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Recipe: Pizza Napolitana

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Pizza Napolitana
This is a specialty of Naples, Italy.

1 1/4 cups lukewarm water
1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
2 envelopes dry yeast
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup olive oil
2 cups pizza sauce
1 pound mozzarella cheese, grated
1/2 cup freshly-grated Parmesan cheese
Additional toppings of your choice

Combine 1/4 cup of the warm (not hot) water with the sugar and yeast in a small bowl and stir gently to dissolve. Allow to proof in a warm place for 5 minutes.

Sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl. Add the yeast mixture, the remaining water, and 1/4 cup of the olive oil. Mix the dough until it forms a ball and turn onto a floured work surface. Knead the dough until it is shiny and elastic, about 15 minutes.

Place the dough into a clean bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and allow to rise until doubled in size.

Punch the dough down and divide into 4 pieces. Shape each piece of the dough into a circle about 10 inches in diameter by rolling and stretching it. Form a slight rim around the edge with your fingers.

Dust a baking sheet with cornmeal and place the dough on top of it. For each pizza, spread 1/2 cup of the sauce over the top of the dough, followed by 1/2 cup of the mozzarella and 2 tablespoons of the Parmesan. Add additional toppings of your choice and drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil over each pizza. Bake on the lowest rack in a preheated 500 degree F oven for about 10 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is bubbling.

Makes 4 (10-inch) pizzas.

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Recipe: garlic rosemary focaccia

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Garlic Rosemary Focaccia

3 whole heads garlic, not cloves
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 scant tablespoons or 2 (1/4 ounce)
packages active dry yeast
2 teaspoons granulated sugar
2 cups warm water, 105 to 115 degrees F
4 1/2 to 5 1/2 cups unbleached flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons salt
Cornmeal, for pans
2 tablespoons crushed fresh rosemary
leaves or 2 teaspoons dried
Coarse salt, optional

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Separate garlic head into cloves and peel. Add olive oil in a small heavy saucepan, add garlic, cover and cook over very low heat for 20 minutes, or until softened but not browned.

Remove from heat and strain. Set oil aside to use later. When cool, cut cloves into lengthwise slivers and set aside.

In a large bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water. Add 1 cup of unbleached flour and stir thoroughly. Let sit for 15 minutes or until mixture is filled with tiny bubbles.

Add 2 tablespoons of reserved garlic oil and 1 more cup of unbleached flour and all of the whole wheat flour and salt to the yeast mixture.

Beat vigorously with a dough hook or a heavy sturdy spoon for 2 minutes. Gradually add more of the remaining flour, 1/4 cup at a time, until dough forms a mass and begins to pull away from sides of bowl.

Turn out onto a floured surface and knead, adding more flour a little at a time as necessary for 8 to 10 minutes, or until you have a smooth elastic dough and blisters begin to develop on surface.

Place dough into an oiled bowl. Turn to coat the entire ball of the dough with oil. Cover with a tightly woven kitchen towel and let rise for about 1 hour or until doubled in size.

Sprinkle a well greased 13 x 18-inch baking sheet with cornmeal. Turn dough onto an oiled work surface. With the heel of your hand, flatten dough into an 11 x 16-inch rectangle. Lift dough onto baking sheet. Using hands, press dough into corners and edges of baking sheet.

Flattening dough with hands rather than a rolling pin will give the irregular texture associated with focaccia. Cover dough with towel and let rise 20 minutes.

Sprinkle top of dough with rosemary and the slivered garlic. Using fingertips, make indentations in dough about 1/2 inch deep and 1 inch apart, to give a dimpled effect. As you do this, press garlic slivers into dough to keep them from falling off or over cooking. Cover dough with towel and let rise an additional 20 minutes.

Place a shallow pan on lower shelf of oven and heat up.

Drizzle remaining garlic oil over top of focaccia. Use a brush to pat the oil over the entire surface, allowing any excess to pool in the indentations. Sprinkle with 1 to 2 teaspoons of coarse salt.

