Posts Tagged ‘pancetta pizza’

Loaf Vadar and Dark Side of Baking

fall 2015 892ii

This  year brought a lot of new and different pizzas and breads to my neck of the woods. For some insane reason I’ve found a particular enjoyment in circumventing conventional baking wisdom and over the years have embraced what another traditional baker has called “the gluten dark side.”  It’s taken years to let nature and circumstance drive my baking and I now realize that the only people that give my efforts any relevance are my customers here in this small corner of Appalachia. I am not bound by inane recipes or tradition but by the seasons, my customers and what my farmer-friends grow. Most weeks I feel like “Loaf Vadar”, taking the culinary path less trodden.  I like it near the edge where true local flavor lies.

fall 2015 213ii fall 2015 067iii

In Athens, Ohio, we have the greatest farmers, ranchers and cheese makers in the country. These great folks are all my friends and I love buying local produce, meats and cheeses from them. This weekly spastic exercise is like a giant chefs basket challenge where the seasonal produce dictates my decisions as to what flavor profiles I can manipulate into cohesive deliciousness. I like to see how funky I can get to turn my customers on to the best damn baked products around by incorporating the best local stuff with great traditional meats and cheeses. (above- fresh celeriac from Shade River Farms and Tat Soi from Barrel Ridge Farms.)

fall 2015 890ii

I  love to use wonderful “Agra dolce” or sweet and sour flavor profiles with old-world ingredients like the Stilton, Cherry Orchards pear and Serrano Ham “Cornetta” above and above top.

fall 2015 1412ii fall 2015 459iii

Even Mr. Vadar has to have partners and here at Avalanche because besides being a high-volume pizzeria in a college town, we bake massive amounts of breads every week.  I had lots of  help, mentorship and advice from Joel Fair, Torrey, Dane, Dave and so many other this late summer and into November who constantly brought new ideas and techniques to work on. Lets take a tour.

fall 2015 456ii fall 2015 894ii

Whilst baking, I have plenty of time to bang out some righteous pies using different hydration, flours, temperature and fermentation times. Above left is a very nice “Green Tomato Margherita”, the concept of which I totally ripped off from Jim Lahey of Sullivan Street Bakery and Co. It is made with Gibson Ridge Farms green tomato sauce, fresh fiore di latte mozzarella, fresh basil and a dollop of San Marzano’s to stave off any traditionalists snarks. On the right is a straight shooter! Local Shagbark Seed and Mill spelt crust with freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano and roasted Rich Gardens organic Corolla potatoes with a little sprinkle of white truffle oil after the oven.

2015 fall 500ii FullSizeRender(2)ii

“Slash and Burn” sourdough batards above are very cool looking, fun to bake at 600 degrees and even better to eat.


fall 2015 871ii fall 2015 880ii

This fougasse above features some bodacious French Breakfast radishes and fresh ginger grown by my friends at Green Edge Gardens atop a flatbread stuffed with Harmony Hollow ham, Ed Perkins’ fresh cilantro, and black and white sesame.


fall 2015 068iii

This was a very Violet day at Avalanche. We stuffed local Integration Acres Feta in dough with Vest Farms Beets, Sassafras Farms dill for a killer fougasse called “Beet me in St. Louis” or “Can’t Beet This” or some other stupid name we come up with at 4 a.m. (Torrey, I miss you telling me how fucked-up the names sound- even though Dane does that now.)

2015 fall 177ii 2015 fall 192ii

Pain Tordu, or twisted baguette on the left and some crimped and crispy pizzas on the right are also crowd faves.

2015 fall 193ii 2015 fall 194ii

With the coming of the cooler weather, roots of all kinds are a smash hit. On the left are roasted and sliced Shade River organic celeriac and roasted white potatoes from the Chesterhill Produce Auction paired with Parmigiano Reggiano, toasted leek, house-cured Harmony Hallow Pancetta and crushed Castelvetrano olives. On the right is a wonderful combination of curried Vest Farms sweet potato, Gruyere, toasted pumkin seed and local parsley.

fall 2015 1232ii fall 2015 2521ii

I love making couronne. The large forty-ounce loaf on the left is made with a sixty-hour, cold fermented dough and is called the ‘Flintsone Wheel’ and Dane Salabak rolled some really cool aged mozzarella and provolone with basil pesto into some slitted couronne on the right. Delicious.

