round challah for Rosh Hashana (vegan)

15th September 2020

Round challahs are traditionally baked for the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashana, to symbolize the continuity of life – and on Rosh Hashana, we dip challah and apples in honey to symbolize our hopes for a sweet New Year. For this reason, Rosh Hashana challahs are often sweeter than those served the rest of the year. Some add more sugar than they normally do to the dough, other add raisins, or sprinkle cinnamon and sugar.

May this coming year be filled with sweet blessings and may it bring you closer to your own inner HAPPINESS.

round challah for Rosh Hashana

Preparation – 2½ hours

Baking time -35 minutes

Makes 1 large round challah

The recipe uses a mixer with a dough hook, but you can easily use your hands. 

ingredients 

2 Tbsp/20g flaxseed

1 cup/230g warm milk or almond milk

6 Tbsp/60g olive oil

1 tsp active dry yeast

1¼ cups/150g whole spelt flour

2¼ cups/350g white flour

¼ cup/40g light brown sugar

1 tsp fine rock salt

preparation 

1.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, whisk together the flaxseeds with warm almond milk, oil and yeast. Leave it to sit for 10 minutes, undisturbed until the mixture foams, about 5 – 6 minutes.

2.  Measure out the flour, sugar and salt, whisk together and add to the yeast and milk mixture, turn the machine onto the lowest setting and knead on medium speed for about 5 – 10 minutes.  The dough should be elastic and smooth.  If the dough seems too sticky, add more flour, a tablespoon at a time or if too dry, add more liquid, a tablespoon at a time.

3.  Cover with a damp tea towel and allow the dough to sit in a warm place for 1 – 1½ hours until well risen and doubled in size.  The longer it sits the better the bread.

4.  Take out the dough, knead a little with the heel of your hands and work it into a ball.

plaiting the dough

5.  Divide the dough into four equal pieces, approximately 214g each.  Using your palms, and starting from the center and working outward, elongate 1 piece by rolling it gently against the work surface with even pressure until you have formed a rope approx 23-inches or 60-cm long.  Repeat with the remaining 3 pieces.

6.  Place two strands parallel to one another in a vertical manner. Weave one strand horizontally through the two vertical strands, placing it on top of the left-hand strand and underneath the right-hand strand. Do the same with the remaining strand, but weave it underneath the left-hand strand and on top of the right-hand strand. The strands should sit snug to each other, with no space in between, looking like a large plus sign. (Refer to the photos below and watch this video, it is more difficult to explain than it is to do.)

7.  Starting from the bottom of your plus sign, take the left-hand strand and cross it over the right one. Moving counter-clockwise, do the same for the remaining strands.

8. Now switch directions. Look at the very first strand you crossed at the bottom of your loaf (it should now be horizontal instead of vertical). Take what is now that strand’s right-hand neighbour and cross it over going clockwise. Do that with the remaining strands.

9. Keep switching directions until you have run out of dough to plait. You may have to stretch it a little to weave it all together.

10. Pinch the remaining dough together and tuck them under the loaf so it looks nice and neat. Transfer the braided loaf to the baking tray, brush with oil and sprinkle with black and white sesame seeds.

11.  Cover loosely with an oiled plastic wrap or a damp tea towel and set aside in a warm place to rise for 1½ hours.

12.  About 15 minutes before the dough has finished rising, preheat an oven to 180C/350F.  Remove the plastic wrap or towel and bake for 35 minutes, or until golden brown.  Allow the challah to fully cool down before cutting into it.

Shana Tova!

Update:

Here’s another way to make a round challah. Watch this video with very easy instructions. Divide the dough into three pieces and roll each strand into 65cm long and proceed.

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vegetable bath

5th September 2020

We first made this dish with Ganapathi Aarya in the Jivana Yoga Programme, after that I made it once or twice, and then it got tucked away forgotten. It was only when Lior made it one Wednesday after practice that I remembered how delicious it is. Now, it is a dish I make on a weekly basis. I cook the dal and rice separately to keep them fluffy and whole. This does mean you are using three pans for cooking; one for the rice, one for the dal, and then one for the vegetables. If wanting to keep it simple, soak the whole moong dal overnight and cook it with the rice the following day, as in the original recipe.

