WEEK SEVEN – ITALIAN WEEK
So, another first in the Bake Off tent, Italian week; “hurrah” for pizza, “oh my goodness” for the things with the layers and layers of super thin pastry and an “ohhhh, I’ve always wanted to have a go at them” for cannoli. I make pizza a lot, preferring them to the frozen supermarket ones and those from “British” pizza shops; as I love thin and crispy and chewy at the same time. Eventually (we are house building at present) I am going to have an outdoor kitchen which shall consist of a barbecue grill and a wood fire bread/pizza oven, I think it will be veritable pizza parties then. So, of course I had to do the pizza, which I have to say I did think was a bit of an easy technical for week 7 (although that was probably to outweigh the complexity of the sfogliatelle) but I did do something I rarely do, and sort of stuck to the proper recipes; so Margarita pizza and cannoli it was.
Bake one: Margarita Pizza
INGREDIENTS. to make 2 family sized pizzas 300g bread flour 1tsp fast action dried yeast 1tsp salt 1tsp sugar 250ml water (room temperature) 2tbsp olive oil (plus extra for greasing) 3-4 tbs tomato puree 1 clove garlic splash of red wine splash of water salt and pepper 1 large ball mozzarella handful fresh basil leaves
- Place the flour, yeast, salt, sugar and oil in a large bowl, making sure nothing is touching the yeast. Mix in most of the water and bring it together with your hands to form a dough, if it feels dry, add the rest of the water. You should have a slightly damp, sticky dough. Knead for about 5 minutes until smooth and pliable (on a greased board). Cover and set in a warm place for approx 1 hour.
- Once the dough has doubled in size, put the oven on at 220ºC.
- In a small bowl mix your tomato paste, garlic, wine and seasonings. Add splashes of water a little at a time until you have a paste that is neither thick and solid nor watery, just perfectly in the middle.
- Cover your work surface with flour mixed with fine semolina. Cut the dough in half, form into neat rounds and roll out to the size of your pizza stone, pizza baking sheet or baking tray. Put the dough on the tray before proceeding with the toppings.
- Using a dessert spoon, dollop 1/2 the tomato sauce in the middle and spread it out in a spiral to the edges of each base. Rip or slice the cheese and arrange around the pizzas.
- Spray water into the oven to create steam and put the pizzas in, near the top, for approximately 15 minutes. Remove once golden and just starting to ‘catch’ on top of the bubbles and edges. Leave to sit for 1-2 minutes and then scatter the basil on like petals. Slice into 8 triangles and eat whilst nice and hot.
TOP TIPS – Ok, make sure you don’t have that tomato sauce too thin or it will make the base of your pizza raw like and soggy (no soggy bottoms here please!). Be very gentle when rolling out your dough or you will knock out all its air, that’s way tossing and turning it is a good thing as it will help the rise; do it if you a. feel confident and don’t have too low a ceiling and b. don’t care too much if it is not truly round. If you put the basil on the base too soon it will blacken up a wee bit, hence why leaving it to stand for a minute or 2 when it comes out of the oven. When prepping the dough balls, I like to turn and tuck the dough under itself a few times, as I think that this helps it ‘push’ itself up from underneath when cooking.
Honestly I think Margarita pizzas are ok, but I prefer a bit of meat and proper cheese with mine so, I made just one of them and one fully, and I do mean fully, loaded pizza, nom nom nom.
Bake Two: Coconut Cannoli
Again I did not want to stray too far from traditional, my original plan being amaretto and almond cannoli, however, it seems that someone has drunk my almond liquor so upon investigation of the booze cupboard, next best alternative was Malibu and hence coconut! It was only after I had done an internet search for recipes for the cannoli dough that I realised, there was one flaw in my plan, you need tubes to form them around! Phone call to Mr Timothy with an idea for copper or ali tubing and he found me three 1″ stainless pipes that were clean and unused. It did the job if not making the cannoli a little fat and chunky.
The ingredients are (for approx 20): 2 cups flour 1tbsp coconut sugar (or regular castor) good pinch salt good pinch of cinnamon 2 tbsp butter 2 eggs yolks (retain some of the white) ½ cup white wine 1 250g tub ricotta 1 250g tub mascarpone 1 cup icing sugar 2 tbsp Malibu ¹⁄3 cup desiccated coconut ½ cup chocolate chips
The recipe is:
- In a large bowl place the flour, sugar, salt and cinnamon and stir them together with a fork. Add the butter and rub well into the flour mix.
Add the yolks and then the wine and bring together to form a firm dough, knead for about 1 minute. Cover and place in the fridge for around 30 minutes.
- Make the filling by creaming together the 2 cheeses, sift in the icing and whip it into the cheese, then add the liquor, coconut and chocolate chips and stir. Cover and put in the fridge.
- Heat a deep fat fryer to 170ºC, with fresh vegetable oil in. Lightly oil your cannoli pipes (do this each time you use them) and get a bowl of ice water ready.
- Roll out the dough as thin as you dare (it is quite elastic and forgiving) and cut out large circles with a biscuit cutter. Cover these with a piece of cling film to
avoid them drying out. Wrap a dough circle around each pipe and stick the outside edge down with a little of the retained egg white.
- Very carefully place each tube into the hot oil and fry for 1½-2 minutes until golden brown. Remove and drain on a cooling rack with a tray underneath. Using 2 pairs of tongs, gently remove the cannoli tube from the pipe and place the pipes into the iced water.
- Continue with the last step until all the tubes are fried. Turn off the fryer!
- Put the filling into a piping bag fitted with a large star nozzle (it must be around twice the size of the chocolate Chips or it will clog. Fill the tube from the middle out on one end then turn and repeat, this will ensure that the pipes are full of the cream cheese. Decorate with a little icing sugar.
TOP TIPS: Don’t put too much liquid in the cream cheese as it will make it sloppy. Fill and eat the tubes on the day you intend to eat them as they go soft real quick. Don’t bother and go buy them from an Italian Deli! They are way too much faff for something that is honestly only ok. I’d rather have pizza!
At least I was pleased to see plenty of the required bubbles in the cooked pastry and they are surprisingly ‘dry’ and crispy considering they are deep fried.
So that’s this weeks’ homage to the Great British Bake Off. If you would like to see some of the other bakes or even join in with them, it’s never too late, follow this link to our host site Mummy Mishaps.