Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Traveling Baker

DMIL (Dear Mother-In-Law) just moved into assisted living from her home of 40 years, so we trekked down to San Diego to see her new digs. We stayed at the home of my husband's sister and her family.

Instead of treating them to a dinner out that we can't really afford right now, I made a pizza dinner for our hosts. I took my dough bucket, dough whisk, scale, oil sprayer, and some yeast with us and we bought the other ingredients there. I used this recipe to make the dough, making two batches. This yielded 7 individual pizzas, 6" wide, that each person could "decorate" with toppings before baking. The kids enjoyed this part the most.

I made the dough the night before, and probably should have given it more time to come to room temperature. It was a little "tight" rolling out. I usually like this recipe because the fresh dough is very easy to roll out, but once it's cold it's more difficult. I didn't have my pizza stone, so I transferred each pizza (on parchment) to a pre-heated pizza pan left in the oven. The bottoms didn't crisp up much and tended to "sweat" a bit. I was also trying to figure out my SIL's convection oven, so that may have had an effect as well. The pizzas were still good, and my SIL's picky kids even ate more than a bite.

I also took a freshly baked loaf of kalamata olive bread down as a gift when we arrived. That got devoured at a family dinner party the next day.

On Friday we had some down time because our plan to go to the beach was rained/June Gloomed out. I decided we needed challah for Friday night dinner, so I whipped up some dough. I made one challah, and used the remaining dough to make cinnamon rolls for the next day's breakfast. YUM!!!!!!! Both were well received and enjoyed by our hosts, though my nephew was put out that I'd sprinkled poppy seeds on the challah.

It's always a challenge baking in someone else's kitchen, but having some of my most essential tools and yeast helped. My SIL has a big, beautiful kitchen, so that helped, too. She has tile countertops, but there was a generously sized plastic cutting board for kneading. It slipped around until I anchored it with a dampened towel.

The internet was another invaluable tool, because I didn't have to schlep recipes down with me. I did have the pizza recipe and challah on my PDA, but I needed to look up how to make frosting for the cinnamon rolls.

I was happy to have a chance to bake and to share something nice with our hosts. For others this would be work, but for me it was relaxation, and a perfect part of a lovely vacation.

I fed Baby Bobby just before we left and as soon as we arrived back. He seems to be just fine. He'll have some nice bakes this coming weekend.

I was thinking of making sourdough pancakes for Wine Guy for Father's Day, but I've decided to do the blueberry lemon curd ring from AB in 5 instead. Mmmmmm, can't wait to try it!

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