For serving, grated beetroot and carrot salad with a ginger-lemon-sweet dressing, and raita with dill and a finely sliced cucumber. Use a mandoline for grating the carrot and beetroot and for slicing the cucumber finely. A mandoline is such a useful tool to have in the kitchen, especially for putting together a quick salad. So much so that my son has asked to take one back with him to university!

Vegetable Bath is suitable for all constitutions – it is simple, nourishing and balancing.

Niyamas

“One of the niyamas is santoṣa – “contentment”. Many people are confused when trying to differentiate between contentment and happiness. Contentment is a feeling of satisfaction or completeness. Contentment arises from inside of us. It tends to have a lasting or enduring quality. Happiness is a feeling of pleasure or lightness that tends to be a result of some external reason and is usually fleeting.”

The Sacred Tradition of Yoga by Dr. Shankaranarayana Jois

vegetable bath

Preparation 45 minutes

Serves 3

All spice measurements are heaped unless otherwise stated.

ingredients 

¼ cup/50g whole moong dāl + 2 cups water

¾ cup/150g white basmati rice + 1¾ cups water

½ cup/40g dried shredded coconut

1½ – 2 heaped tsp sambar powder (moderately spiced)

flat tsp fine rock salt

1 tsp ghee

¼ cup coriander leaves, chopped

voggarane

⅓ cup/80ml peanut or coconut oil

½ heaped tsp black mustard seeds

⅛ heaped tsp asafoetida powder

⅛ heaped tsp turmeric powder

20 fresh curry leaves

3 cups/350g beans, carrot, capsicum

¾ cup water

½ flat tsp fine rock salt

preparation

1.  In a small saucepan, rinse the dāl, add 2 cups of water and simmer for 20 – 25 minutes, set aside.

2.  In a large-sized pan, wash the rice, drain, add 1¾ cups water, bring up to boil, then reduce heat to maintain a rapid simmer. Simmer, uncovered for 8 – 10 minutes or until water evaporates and the rice is cooked, turn off the heat. Cover, set aside for 10 minutes. Add the cooked dāl.

3. Cut vegetables into small uniform pieces and measure remaining ingredients.

voggarane

4.  In a skillet, over medium heat, add the oil and mustard seeds; when the seeds turn grey and pop, add asafoetida, turmeric powder and curry leaves, fry for a few seconds, add vegetables – mix well.

5.  Add water and ½ tsp salt, simmer uncovered until vegetables soften – 8 minutes, stir once or twice.

6.  To the rice and dal, add the vegetables, coconut, sambar powder, remaining salt, ghee and coriander. Combine well and serve.

serve

Twice a week, as a morning or midday meal, across all seasons.

variation

Using a pressure cooker; combine all ingredients including the vegetables, alongside the separately fried voggarane with 2 cups water. Cook for 3 whistles – set aside until the pressure has subsided.

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steamed green beans

19th August 2020

Lately, I been working in the garden in the mornings. I found that the sun is softer and the areas that need work are in the shadier parts at that time. Early this morning, I picked some green beans to go along with Monday’s Pepper Rasam. Later that morning I returned to the garden and started pottering around, feeding the plants with compost, and staking up a few bean bushes – to my surprise, despite thinking I had picked all the beans earlier, I found myself walking away with another handful. The thing with beans, and even cucumbers to a lesser extent, is that you really need time and patience when harvesting them. There is much happiness to be had in rummaging through the leaves in search of their elegant, dangling pods. Just when you think you have picked them all, there’s still more hiding behind their foliage. It’s important to approach the plant from different angles and heights, squatting down to their level, even then you can still miss a few…

I planted a few varieties of beans this season: romano pole bean, small french finger bush beans, and a long climbing snake bean. And for the first time, I planted another climbing variety in a pot on our balcony, so it can climb up the iron gate outside our kitchen door.

I have been staggering the sowing for a continuous supply, late May-early June, then another crop in July, and again in the last week of July. The hot season seems to come later each year, enabling another harvest just before the cooler weather hits by early November.