2015 fall 537ii

Spanish Saffron is a delight, especially cooked in a moist, wheaty profile like these pizzettes. I made these using saffron, extra virgin olive oil and onions and kneaded into the dough. I aged these for two days in cold fermentation then topped with Manchego Cheese from La Manchia, a bombastic house-made chorizo and roasted Rich Farms Corolla potato.

 fall 2015 1943ii fall 2015 1944ii

Not all pizza have to be round! This crunchy pizza (above) is my Vest Farms “Carrot Star” with Gruyere, Integration Acres chevre, roasted beet and sweet Toro peppers from Cowdery farms.

fall 2015 152ii 2015 fall 507ii

I sell a lot of filled ladder bread like the Italian sausage, above left with onion, green pepper and poppy seed. A real fun fougasse that I made was this pork belly sunburst fougasse; cured pork belly sliced and baked with plenty of fresh Green Edge Gardens cilantro, corn, onion and topped with sunflower seeds.

fall 2015 2209ii fall 2015 2210ii

Above is my Pissalidiere New Style; Sicilian and Turkish white anchovies adorn this crisp olive oil crust with a scallion-basil-lemon pesto, Spanish Manchego Cheese, Cowdery Farms “Cherry Bomb” peppers roasted and filled with San Remo olive pesto, capers and finished with real Sardinian Bottarga!


2015 fall 543ii 2015 fall 551ii

Using a technique to bring as much saffron flavor into dough, I’ve kneaded roasted onion into a very hydrated saffron dough and incorporated it into a Focaccia al Metro above. Kernza is a perennial wheat that is heralding the beginning of sustainable farming techniques that cut out tilling, (and thus erosion), chemical fertilizers, water and all the energy and oil involved with the stupid practice of re-planting seeds every year. It has a nice nuanced molasses flavor akin to pumpernickel.

2015 fall 529ii

Dane really kicks ass with massive amounts of fresh ciabatta that he baked. This sandwich has Prosciutto di Parma, fresh arugula, roasted sweet peppers, roasted Portobello, brie and balsamic glaze with a little Parmigiano Reggiano.

fall 2015 461ii fall 2015 1374ii

On the left, above is a fab Spanish style Coca with an organic potato-garlic puree, saffron onion, white beans and Manchego with roasted Cowdery Toro peppers and Spanish Boquerones or white anchovies and capers. On the right is our “Canoli-rita” with roasted Chesterhill roma tomato, fresh basil, Piave Vecchio and Parmigiano Reggiano. Wow!

fall 2015 1415ii fall 2015 1417ii

“Italian Stallion” stuffed fougasse above with sweet Soppressata, roasted garlic pudding, aged provolone, fresh spinach, roasted Vest Farms carrots and Yukon gold potatoes.

2015 fall 173ii bread 2015

Baguettes are one of the first things we make each and every morning, above left. Sometimes, (meaning always), I get a “wild hair” and fold in some cool shit to bake. Example- the Chinese Five-spiced batons stuffed with aged provolone, kimchi and rolled in toasted sesame. Major yum!

fall 2015 2254ii fall 2015 2256ii

Left above is a stellar “Agra Dolce” profile in a Turkish Pide style dough. This has Stilton, braised Shade River Organic endive, Adriatic fig jam and Marcona almonds.

2015 fall 196ii

I am now experimenting with Kernza. This is a product made from the first harvested Kernza in Ohio with Parmigiano, fresh mozzarella, roasted Portobello’s, Prosciutto di Parma, balsamic glaze and a blast of white truffle oil.

fall 2015 114ii fall 2015 115ii

Above is my take on the traditional Slovakian Cabbage Bread. I took some radical Shade River Organic purple cabbage and Shews Orchard Granny Smith apples, roasted both with caraway and kneaded, baked and sold all 28 of them in under an hour. (I think it was the freaky scales that did it!)

fall 2015 121ii fall 2015 123ii

I love stuffed breads so I had to do my version of a traditional Casatiello di Napoletana. This is with Parmigiano Reggiano, roasted Cowdery Farms roma tomato, Prosciutto di Parma, Genoa salami, fresh basil and Fiore di Latte curd. What a killer bread- sure to show your “O” face while eating this baby!

 fall 2015 1939ii fall 2015 458ii

We tie a lot of gluten at Avalanche. many knots appear on our Turkish style Pide like the (above left) “Berry Me in Bacon” with King Family bacon, fresh blueberries, aged provolone and Coonskin Sugarbush Maple Syrup. On the right is another long, crisp Spanish style Coca with cured pork belly, Manchego cheese, saffron onions, Stanislaus Valorosso tomato, fresh spinach and basil.

fall 2015 189ii fall 2015 139ii

These Chinese style Shao Bing crackers we served with our vegan boxes. toasted sesame oil with seeds folded over and over. Speaking of folding, above right is our “Gorrilla Bread”, cinnamon, vanilla, maple and a nice steamed, sweet pull of….sweet, sweet bread!

fall 2015 2229ii fall 2015 2522ii

Above left we baked Tavola da Surf. These surfboards rock with local Shagbark Seed and Mill polenta, roasted Rich Gardens fingerling potato and Cowdery farms potato-garlic pudding-stuffed cherry bomb peppers along with corn. Above right is some knotted pide with the same garlic pudding, Chesterhill pattypan squash and a dandy sweet puree of Cowdery Farms finest sweet peppers!

