“Do Not Ask for Whom the Dough Rises…”

It’s been almost a month since I had pizza last! That doesn’t seem incredible, but once upon a time, that was my business and I ate it everyday. I even had a hand in inventing and crafting some strange, if not “otherworldly” pizzas in the storied past…

Those days are gone, now. And today, after talking about pizza for a great while yesterday, the cravings set in. I meant to make a simple, if not “standard” pizza dough, but I couldn’t leave well enough alone. Instead of 3c* of AP flour, which is normal, I guess, I went straight for the 100% Whole Wheat Stuff (actual brand-name [not true!]) in the 2c range, then augmented with a little over a cup’s worth of rye flour, buckwheat flour (< majority), and three large spoonfuls of milled flax seed.
*c = cup

That’s a lot of crap, but it translates into chewy, little tangy (< rye), somewhat nutritious dough, though this is the first time I’ve used buckwheat flour in pizza dough. Fast Rise yeast, too, which means that by dinnertime (no refrigeration), the yeast will have given and risen and died. In case you’re curious, the “ingredient” that helps the yeast live and act so quickly is vitamin C. Ah. For any dough rising (even in the refrigerator) for any period greater than 8hrs, I use Active Dry yeast, since it lives a little longer and has more time to “deepen” flavor of dough.

For a brief second, my intentions were good. I was hoping to test (I should probably just start over) a simple pizza dough recipe that I can include in the “Pizza Cat” book. Even if the publisher doesn’t want it (and/or the other pizza-related recipes), it would still be nice to have ready to go. Certainly easier than having to BS something that might not actually work or taste good. And yes, for whole sale reason, that recipe won’t be rife with “experimentation,” though, true to the story, it will contain some “secret” of Dad’s (< like 1c whole wheat flour).

When I feel comfortably crazy enough that my time can be spent away from my story, the cinnamon roll recipe is the next thing. Not for any reason other than to make it, in that same venture, I plan to learn to grow and harvest my own starter, which in turn, I hope will help give my cinnamon rolls that sour pungency that I seek by leaving the dough out all the day. (Also without resorting to sour-mash whiskey, though that monster will be its own dough someday.)

If any thing, making and rolling dough of any kind is always a wonderful excuse to scrub ‘n’ scour the kitchen counter.

But, back to the point, the dough I made today for pizza’s sake is a high-protein (thanks to 100% whole wheat flour AND the flax seed) mix, which I’m hoping with mushrooms, maybe some sesame seeds, walnuts or peanuts, spinach, etc., I should have enough stuff to give me what I need by way of all those amino acids.

As for pizza sauce, I’m not sure I’ll be going that route, electing for oil and lots of garlic. I may make some for grandma’s pizza, which will just be a traditional pizza (though on the same healthy crust), or whatever I’m having, plus pepperoni. I’m playing it by ear, I just couldn’t settle down when I opened the cabinets and there was all this other flour… and I thought more “It’ll add flavor!” than “I need this for protein since it’s a vegetable pizza!” Both are true.

The high protein made the dough dry, though I bet the buckwheat helped there. Since I already wasn’t sticking to the recipe at all, I shoulda used milk instead of water to bloom the yeast, but … sometimes it be like that. I kept applesauce out of it, at least (we don’t have any in the house). I adjusted as necessary but measurements were gone by this time. I added some black pepper in the with salt… just because.

It’s tough dough. The yeast has its work cut out for it, and after a bit when I go to check on it, I may let it do its final rise (in a rough pizza shape) in the oven with a hot water bath. It will help moisten it out a little, plus encourage a little extra height… If I do that pre-cooking, it won’t rise at all during baking since it will have risen all it’s gonna. It’s one less worry.

Rolling out the dough will be tricky. There isn’t a lot of room and I only have square pans to use as a mold. I want to go -light- on the cheese, since that stuff is expensive and I don’t have the easy access to a nice blend anymore. I can fake it pretty well, but it’ll end up being waaaaay cheaper to get a pre-mixed shredded variety bag and add some Parmesan to that. It’s just as much about budgeting as it is for health.

And so, I’m going the mushroom route as I stated. Hopefully, there’ll be some on sale so I can nab a variety… If not, I’m throwing my money at something that’ll last all week and can be shared with grandma, so… uh, portobellos if you’re keeping track at home.

If I can get a variety, portos and shiitake, but that’s because that’s what my Kroger’s sells by way of “exotic.” I’m looking forward to it. Since I haven’t had a greasy, cheesy, pizza in a while, it’s like a return to … my roots? Something. The whole process of making a pizza is simple, why I’m pretty sure a child could do it, and so on. Plus, master the basics and you can make almost anything with it.