The better quality and fresher the beans, the better tasting this recipe. Serve with, pepper rasam, simple dal or pongal.

steamed green beans

Steaming beans, rather than boiling help keep their colour and flavour.

Preparation 10 minutes

Serves 3

ingredients

350g green beans

2 Tbsp ghee

freshly ground pepper

Himalayan salt

preparation

1. Wash the beans and trim the ends. Leave them whole or cut in half.

2. Set a steaming basket in a medium saucepan filled with 1 – 2 inches water, once boiling simmer over high heat for 5 – 7 minutes, depending on how tender or crisp you like them.

3. Discard the water in the saucepan.  Add the beans and ghee, season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Serve and enjoy!

other recipes using green beans

toor dal, mung beans, green bean and dill palya

vegetable bath

green bean palya

simple yellow dal with green beans and cabbage

summer garden palya

moong dal sambar with green beans

moong dal with garden greens

carrot and green bean rasam

green moong dal with Indian spices

a buttery herbed pilaf

bisi bele bath

Kristin’s Moroccan stew

gentle Indian spiced vegetable stew

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carrot-turmeric seeded rice bread (gluten-free)

12th August 2020

We had a very special guest this weekend, who was gluten-free, so it was a good opportunity to try Amy Chaplin’s gluten-free bread from ‘Whole Food Cooking Every Day’. This bread has a lovely moist crumb and leaves you feeling nourished and satisfied. It is very easy to make and goes nicely drizzled with olive oil and spread with homemade hummus.

The moist texture of this bread is the combination of soaked seeds and grains, rolled oats and psyllium husks.

Psyllium comes from the seeds of a herb called Plantago ovata that is mostly grown in India. When water is added to psyllium husks, they form a thick gel that helps bind the dough in this recipe.

note

  • Be sure to buy psyllium husks, they form a thick gel that helps bind the dough in these recipes.
  • Keep in mind you need to soak the seeds and/or grain overnight before making this bread.
  • This recipe is extremely versatile; if you don’t have one of the nuts or seeds, simply substitute whatever you have on hand. You can also omit the carrot and turmeric for a more neutral-tasting bread.
  • Store in an airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days or in the fridge for a week. The sliced bread freezers well.

 

carrot-turmeric seeded rice bread

Makes 1 – 11.5 x 21 cm loaf

Recipe from ‘Cooking Whole Foods Every Day’ by Amy Chaplin.

Pre-preparation 8 hrs

Preparation 20 mins

Baking 1hr 20 mins

ingredients

1½ cups/280g short-grain brown rice, soaked overnight

½ cup raw unhulled sesame, pumpkin, or sunflower seeds, soaked overnight with the rice (above)

1 cup/250ml water

1 cup/100g rolled oats

2 Tbsp/8g psyllium husks

1 Tbsp aluminum-free baking powder

3 Tbsp coconut or olive oil

1 tsp fine rock salt

2 tsp turmeric powder

2 medium/115g carrots, grated

black sesame, sunflower or pumpkin seed for sprinkling over loaf

preparation

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Line a 11.5 x 21 cm loaf pan with parchment paper, leave at least a 1-inch overhang. Set aside.

2. Pour the soaked rice and seeds into a large strainer and rinse. Place the strainer over a bowl and set aside to drain.

3. In a food processor, place the soaked rice and seeds, water, oats, psyllium husks, baking powder, oil, salt and turmeric powder – process until well combined and the grains are broken down but the mixture still has texture.

4. Add half the carrots and pulse until just combined, then add the remaining carrots and pulse to incorporate.

5. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan, making sure to spread it into the corners, sprinkle with sesame seeds or seeds of choice.

6. Bake for 40 minutes, then rotate the pan and bake for another 40 minutes, or until the edges of the bread are golden and have pulled away from the sides of the pan. Lift and cool on a wire rack. Be sure to cool the bread completely before slicing.

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lemon poppy seed cake (vegan)

15th July 2020

Moist, tender, full of lemon flavour and filled with nutty poppy seeds. It’s covered with a tart passion fruit glaze. Divine!

