, basil, sausage, onion, kale. We were going for fall flavors…



We had many hands to help with the epic work of topping 11 pizzas…


Voila. You had to be here to believe it. These were outta-this-world.

Meanwhile–back at the ranch. Maggie of Jams by Mags fame had brought apples for an apple jam (with the likelihood of adding hops to keep things interesting…) so we got those going…and the apples bubbled away while we chomped our pizzas.



This is the only sighting you’ll have of a finished croissant–and it’s a very eaten one at that–because I was quite disappointed with how they held their shape. I think the whole wheat dough had a definite effect on the aesthetic, but I’m not sure how to correct it in the future.  I will certainly be trying it again to see if I can perfect, but they were just somewhat spread-out and crustier on the edges after baking, and not puffy, light and golden, like I would have wanted them to be (and how my other, white flour batch was last year). BUT they were delicious. Everyone loved. Especially with the strawberry lemonade jam from JamsbyMags. I’ll have to let her give you the recipe if it’s for sharing:) It’s like they were made for each other.

The hopped apple jam that was concocted by the masterminds that night

The hopped apple jam that was concocted by the masterminds that night

This was a ton of fun, and I can’t wait to get all these same foodie masterminds in the same kitchen again…from WA, NY and VA. Another review of the jelly itself coming soon, I had to let it sit a bit.