Monday, March 12, 2012

dressed-up pizza-dough bread

Back when my dad had his restaurant, he would bring home pizza dough and bake bread with it. I remember my grandpa loving it, and I did, too. I don't love baking, but I do appreciate a good loaf of Italian bread. Starting with a pizza dough from Publix ($1.99 in the refrigerated bakery case, y'all) takes the mess out of the whole shebang, and there's pretty much no limit to the combinations of fillings you can stuff into these loaves.
"Homemade" garlic and black olive loaves.

pizza-dough bread

  • 1 ready-to-bake (not frozen) pizza dough, from your grocery store's bakery
  • unbleached white flour
  • olive oil
  • fillings, such as chopped black olives, sautéed onions, fresh or roasted garlic, sundried tomatoes, parmesan, sesame seeds, herbs, salt + pepper, and any combination of these and etc. In other words, go wild. 
Dust a baking sheet with flour before you get going, then set it aside. Flour your countertop or a breadboard and stretch out the fresh pizza dough - carefully - into a rectangular shape.

Mix together your filling ingredients in a little teacup (of course) with a couple of TBSP olive oil and some salt + pepper. If you're using parmesan or another cheese, go light on the salt or leave it out altogether. You want about a cup of filling.

Spread the filling on the center of the dough, being careful not to get oil on the outer edges (leave about an inch all around), and then roll up the long edge to make a tube shape. pinch the edges all together, and move the loaf to the floured baking sheet with the seam side down.

Slash a few stripes or x's into the top of the loaf (not too deep, they get bigger), and sprinkle some sesame seeds on top if you like them. Dust a little bit of flour on top, cover with a tea towel, and let the dough rise for a couple of hours (or more, depending on the temperature of your kitchen).

When the dough looks bread-loaf sized, preheat the oven to 350°F, and bake about a half-hour, or until the bread is brown and toasty. Tap the loaf with your fingers when you think it's done - the bread should sound hollow. If it's not done, but is browning too fast, cover the loaf loosely with foil and continue baking.

Cool on a cake rack until it's  touchable, then slice it up and eat it fast, because if your house is like mine, it won't be around for long.

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