Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Italian Cheese Bread

This is actually the dough I use for homemade pizza, too, but it makes a delicious flatbread with the addition of a few spices.

When we're not feeling the urge to be healthy, I generally use all-purpose flour, but you can substitute whole wheat for some of the flour, and the addition of a little gluten will increase the chewiness of the crust .
-2 and 1/2 cups flour (*More if desired; see below)
-1 tsp. salt
-1 tsp. sugar
-1 tbsp. yeast
-1 cup warm water
-1 tbsp. oil

1. Combine salt, sugar, yeast, then add water and oil. Let sit for proofing ('til frothy on top).

2. Mix yeast mixture with flour. Turn onto floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. (*At this point, I usually work more flour--at least 1/2 cup-- into the dough as I knead.)

3. Place in greased bowl, cover, and let rise in warm place until doubled in size. Punch down and pat into a roughly 12" circle on pizza pan or cookie sheet.

4. Add toppings and bake in 425 degree oven for about 15 minutes OR do as I do. At this point, if I've planned ahead of time, I cover the dough with plastic wrap and leave it in the refrigerator for about 6 hours or up to 24 hours. The flavor improves greatly, and I like the texture better, as well. This last step really is the key reason for my liking this dough.

Make this crust and, before baking, top it with 1/4-1/3 cup prepared Italian salad dressing, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. garlic powder, 1/4 tsp. oregano, 1/4 tsp. thyme, dash pepper, 1 tbsp. parmesan/romano cheese, and enough shredded mozzerella to satisfy the cheese need.

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