I’ve only been seriously cooking/baking for a short amount of time – roughly 6 months. And in that time, I’ve tried my hand at quite a few things – making stock from scratch, oodles of pies/tarts/cakes,  fancy french desserts, roasting big honkin’ cuts of meat and all manner of candies. But there’s one area from which I’ve consistently shied away and it’s becoming obscene that I haven’t jumped in yet… breads. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense since I love, Love, LOVE making pastries and delicate little sweet bready items. But for some reason, breads have darkly loomed on my epicurean horizon. Mostly, I just don’t understand yeasts. So, of course, I’m determined to get better…

So here we go… taking the plunge, head first, into breadmaking. First stop: Mushroom, Sausage & Spinach Pizza.

When making pizza dough, first thing’s first… yeast! Started out with 1 cup of warm water (between 105F and 115F).

Poured it into a large bowl along with 1/4 oz active dry yeast, 1 TBSP olive oil and 1 tsp honey…

And let it set for about 5 minutes until foamy.

Foamy!

Added 1.5 cups all-purpose flour and 1 tsp salt.

Then you have to mix. Being a novice, I used my hands (!!!), which proved to be unbelievably sticky and rendered me incapable of handling the camera, so S had to help me out a little! Since then, I’ve invested in a $1 plastic scraper and it’s helped immensely!

Continue adding the remaining 1.25 cups of flour and .5 cup parmesan cheese in quarter cup increments.

Mix, mix, mix!

Until… Yay!

At this point, the dough will hold together, but it’s still pretty sticky. So I just kneaded it for 3-5 minutes on a lightly floured surface until it was lookin’ real fine.

Then I just plopped the little dough ball into a big stainless bowl lightly coated in 1 TBSP of olive oil, covered the bowl with plastic wrap and set it in a warm place to rise for about an hour and a half.

I’ve worked with dough before and had it not rise, which is beyond devastating. But I’ve learned a trick! While you’re working on your dough, turn on the oven to its lowest setting, 175F or so. A few minutes before you’re ready to leave the dough to set, turn off the oven. The closed oven keeps the temperature tempered, so your dough will be safe. It totally worked!

Lightly floured the work surface again and began to shape my dough into a giant rectangle. I was just so pleased that the dough actually rose, that I didn’t want to risk messing with it too much, so a simple rectangle was the best I could muster.

Shaped.

Sprinkled a little cornmeal (polenta, actually… but what’s the diff?) on a baking sheet and transferred my dough.

Brushed the dough with a little olive oil and into the oven it went. 425F until puffed and golden, which was about 15-20 minutes.

Mmm… time for toppings!

Browned a little italian sausage…

Then added some sliced brown mushrooms and about 3 cups or so of fresh spinach. Sautéed the vegetables along with the sausage until the spinach was wilted and the shrooms were a bit softened.

Sprinkled the sausage & veggie mixture over my parbaked pizza dough…

And topped with mozzarella and shaved parm! Then I popped it all back into the oven at 425F for 12-15 minutes.

And bam! Ooey, gooey Mushroom, Sausage & Spinach Pizza!

Delish!

Recipe adapted from Emerill & RealSimple

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