Archive for the 'bread' Category

Pear, Caramelized Onion & Brie Pizza

Pear Brie Flatbread 2 585x383 Pear, Caramelized Onion & Brie Pizza

People often ask me what pizza dough recipe I use. The truth is, most formulas for pizza dough are the same – flour, yeast, water, olive oil and salt. The key ingredient not many recipes call for is time.

pear brie pizza 3 585x781 Pear, Caramelized Onion & Brie Pizza

Yeast doughs are a lot like people – the longer it’s alive before it’s baked, the more character it develops. Which means mixing up a batch of dough on Thursday if Friday is pizza night will make all the difference in the world. Let it hang out in the counter, on the fridge – wherever it won’t get into any trouble. Punch it down when it needs taming. The next day, you’ll see its potential in the stretchy bubbles interspersed throughout the dough. Which I apparently took no photos of, I was so preoccupied with the stretching and the topping. And the chilling of the wine – do you know this trick? Wrap a bottle in wet paper towel and put it into the freezer to chill fast.

(Just make sure it’s not in the vicinity of any bananas. Which in our freezer is impossible.)

pear brie flatbread 2 585x390 Pear, Caramelized Onion & Brie Pizza

Pear, Caramelized Onion & Brie Pizza

1 pkg. (2 tsp.) active dry yeast
pinch sugar
2 1/2 – 3 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. (or a good glug) olive oil
1 tsp. salt

canola or olive oil, for cooking
1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 ripe but firm pear, thinly sliced
4 oz. Brie, sliced
salt and freshly ground black pepper
extra-virgin olive oil

Put 1 cup warm water into a large bowl, add the sugar and sprinkle the yeast overtop; let stand for 5 minutes, until it gets foamy. Add 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour, the olive oil and salt and stir until you have a shaggy dough. Let rest for 20 minutes, then knead until smooth and elastic, adding more flour if you need it – the dough should be tacky, but not too sticky.

If you like, place the dough in an oiled bowl and turn to coat all over. Cover with a tea towel and set aside in a warm place – if you’re in a hurry, it only needs to wait for about an hour, until it’s doubled in bulk. If you have time, leave it. When it gets too big, punch it down. If you’re going out or to bed, cover it and put it in the fridge, which will slow the rise. Or freeze it. Take it out to thaw or warm up before you use it.

When you’re ready for pizza, heat a generous drizzle of oil in a medium skillet set over medium-high heat and sauté the onion for 5 minutes, or until soft and turning golden. Preheat the oven to 450F.

Divide the dough in half and roll or stretch each out into a 9-inch circle or oval. Place each on a parchment-lined or floured baking sheet and top with half the caramelized onions, half the pear slices and half the Brie. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, until deep golden. Let rest for a few minutes, then drizzle with honey before slicing.

Makes 2 pizzas; serves 12-16.

button print gry20 Pear, Caramelized Onion & Brie Pizza

January 28 2015 | appetizers and bread | 7 Comments »

Empress Scones

Empress Collage Empress Scones

The Fairmont Empress on the inner harbour in downtown Victoria is always stunningly beautiful – but it’s even more so in the fall, when the ivy-covered walls begin to change colour.

Screen Shot 2014 10 16 at 7.38.07 AM 585x585 Empress Scones

The Empress hosted the launch of In the Dog Kitchen yesterday with a tea paw-tea for dogs and their owners; it was a blast, albeit a rainy one. We had dog treats (Elvis’ bacon & peanut butter cakes! Turkey dinner doggie biscotti! Grrrranola bars!) made by the chef, and a photo booth with a wee replica of the Empress and little dog-sized fascinators, pearls, mink stoles, bow ties and vests for them to dress up with. So much fun. (My new iPhone won’t let me send photos from my phone to my computer to post here, but you can see all the evidence and hilarity on my twitter feed.)

The Empress Lawn Empress Scones

I love the big Fraggle Rock-esque trees on the front lawn.

Empress Collage Empress Scones

And what else do you do at the Empress in the afternoon but have high tea?

Empress tea 4 Empress Scones

Tea with milk, egg salad on tiny croissants, scones with strawberry jam and clotted cream.

Empress tea 1 Empress Scones

If you can’t find your own clotted cream (it’s difficult to find, and expensive for those tiny jars) you can make your own – but I prefer defaulting to crème fraîche, which is far easier to make.

jam cream Empress Scones

You’ll need a starter – buttermilk or good quality plain yogurt. Stir a heaping tablespoonful of it into 2 cups of heavy (whipping) cream, stir well, pour into a glass jar, cover with a lid and let it sit in a warm spot on the countertop overnight. That’s it. After 12-24 hours, it will have thickened into this wonderful, slightly tangy crème fraîche which you can serve right away or refrigerate until you need it.

Empress tea 2 Empress Scones

And if you can’t make it to the Empress, here’s the recipe for their famous scones.

Fairmont Empress High Tea Scones

4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 cup butter
3 Tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
3/4 cup raisins
4 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups heavy whipping cream

Preheat the oven to 350F.

In a large bowl, rub together (they say “crumb”) the flour, butter, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the eggs, raisins and cream, and mix until you have a smooth dough.

Roll out to one-half inch thickness and cut to desired size, brush with an egg wash (an egg beaten with a little water – this is optional – and you could always brush the tops with cream instead) and bake for 25-30 minutes.

Makes lots.

pixel Empress Scones
button print gry20 Empress Scones

October 16 2014 | bread and breakfast | 11 Comments »

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