Posts Tagged ‘athens’

Maitake Knotted Pizza on Old Baguette Dough

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Maitake mushrooms are one of the many but nuanced signals that summer is ending and fall beginning. They are called “Hen of the woods”, (not to be confused with “Chicken of the woods) because of the featherlike attributes of the numerous caps. The Japanese translation for maitake is “Dancing Mushroom” and it grows in clumps right near big oak trunks meet the earth. I got mine through a trade with a great vendor at the Athens Farmers Market.


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This is a nice clump. When Maitake are young you can cut well into the trunk but when they are older, the trunk gets tough. Today, I’ve decided to use some four-day old, cold fermented baguette dough that is a blend of all-purpose or lower protein flour and another flour that is up to 14 percent protein. This will be a good balance of texture and crunch when I bake it at a high temperature.

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Our baguette dough is naturally leavened with almost 50 percent starter which gives it an modest sourdough flavor profile and a great deep, golden crust along with waxy, irregular aveoli, or cells.

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The maitake mushroom contains L-glutamate which is natures flavor enhancer that produces umami or “The fifth taste” which is that back of the palate pleaser that both tomatoes and  Parmigiano Reggiano exhibit so the toppings for this foray into savory land have to be great partners for this particular mushroom. I’ve chosen my all star cheese- Gruyere, along with sprouted Puy (or French) lentils, local Harmony Hollow bacon,  Jerusalem artichokes that I’ve been growing in my garden and some fresh spinach for color and crunch after the oven. All of my toppings for this pizza are going to be cut thin and raw because I want them to just cook through with the high heat of 600 degrees.

Four days before hand, I filled a container with water and the puy lentils and swished them around then left them to soak for three hours. I then rinsed them in a colander and placed them back in the container. Each eight to ten hours, I returned the moist lentils and tossed them, rinsed them again and drained, leaving them in the moist environment to sprout. After just two days, they sprouted. Yum


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Then I dug up the beautiful Jerusalem artichokes. These are also called “Sun chokes” and are an amazingly aggressive rhizome which shoots everywhere under the ground. (Some old time farmers warned me about growing these massive plants and now I see why…think bamboo.) After digging them up and washing, I sliced them very thin to just cook through on the pizza.


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I cut the maitake’s small leaf-like mushroom feathers that were sure to cook through on the pizza and made a football shape that I topped with the Gruyere.

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Then I topped with the sprouted lentils and the mushroom feathers followed by thin strips of the bacon and the sun choke. Now, because I am a knotting freak, I just had to pull and tie this dough in a knot at the end. This is in the form of a Turkish Pide, (Pee-DAY) that I am so fond of.


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After the knots were done, I took both ends and stretched the dough out. This creates a larger platform


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I baked this bad boy at 600 for 11 minutes until the cornicione puffed up like the Hindenburg and this baby was ready to enjoy. It was delicious.

Insane in the Membrane: Caul fat Batard

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Hey, if you are looking for a power punch of porcine paradise look no further than a freshly par-baked batard wrapped in fresh herbs, bacon or Prosciutto di Parma and caul fat! then baked again for an extra nudge off that porky cliff of deliciousness.

Now, this may sound kinda shocking but caul fat is the reason why a lot of foods that would otherwise fall apart, stay in shape and have a hint of wondrous fatty goodness in them. Caul fat is the thin layer of net that surrounds the stomach. It can be from cows, sheep or pigs and over the centuries has been used in many foods such as the French Crepinette and veal sausage, British Faggots, Italian Fegatelli as well as being widely used in Russian cuisine and the Chinese make a great crab and pork dumpling in caul fat.

So why not a batard wrapped in caul fat? Well, I’ve been tinkering with foods that hold flavors close to baked wheat and infuse that wrapped goodness into the loaf. Here it is.


First proof the loaves.

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Then bake them in a 550 degree oven with or without steam the way you would usually bake a batard or baguette. When par cooked, pull from the oven and immediately place a layer of caul fat topped with bacon or Prosciutto di Parma and chopped basil, cilantro and Italian flat leaf parsley.. Roll up the log and place back in the oven on a tray. The fat will leak a lot.

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These batards I baked were for sale so I had to keep the ingredients together for my customers to reheat at home. What is really cool with caul fat wrapped batards is when the caul fat disappears, it creates a misshapen or bent batard or “Bentard”, like the one above.


Remember to always wash caul fat, which usually comes in very large frozen blocks.

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I know your moms probably said never to play with your food but she probably never said about playing with and internal pig lining, bacon and herbs. I hope you can try this.