I made this on my birthday to put on the birthday table with flowers and lovely gifts the boys put together. And then, made it again the next day for a friends birthday. It was enjoyed by all!

lemon poppy seed cake

Preparation – 10 minutes

Baking – 40 minutes

Serves 10 -12

Based on the beloved spice cake.

ingredients 

1 cup + 2 tsp/130g whole spelt flour

1 cup/120g white spelt flour

¾ cup/150g light brown sugar

¼ cup/35g poppy seeds

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

½ tsp rock salt

½ cup/100g melted coconut oil

1¼ cup/280g almond milk

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

zest from 2 lemons

2 Tbsp/25g lemon juice

2 Tbsp vanilla essence

for the glaze 

1 cup/120g powdered sugar

20g passion fruit pulp (1 small passion fruit)

½ tsp lemon juice

preparation 

1.  Preheat the oven to 350F/180C.  Grease a ring pan or bundt pan well with oil, making sure to get every nook and cranny.

2.  In a medium bowl, add the flours, sugar, poppy seeds, baking powder, baking soda, and salt – whisk to combine.

3.  In another bowl, combine the coconut oil, nut milk, vinegar, lemon zest and vanilla – whisk until the ingredients are emulsified, then pour into the dry ingredients, whisking until all the liquid ingredients are absorbed. Don’t worry the batter will be quite wet.

4.  Pour the batter evenly into the greased cake tin. Place on a middle rack in the oven and bake for 40 – 45 minutes, or until golden and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Allow to cool completely before removing it.

5.   Make the glaze: place the sifted powdered sugar into a bowl and mix in the passionfruit and lemon juice, until you get a thick but pourable consistency.  Test the consistency by taking a spoonful from the bowl and drizzle back into the glaze; the drizzled glaze should leave a trail. If not, add a little more powder. Use a spoon or whisk to drizzle the glaze over the top, allow it to run over and down the sides. Before it sets, decorate with lemon zest or flowers. If desired and recommended, drizzle with more passionfruit pulp just before serving.

Enjoy with love, light and blessings!

variation

  • If making them into cupcakes, fill three-quarters full and bake for 35 minutes. Makes 14 cupcakes.
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caesar dressing & a quick caesar wedge salad

5th July 2020

I love a creamy dressing and using a greek style yoghurt achieves that creaminess. If using a plant-based yoghurt, find one that is thick and especially rich.  The sauce lasts for a week in the fridge and can be used as a dip for crunchy cucumbers or vegetable fries, spread over bread, drizzled over salads or roasted vegetables.

It’s in the quietness, the calm, the release and only then I realise how much I was holding…

caesar dressing

Makes approximately 1 cup.

Preparation 5 minutes

Recipes adapted from here.

ingredients

½ cup/85g full-fat greek yoghurt or plant-based yoghurt

¼ cup/50g olive oil

3 Tbsp/38g lemon juice

1 Tbsp nutritional yeast (can use grated parmesan)

¼ tsp tamari

½ – 1 tsp dijon mustard

1 Tbsp/15g liquid sweetener – honey, agave, maple syrup (optional)

¼ tsp fine rock salt

preparation

1. In a food processor or immersion blender, combine the yoghurt, olive oil, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, tamari, dijon mustard, sweetener and salt. Blend; until everything is combined and dressing is smooth and creamy.

2. Allow to sit for 5 minutes, taste and adjust the seasonings. Store the dressing in a lidded jar in the refrigerator.

quick & easy caesar wedge salad

Serves 3

Preparation 5 minutes

ingredients

6 small heads romaine lettuce, washed, dried, and cut in half, then half again lengthwise

1 serving caesar dressing (above)

extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling

1 cup croutons*

2 Tbsp pinenuts, toasted and roughly chopped

preparation

1.  Arrange the lettuce wedges on a medium plate, then sprinkle with pinenuts and croutons, drizzle the wedges with caesar dressing and olive oil.