2015 fall 518ii

I took a real walk on the wild side with this “Ribread”. Hey, don’t knock it until you’ve tried this cabbage, Gruyere and baby back masterpiece!

fall 2015 250ii brd153

Asian flavors in bread are not commonplace but my customers love the flavor profile so I continue to make this long tall fougasse, (above left.) It is toasted sesame, local Green Edge Gardens ginger, fresh basil and lemon- the smell as these pop from the oven is alluringly heaven-like. On  the right is our Shagbark Seed and Mill spelt couronne using local spelt grown only 20 miles away by the Amish. It features dried Michigan cherries and walnuts.

fall 2015 173ii fall 2015 1430ii

For a great filling dessert type bread, I also make a Lebanese Sukkar bi Tahin. Sweetened tahini rolled in high protein flour then coiled, baked and either topped with almond and maple syrup or a maple poached Cherry Orchard pear.

fall 2015 2249ii fall 2015 248ii

So that’s it folks, I hope you can make a few of these delights for your customers or family and friends. I’ll post a video we made last week with more baked goods.

And remember all you freaky traditionalists, if you’re not having fun with food, get a life and join the dark side.

Winter Butternut Pide with Bellwether Crescenza and Teleggio

I love cooking butternut squash with vanilla, cinnamon and maple syrup, so when Rhonda from the Athens Farmers Market unloaded a huge one upon me, I knew exactly what to do. Since I had a pair of wonderful creamy cheeses; Teleggio from Italy and Bellwether Farms Crescenza from Sonoma, I thought I’d make a delicous Turkish-style Pide, (Pee-DAY,) with pancetta, roasted hazelnuts, fresh spinach and some local Cantrell honey. This pide is quite perfect for these cold winter days.



One- twelve to fifteen ounce dough from the Schiacciata dough recipe on this blog.

One ounce or half a handful of fresh whole spinach leaf.

Two and a half ounces of imported Teleggio, (DOP) from Italy.

Five to six ounces of  butternut squash. (Recipe below with equal amounts of cinnamon, vanilla and maple syrup with nutmeg and water)

Three and a half ounces, (one thick slice,) of Italian style pancetta. (Bacon is too strong for this recipe.)

One ounce raw hazlenuts or “Filberts” as they are sometimes called.

Three ounces Bellwether Farms Crescenza.

Local Cantrell honey poured on after oven.

For the squash, pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. To render the butternut squash, I usually keep the vegetable peeler on the bench and cut the butternut squash first across to obtain round sections that are two inches high. Put these sections flat on the cutting board and trim the skin off of them. Then cut them into quarters so you can cut the stringy inside off also. These can then be cut again into smaller inch wide chunks.

Place the butternut squash chunks in a bowl and coat with the same amount of  honey, maple syrup, cinnamon, a pinch of nutmeg and vanilla essence. Add a little hot water and toss in the bowl. Pour the mix on a foil-lined tray and insert into the oven on the middle shelf. Cook until fork tender, tossing occasionally. Take out of the oven, and cool, then slice into small thin squares that will spread nicely on the pizza. Turn the oven up to 495 degrees and place a heavy, upturned cookie sheet or pizza stone on the middle shelf.


Cube the pancetta and the cut the raw hazelnuts with a sharp knife. Cook the pancetta over the stove in a saute’ pan or pot, (as I used here because I couldn’t find a saute’.) Briefly saute’ on medium high heat until partially cooked. 


Add the copped hazelnuts to the pot. Toss under the same heat for one minute, then add two tablespoons of water to deglaze the pan. Cook in the pancetta juice for one minute more. Remove and reserve for the pizza.


Using the dough from Schiacciata dough recipe, you will have a 14 ounce dough ball, (I used a 12.5 ounce dough for this recipe.) Place on a piece of parchment and form into an oval. Add the spinach, the Teleggio and the sliced butternut squash.


Then add the pancetta, the hazelnuts and lastly the Crescenza.


Now is time to pull the dough from the middle of the dough disc toward you and work it to the end. Using gentle pressure, pull the dough and twist into a cable-like rope. Next, wrap the dough around your finger and pull the dough through the hole forming a simple knot. (here, I had to be careful becuase the dough was quite sticky but it still held its shape.)

Transfer the parchment with the Pide on it to the oven using another tray to slide it on the stone or cookie tray and cook for at least 15 minutes. This is a large Pide and will take a little more time to cook. Keep an eye on the bottom of the Pide and the outer crust.

Drizzle with honey and serve to an astonished crowd!

Nice, and look at the crumb on this cornicione.