Put 1 cup of ice cubes in the heated shallow pan in the oven. Immediately put the focaccia in the oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until pale gold. Remove from pan and cool on a wire rack. It is best eaten slightly warm or at room temperature.

NOTE: you can substitute parmesan cheese for the salt, or use both.

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Recipe: Philadelphia Butter Cake

Philadelphia Butter Cake
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup Crisco
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1 envelope active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm milk
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Mix sugar with shortening and salt. Add egg and beat with mixer 1 minute. Dissolve yeast in warm milk. To sugar mixture, add flour, then yeast-milk mixture and vanilla. Mix 3 minutes by hand. Turn onto floured board and knead 1 minute. Place in a lightly greased bowl, cover with towel and set in a warm place to rise for 1 hour or until doubled. Meanwhile prepare topping.

Divide dough in two and roll or pat each to fit two well-greased 8-inch square pans. Crimp edges halfway up the pan to hold topping. When dough is spread, prick well with a fork to prevent bubbling. Divide topping and spread over each dough. Let cakes stand for 20 minutes, then bake at 375 degrees F for 30 minutes or until done. Do not overbake. The topping will be crusty, but gooey.

Let cool before cutting.

1 cup (2 sticks) butter
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
2 extra large eggs
4 to 5 tablespoons milk

Cream butter; mix together flour and sugar and gradually beat the sugar mixture into the butter. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Add the milk gradually until all ingredients are at an easy spreading consistency, being careful not to make it too runny.

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Recipe: sourdough pumpernickel bread

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Sourdough Pumpernickel Bread
1 1/2 cups sourdough starter
2 packages dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup molasses
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 1/2 teaspoons caraway seed
3 cups rye flour
2 1/2 to 3 cups whole wheat or all-purpose flour

Dissolve yeast in warm water. Add to sourdough starter along with salt, molasses, oil and caraway seed; mix well. Alternately add rye flour and all-purpose or whole wheat flour to make a dough that pulls away from the side of the bowl and is easy to handle. Be sure not to add flour all at once. Add as needed. Turn out onto lightly floured board and knead about 5 minutes or until smooth and elastic, adding more flour, if necessary. Place in a greased bowl, turning once. Cover with a cloth. Set in warm place free from drafts and let rise until double in size.

Divide dough in half. Shape and place in greased loaf pans. Let rise until 1/2 to 3/4-inch above pan. Bake at 350 degrees F for 50 to 60 minutes.

Makes 2 loaves.

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Recipe: hanukkah jelly doughnuts

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Hanukkah Jelly Doughnuts (Soufganiot)

Jewish Holiday Baking by Marcy Goldman

1/2 cup warm water
5 teaspoons dry yeast
1/3 cup plus a pinch of granulated sugar
1 cup warm milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 1/2 to 5 cups all-purpose flour
Vegetable oil for frying

2 cups jam or jelly of your choice
Granulated of confectioners’ sugar for dusting

To make the dough: In a large mixing bowl, stir together the warm water, yeast and a pinch of sugar. Allow the mixture to stand for a couple of minutes to allow the yeast to swell or dissolve. Stir in the remaining sugar, the milk, vanilla extract, eggs, oil, salt and most of the flour to make a soft dough. Knead five to eight minutes, by hand or with a dough hook, adding more flour as needed to form a firmer dough that is smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a greased bowl, place the bowl in a plastic bag and seal. Let the dough rise for an hour. Gently deflate it.

To shape doughnuts: Pinch off pieces of dough and form them into small balls, a little larger than a golf ball. Place the formed balls on a platter and cover the dough rounds with a clean towel and let them rise for 40 minutes.

To fry: Heat about four inches of oil in a heavy Dutch oven to about 385 degrees F.

Add the doughnuts, three or four at a time, to the hot oil and fry until the undersides are deep brown. Turn over once and finish frying the other side. The total frying time will take one and one-half to three minutes. Lift the doughnuts out with a slotted spoon and drain them on paper towels.

To fill: Make a slit with a sharp knife into the side of a doughnut. With a small bowl spoon, spoon in the jam or jelly. Dust the filled doughnuts lightly with sugar.