2. Season with a few rounds of salt and pepper.

*stove-top croutons, heat 2 Tbsp oil or ghee in a skillet over medium heat until shimmering, add the bread cubes, sprinkle with salt, toss to coat, arrange in a single layer. Toss every minute or so, until golden on all sides – approx 5 minutes. Remove and allow to cool. 

variation

  • add ¼ cup parmesan flakes, shaved with a vegetable peeler
  • optional addition; avocado, grilled zucchini slivers
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apricot blueberry crumble tart (vegan)

24th June 2020

I love this crumble tart, it’s so easy to pull together, no pre-chilling the dough, no rolling and whatever filling you choose, it tastes amazing. The original gluten-free recipe can be found here, however, I prefer this version using whole spelt. The crust is crispy and crunchy, with the perfect balance of sweetness.

THE NATURAL CALL FOR QUIETNESS

If we systematically and intentionally allow our mind to abide in stillness every day, morning and evening, then our mind will naturally become relaxed. Soon we will discover the presence of a kind of spontaneous JOY emerging.

The Sacred Tradition of Yoga by Dr Shankaranarayana Jois

apricot blueberry crumble tart

Recipe from Cannelle et Vanille.

Preparation 20 mins

Baking 50 mins

Serves 8 – 10

tools

14 x 4.75-inch or 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom

base ingredients

1 cup/120g whole spelt flour

1 cup/100g almond flour

½ cup/100g light brown sugar

1 tsp fine rock salt

10 Tbsp/140g virgin coconut oil, not melted

2 Tbsp ice water

⅓ cup/25g flaked or slivered almonds

filling ingredients

¾ cup/100g blueberry, fresh or frozen

6 medium apricots/340g – halved and seed removed

zest from 1 orange

1 Tbsp fresh orange juice

2 Tbsp/25g light brown sugar

1 – 2 Tbsp tapioca or corn starch

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

preparation

1.  Preheat the oven to 180C/375F. Grease your tart mold.

prepare the base

2.  In a bowl, toss together the spelt flour, almond flour, sugar and salt. Add the coconut oil (solid) and work it into the flour using your fingertips until you have a dough that resembles coarse sand. The dough should clump up but feel slightly dry. Add 2 Tbsp ice water and mix it with your hands, it will feel more like a crumble than a dough.

3.  Take approximately two-thirds of the dough (approx 320g) and press it into your tart mold, bring it up around the edge. Try not to make the middle too thick. Any leftovers can be returned to the bowl.

4.  Mix the flaked almonds into the remaining dough to make the crumble topping. Refrigerate both the tart crust and the crumble topping while preparing the filling.

prepare the filling

5.  In a large bowl, toss together the blueberries, halved apricots, orange juice and zest, sugar, tapioca starch, and vanilla. If the filling is very wet, add 1 more tablespoon of tapioca starch.

6.  Add the fruit filling to the tart mold and sprinkle with the crumble topping, paying particular attention to fill the spaces close to the rim and around the apricots, leaving some of the pieces of fruit showing.

7.  Bake until the crust is golden and filling is bubbly, 45 – 50 minutes. Allow the tart to cool slightly before slicing.

variation

  • Replace apricots and berries with seasonal fruits.
  • gluten-free option: replace the spelt flour with 1 cup/140g superfine brown rice flour

helpful tip

  • Place a tray under the tart when baking to prevent leakage.
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light & cleansing – green gram tovve, carrot palya, white basmati rice

14th June 2020

I like to prepare this combination when my digestion (agni) is out of balance and in need of something soothing, light and clean.  Our agni is what allows us to digest our food, assimilate the nutrients and let go of waste. When our digestive fire (agni) is working properly our overall health is at its optimal, leaving our mind clear and calm and our body energized.

This is a combination which has balancing vegetables, cleansing qualities and supports the calmness and quietness of the body and mind. Carrots are naturally sweet, good for yoga practice and they brighten up any dish you add them to. Split moong is therapeutic due it’s soothing and balancing qualities.