It’s that same enthusiasm I have for my future cinnamon rolls. My recipe in that area is a disaster, but mostly because I don’t know how to make them. That seems odd to say, but there’s a lot of technique involved that I would never have guessed. Best example, I had my “Eureka!” moment while watching some guy on TV flip his baked cinnamon rolls upside down to de-pan them. Of course! I haven’t made any since I saw that, but the hastily scribbled note shows how excited I was to learn.

I’ve also learned that you can add cinnamon and sugar to the dough itself (beware!), so the filling doesn’t have to play such a role. That’s where I struggle, most of my filling always falls out. I know that’s because I do the 8-24hr rise in the fridge and there’s plenty of time for it to ooze downward. Alternatively, I guess my option there is to rise the dough as much as possible FIRST so that there’s only one good rise left in it. Fill it, roll it, slice it, pan it, rise it, bake it, flip it.

Minimal time for stuff to shift there. Coupled with turning them over, that may help a lot. I learned how to make caramel the last time I made cinnamon rolls. That seems odd to say, but since all my filling came out, I had all that stuff in the pan, so I scraped it out, added some fruit (cooked banana and pear)… some “low-fat” cream cheese (< I don’t know why) and peanut butter, honey, oh, and unsweetened applesauce and probably other stuff…, then made a little more caramel to help mix/mash it all together. It was good, I remember that.

I have all that in my notes, a tasteful way to get the sweetness back into the rolls when all the filling melts out… Though, now, I’m armed with the knowledge that I can flip them over and all that gooey stuff will be on top!

Since apples are somewhat cheap and plentiful, they’ll be my standards in the starter. I guess my plan is to get a few, pulverize them in the blender, probably, strain the juice ‘n’ such, and let that ferment with the whole wheat flour and water to attract the wild yeast. I admit, I’ve done no research on this other than the most passing of glances, but I’m excited!

When my writing habit is developed (and I can feel that growing! What an experience that is!) it may be easier, if not altogether necessary, to devote a little time to something else. Cinnamon rolls may not be the healthiest thing, but … at the very least, with a constant starter growing, I’ll have plenty of practice.

I even had an idea for a doughnut, but I have absolutely no way of actually frying one of those. Which may not be totally true, a deep pan-fry… I guess in the same way that there are “cheat day” I could have a “fry day” and invite some of my idiot friends. There’s plenty of stuff I haven’t fried before and, you know, if I’ve already got the oil going…

Ah, but what elaborate food-based thoughts for the future.

Yesterday ended up being my off day, so today, pizza aside, there must be progression. I managed to write enough bridge to know that I need more! Or, in this particular case, a (small) scene in Justin’s room as he packs. I never intended this at first, but of course it must be present. But, having not planned or thought of it, I have no idea what to do there, or what kind of objects can be used for what kind of memories. For poignancy, Dad has to be a part of at least one memory, though the entire room was decorated by Dad, in the sense that the walls have been painted in light shades of blue. They get darker, growing into grays and finally the ceiling black and covered in those glow in the dark stars. The ceiling fan, of course, is the sun or moon or whatever, and I can safely say that there’s probably some comets, planets, or galaxies painted on the ceiling, too, maybe even with Christmas lights. Naturally, green carpet (to resist spillage!) for the grass.

Yes, Dad’s a creative individual, he built custom rooms for his kids based on their request. Katie, first, a lovely desert oasis, cushions, pillows, the sofa-bed, drapes, surfaces… pinks, purples, reds, blue accents and so on. Then Justin’s “night sky” as described above.

So you can see, I had the idea to include the “room scene” because I had gone through all the trouble of detailing these rooms. It would be sad not to use that in any way… And of course I’m also a big propagator of creating something to express oneself, all my written words attesting to.

I don’t necessarily have to do the room scene today. I made a note of it and whatever thought(s) I had that may help, but as it is, I managed to make it all the way to today’s foray, which is the garage sale and nights of… it does seem like a little “rushed” to get there, I don’t know. That’s what I hope the room scene would help.

I don’t have anything written or in mind for the garage sale scene(s), so I’ll just have to see what sort of things can come out of that. In retrospect, today’s exercise could have been just that, some instances (with/without dialogue) that could happen. At least the garage sale is in the outline! Though, I’m discovering that the outline represents only about 30% of what is actually written, no matter how “detailed” I might think that it is.

Ah, but I’m making progress. So far, there’s about 60pgs to the manuscript, which is about 11 more than “the Lion Bros.,” the previous contender for work. And I made it that far in months on that (read: “a year”), in the case of “Pizza Cat,” it’s taken me about a month-and-a-half. It’s what planning, or at the very least, being organized can do!

As for pushing a little harder, well, that’s the thing I’m working on now. But, as I said above, I can feel the new writing habit starting to form. I try to get something done each day and that’s begun to be built in. Or, I’m getting to the point where it’s “What can/will I work on today?” my mind already set to begin when I wake up.

The early morning remains my refuge for production, and so I must get to it. Good luck out there!

-j.

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