Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Pizza Twist Bread

I'm so excited to be writing a sponsored post for Red Star Yeast. There are very few products where I'm even "mostly" brand loyal, but with Red Star, I'm 100 percent a fan. I buy the stuff in 1- or 2-pound bags, and it's the brand I always use. So it's pretty easy to say, yeah, I like you enough to post about you.

I adore the Platinum yeast when I'm making something that has the potential for a slow rise, like rich or sweet doughs. The only thing I don't like about the Platinum is that it's currently only available in packets, and I go through so much yeast that I need to buy in larger quantities.

Active dry and instant are my go-to yeasts for everyday breads. Okay, now that the book is done, I'm not actually baking bread every day. More like 3-4 times a week. But I think that's enough. I'm guessing it's more than the average household.

If you're ever curious about how to use one the type of yeast you have on-hand when a recipe calls for something else, check out this yeast conversion post from Red Star. And then bookmark it!.

As far as this particular recipe, I made a bread similar to this - at least as far as the design - last year to use up some leftover Thanksgiving cranberries. But that was a sweet bread. I decided that it would work just as well for a savory bread, and I decided to use pizza-like flavors.

I thought about adding some Italian sausage to this, but I knew that I'd be eating most of this at room temperature rather than warm. So I left the meat out and just included tomatoes, cheese and oregano - three flavors that are common in pizza.

The really neat thing about this bread is that it's so versatile. You can slice it into wedges, or you can pull it apart. You can eat it warm or at room temperature. If you want it warm, you can reheat it gently to warm and melt the cheese. You can slice it horizontally to make sandwiches. It's good or breakfast, lunch. or dinner.

And it's pretty. The design is very attractive, but it's not immediately obvious how it's made. Which is the best part. People will look at it and ask, "How did you DO that?" And you can just smile mysteriously, because you know how easy it really is.

Pizza Twist Bread

1 cup water
1 large egg
2 1/4 teaspoons (1 package) Red Star active dry yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup (3 ounces) semolina flour
3 cups (13 1/2 ounces) bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 ounces sundried tomatoes (the ones in a bag, like dried plums), chopped*
6 ounces shredded cheese**
1 tablespoon dried oregano

Combine the water, egg, sugar, flours, salt, and olive oil the the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the dough hook. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic.

No stand mixer? Just mix in a bowl until combined, then finish kneading by hand.

Add the sundried tomatoes and knead just until they are evenly distributed in the dough.

Cover the bowl and set aside to rise until the dough has doubled in size, about an hour.

Flour your work surface lightly and turn out the dough. Divide in half. Form the first half into a ball, then flatten to form a disk about 10 inches in diameter. You can use a rolling pin, or just stretch and pat and pull it into shape. Try for an even thickness.

Sprinkle the cheese on top of the dough, leaving about an inch around the edge uncovered. Sprinkle the oregano on top of the cheese.

Form the second piece of dough into a disk just like you did with the first piece, and lay that on top of the cheese-covered dough. Pinch all around the edges to seal. Press down on the dough to encourage the cheese to adhere to the dough.

Transfer this to the center of a piece of parchment paper. Use your hands to shape it into an even circle.

Place a small ramekin or small drinking glass in the center of the dough. This will serve as your stopping point when you begin cutting the dough. Make four cuts in the dough as though you were cutting an X in the dough if the ramekin wasn't there. Cut all the way through the dough.

Now, make four more cuts, centered between the first ones you made. You should now have eight fat strips of dough.

Make eight more cuts centered between the ones you already made.

Now comes the fun part. Take one of the strips and twist it one full turn. Don't pull, just twist. Take the next strip and twist it one full turn in the opposite direction. Continue all around the circle, twisting right and left, alternately, until you have twisted all the dough strips.

Slide the parchment onto a baking sheet and use your hands to even up the circle. Make sure you've got at least an inch of space between the dough and the sides of the baking sheet.

Cover the baking sheet and let the dough rise until doubled, about 30 minutes. If you have a second baking sheet of the same size, you can flip that upside-down and use that as the cover.

While the dough is rising, heat the oven to 350 degrees.

When the dough has risen, bake at 350 degrees until it's nicely browned and the exposed cheese is melted.

Remove from the oven and let it cool on a rack for a short while - that cheese is molten hot.

You can serve this warm or at room temperature.

*Or do what I do, and buy the ones that are julienned. They're the same price as whole ones where I shop.

** I used 4 ounces mozzarella, and one ounce each of asiago (for flavor) and colby (for color). Use your favorites, or use what you have on hand. This is a great recipe for using up bits and pieces of assorted cheese.

This post was sponsored by Red Star yeast. You can find them on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter. They also have a pretty spiffy Pinterest page whether they share a lot of fun recipes.