Prepare this, either as a first meal mid-morning or as a light dinner.

the menu:

~

green gram tovve (yellow split moong dal)

Add finely chopped cabbage or chuchu towards the end of cooking.

carrot palya

Cut the carrot into small uniform cubes, instead of grating. When cooking, add a ¼ cup water and simmer uncovered until the water evaporates.

white basmati rice

To keep it light, and suitable for weaker digestion, serve with white rice apposed to brown. White rice is considered sattvic, which grounds and satisfies the mind.

Don’t forget to drizzle with 1 – 2 spoons of ghee to enhance the taste and aid digestion.

~

DIGESTIVE FIRE

“Our digestive fire is a combination of many secretions, including pepsin, hydrochloric acid, bile, and other enzymes. Because there are variations of those secretions throughout the day, our digestion may be weak, or even not work at all, if we eat at wrong times.”

~ The Sacred Tradition of Yoga – Dr Shankaranarayana Jois ~

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grounding & satisfying -whole moong with greens, grated beet & carrot salad, cucumber raita, round brown rice

6th June 2020

I have a little brown book the size of the palm of my hand where I write down combinations which have worked well and have become a weekly favourite. Whenever I lack inspiration in the kitchen, I refer to this little book.

I appreciate the aestheticism of things, so my cooking is very much inspired by this, also in terms of the colours I use. If I am using a lot of greens in one dish, like the dal used here, I add in bright colours which contrast nicely, like beetroot and carrot. This approach extends to the flavours, if the dal is spicy and strong, the accompanying dishes will be soft and light so that there isn’t competition between the dishes.

In the menu below, the dal is softly flavoured, so the spiciness of the ginger in the salad balances and enables the other dishes to shine.

The menu: 

~

whole moong dal with garden greens – two variations

Prepare the soupy version of this recipe, adding in whatever greens are in the garden or fridge. Usually fennel or celery, then leafy greens towards the end: fenugreek leaves, coriander, kale or spinach. In the image above, I used fennel, then added fenugreek and coriander leaves towards the end of cooking.

grated beetroot & carrot salad

Prepare a simple version of this salad, using only grated beetroot and carrot, toasted sesame seeds and lots of ginger in the dressing. If you have sunflower sprouts or small bitter leaves on hand, add a handful of those to sprinkle over the top.

round brown rice

You could use basmati, but there is something pleasing about the plump texture of this small round rice with the dal. Keep it slightly undercooked so it doesn’t turn to mush.

raita

yoghurt, salt, fresh dill

Don’t forget to drizzle with 1 – 2 spoons of ghee to enhance the taste and aid digestion. Having a strong digestion enhances every aspect of your life.

~

If you want to add more colour and texture, instead of serving the raita, crumble feta over the salad or slice an avocado decoratively. Ninety-five per cent of the time I keep it simple, without the addition of cheese or nuts, as the meal then becomes heavy on the system. The magic in this combination is that not only it tastes good but it is easy to digest which helps access the full nutrients and minerals of each of the ingredients leaving you feeling content, satisfied, brighter and lighter.

I hope this combination inspires, nurtures and nourishes you!

ENJOYMENT OF FOOD

“Eating food that tastes good to us is very important. Otherwise, we will not feel satisfied with our meal. The feeling of satisfaction brings balance to many emotions that are essential to a healthy human being. If we consume food that does not have the proper taste, there will be something lacking in our emotional state. Balanced emotions support us to enjoy both bhoga and yoga.”

~ The Sacred Tradition of Yoga – Dr Shankaranarayana Jois ~

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pizza dough

26th May 2020

This dough can be made on the day or can be refrigerated up to 3 days (the latter allows the dough to develop, creating more flavour and texture). I alternate between the two, depending on convenience.

notes 

  • Choose quality flour: flour is the main ingredient in pizza dough, so use high quality and high protein flour, all-purpose works fine but for better texture (in terms of hole structure), use bread flour or tipo “00”.
  • Lean towards a wetter dough: when mixing the dough, if in doubt, keep the dough on the wetter/stickier side, you will be adding more flour during the roll-out phase.
  • Cold ferment: as mentioned above, a cold ferment improves flavour and structure, after making the dough (step 2), keep in the fridge for 1 (minimum) to 3 days (ideal), then on the day of pizza making, take the dough out 3 – 4 hours prior to cooking and repeat as above (step 4).
  • Keep toppings simple: use quality ingredients and keep the toppings to 2-3 vegetables.
  • Crispy crust: invest in a baking stone, it holds a lot of heat, releasing it into the pizza as it bakes, giving it a crispier crust.
  • Hot oven: a very hot oven plays an important part in the finished result. Preheat the oven on the highest setting – generally 290C/550F, for at least 45 minutes – 1 hour.

pizza dough

Recipe adapted from Shir, with guidance here and here.

