Paprika Recipe Manager

A few years ago there were three binders full of recipes that I might like to try and that I have tried and liked. I also had a folder full of recipes on my hard drive. I endeavored to organize them. I choose my favorites and made a website in iWeb, not really thinking much about the Copyright issues. Although I didn’t promote my site, I did point people to specific recipes when someone asked what my favorite “X” recipe was. That site is still around, but hasn’t been updated in years.

After the website came Evernote. It was a good place to clip recipes that I might want to make. I also gathered the ones on my hard drive into it. This was convenient for the syncing across devices. However, it wasn’t designed as a recipe specific app. Then I found Paprika Recipe Manager. Paprika is now on my Mac, my iPad and my iPhone. It’s not free, but I think it’s worth every penny. It can auto-import from many well known recipe sites and manual import is very easy. The apps all sync together. It took me a while to import all my current favorites and “To Try, Have Not Made” recipes. But now that I’m current, adding new recipes I might like to try is easy. I also have all my recipes with me at the grocery store so that I can check ingredient lists. Paprika also will make grocery list and has a calendar for planning. It’s very feature rich and I don’t make use of some of them often enough.

I really love this suite of apps. If you’re looking for recipe organization I highly recommend this product line.

Tartine Bread-Lékué Bread Baking Bowl

312RoNM7GULLong languishing way down my Amazon Wishlist was this Lékué Silicone Bread Maker. I don’t remember where I first saw it. But when I did I thought about how it would surely help bake “freeform” loaves of bread recipes whose dough tend to the wet side of things. I’ve had some loaves flatten out like flying saucers before. There’s a lot to learn in bread baking and I’m fairly successful, but some doughs elude me. There’s gluten development and surface tension development. Both help stop the dreadful spread. However, the Tartine Bread recipe is one that even following all the directions I’ve had trouble with. I’ve tried it several times before and often it spreads and flattens out when deposited on the baking stone.

So, this Xmas Howard got the bread baking silicone for me. I’ve used it twice and I have to say it sure does solve the problems of a wet dough. Yesterday I baked the Tartine Bread in it. My loaf is up top. The baker did stop the spread and since steam stays in the crust is nice and crunchy. The house was cool yesterday and the dough wasn’t progressing so I took some shortcuts. I ended up with and acceptable loaf with a good crust, but lacking those big holes of air usually seen in this bread. The long ferment though means that the dough got that signature sour flavor. Which I really realize I’m not a huge fan of. I don’t know what’s happened, but I no longer care for sourdough much.

I would recommend this baker for anyone who’s afraid to make freeform loaves. It may be a bit of a crutch, but any tool that helps solve problems in the kitchen is fine by me. I use a silly zippered pie crust rolling bag. It works and helps me keep from adding too much flour to the crust. A true chef might think it inexcusable to use, but I don’t care. Whatever works.

Baking Steel

I purchased what I thought would be my final pizza stone a few years ago. It was very thick and very heavy. It should have lasted for as long as I would have it. But alas it slowly cracked and a few months ago finally broke into two. It was still usable, but the crack was right in the middle and the two pieces would magically migrate apart.

About this time I was hearing about a product called a Baking Steel. A heavy sheet of steel that would conduct heat better than a stone, thus providing you with a superior crust. Gail of One Tough Cookie got one and raved about how good her pizza was turning out. I hemmed and hawed for a couple of months and then finally ordered one for myself.

The first two times I used it was for bread. Using the pizza stone for years I was resigned to not getting the really brown bottom crust on my freeform loaves. The Baking Steel changed that! Both loaves had beautiful brown bottoms and they were crunchy. See the loaf to the left. The other thing I noticed was that I got a bit better oven spring on the loaves.

So, onto pizza, finally after having the steel for a while. I made the dough with Italian “00” flour and that recipe makes for a very stretchy dough that you can make very thin and it turns out crisp. I preheated the oven at 500°F for 45 minutes as directed. The rack it is on is in the upper third of the oven, so I turned the broiler on for a couple of minutes and then back to bake right before sliding the pizza in.

I kept an eye on the pizza and it probably took about 7 minutes to cook. The crust was CRUNCHY! There were air bubbles and it was cooked evenly all over. It was an Emeril Legasse recipe for Duck Confit Pizza. It was good, but lacking some zing. It was better leftover today than last night. I don’t think I”d make that recipe again. But I will make my take on it: no potatoes, more cheese, a good amount of chopped rosemary. The picture is up top.

So, if you want some really crispy thin crust pizza at home I can heartily recommend a Baking Steel.

Here’s the recipe I follow for the dough:

Neopolitan Pizza Dough          Servings: four 8″ pizzas

1 1/2 cups warm water (105-115°)
1 t. instant yeast
4 cups Italian “00” Flour
1 T. sea salt

Mix everything together in a stand mixer using the dough hook. Knead until it’s glossy and smooth. This will take 10 – 20 minutes. If it’s not coming together because it’s too wet, add a a little more flour. If it’s too dry add some water.

Place the dough in lightly oiled container with a lid or a bowl with some plastic wrap. Be sure to turn the dough once to coat it with the oil.

Let rise 4 hours in a warm place.
Or, place it in the fridge until an hour before you’re ready to use it. It will keep in the fridge for several days.

Cut the dough into 4 pieces or for larger pizzas make just 3.

Stretch, shape or even roll out the dough with a rolling pin on a floured board. This dough stretches easily without tearing. Top and bake.

I was not compensated for this post. It’s just my opinion.

Einkorn Flour Bread

Have you heard of this ancient wheat variety called Einkorn? Yeah, I hadn’t either until a few months ago. Now, I cannot even remember where I read about it. It was certainly in the context of gluten intolerance which has been everywhere lately.
Einkorn was domesticated about 7500 BC. That’s 1500 years before pottery. The berries are tiny compared with today’s hybridized wheat. Einkorn has 14 chromosomes, modern wheat has 42, so that changes the gluten structure. It’s also higher in protein, essential fatty acids, phosphorous, potassium, pyridoxine, and beta-carotene. Some claim it’s much easier to digest and may be tolerated way better than modern wheat by gluten sensitive people.

At the Berkeley Bowl last week I saw this flour available in the Jovial brand and thought I’d give it a try. It’s quite expensive as flour goes, but well worth trying. I used the Il Fornaio Bread Cookbook’s Pagnotta recipe as a guide.

Having now made two loaves, it does make a nutty flavorful, yellowish loaf. It toasts up nice and crunchy. It also holds well without molding. I really like the bread it makes, but it’s not so far superior as to induce me to switch from the really wonderful Central Milling Organic Artisan Bakers Craft Flour I get at Costco. If you have a gluten sensitivity, give it a try.

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I was not compensated for this post. It’s just my opinion.