Makes 3 medium pizzas (enough for 3 – 4 people).

Active time – 90 minutes

Total time – 4½ hours

ingredients

1 tsp yeast

1 cup/220g water

2 Tbsp olive oil

2½ cups/340g bread flour/Tipo “00” or unbleached all-purpose flour

1 tsp salt

cornmeal or semolina, for cooking

preparation

1.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the yeast and water, allow it to sit for a few minutes for the yeast to activate.  Add the olive oil.

2.  Add the flour and salt, and with the dough hook attached turn the mixer on low, mix for 4 minutes. The dough should look sticky but still resemble a loose ball. If not, add a tablespoon of flour or water accordingly, it is safer to lean towards a wetter dough, you can always add more flour later on. When you touch it, the dough should be sticky on your hands. I leave it to sit in the bowl, however, if kneading by hand, transfer to an oiled bowl.

IF YOU WANT TO PREPARE THE DOUGH IN ADVANCE – at this step you can refrigerate the dough up to 3 days (see variation above). 

3. Cover and allow the dough to rise for 2 – 3 hours.

4. Cover a working surface with a generous amount of flour, gently shape into a rough rectangular shape and divide into 3 equal portions. Working with one portion at a time, gather the four corners to the centre. Turn seam side down and mold gently into a ball.  Dust with flour; set aside on work surface. Repeat with remaining portions.

5. Cover and let rise for 30 mins – 1 hour (preferable). Preheat your oven to the highest setting, 290C/550F with your pizza stone or baking tray in it. Prepare your toppings (see below).

6.  When ready to bake: cover a baking sheet with semolina/cornmeal and press down the dough, working from the centre outwards with your fingers to form a crown. Then, pick up the dough and stretch the dough between your knuckles, slowly enlarging the circle keeping a raised edge. This is a helpful video to watch, from 1 min onwards.  Avoid using a rolling pin because the pressure pops the bubbles. Leave the outer ½-inch untouched to keep the bubbles intact. Repeat with the remaining dough.

7.  Assemble your toppings: drizzle a little olive oil on top and assemble your toppings. I try to keep the topping to 2 – 3 vegetables. When finished, brush the outer edge with olive oil.

8.  Cook your pizza: In the preheated HOT oven, scoot the pizza (still with the baking sheet) onto the pizza stone or preheated baking tray. Bake for 8 – 10 minutes. After 2 minutes of baking, lift the dough and slide the baking paper off – but if you forget – no problem, the baking paper gets brittle where there is no pizza. 

favourite pizza toppings

  • finely chopped rosemary, tomato base (I use smaller quantities of this sauce), *torn strips buffalo mozzarella, sauteed red and green peppers, sauteed eggplant rounds. When it comes out of the oven, sprinkle with fresh oregano leaves and red pepper flakes.
  • olive oil, ¼ cup ricotta cheese, *torn strips buffalo mozzarella, ¼ cup basil pesto, grilled zucchini, finely chopped green olives, fresh basil leaves. When it comes out of the oven, sprinkle with ¼ cup grated parmesan and fresh basil leaves.

*to avoid a soggy pizza, place fresh mozzarella which has been sliced between paper towel sheets to absorb excess water – allow to rest for 15 minutes.

vegan 

to serve

  • a big green salad of arugula leaves, toasted pinenuts, shaved parmesan with a sweet balsamic and olive oil dressing.

Because of the hot oven, the cooking time is quick, so as one pizza comes out, the next one goes in and by the time you have finished the first pizza, the next one is ready!

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