urchin

Baking Breads

145 posts in this topic

I have to thank Canberra for one thing - the enormous expense of eating out and the utter lack of anything resembling good pizza or good french bread has forced me to learn how to do some of these things myself. In true Somersoft vein, I thought I might "share my journey" and, hopefully, get some tips from those who are more proficient. Will start off with my "Pizza journey"

pizza crusts:

This turned out to be quite easy to do once I figured out two things:

1. Use a bit of high gluten flour (unless you are allergic to gluten in which case you have my sympathy)

2. Very hot temperatures + baking stone. The standard household oven doesn't seem to be strong enough so I use my hooded BBQ. putting the pizza stone on the hotplate and giving it 40 mins-1 hour to heat up before sliding the pizza on is a crucial point.

If you don't have a pizza stone, don't buy one. Instead do what I'm hoping to do this afternoon (once the missus gets back with the car) - go to bunnings and get an *unglazed* paving stone. Unglazed is important - apparently baking a glazed one will emit all sorts of toxic chemicals and that might upset your digestion. Anyway, this is a tip i picked up from pizza forums but it sounds reasonable enough. Pizza stones are usually expensive and too fragile. They often crack as they cool (even if you let them cool slowly). And they are also too small for me when baking non-circular breads.

Anyway, the recipe for never fail (except for when it does) pizza dough (makes enough for a family of 2 moderate-adult eaters and 2 young kids):

500g (3.75 cups loosely packed) baking flour

75g or so of gluten flour.

a bit of salt (1.75 or so tsp, don't overdo it b/c salt, apparently, inhibits the yeast)

1 tsp yeast

1.75 cups water.

Some recipes say add a 1/4 cup olive oil but i think it just makes the dough heavier. Can easily be dispensed with.

be sure to mix the baking flour and gluten flour well before adding water. You can proof the yeast in warm water for 10 mins first if you want, but i haven't had any issues with just pouring ye olde yeast directly into the flour. again, mix well before adding water.

dump it all into the bread machine on dough cycle or mixer with dough hook. when it is mixed reasonably well, plop it onto dry, floured surface and knead for about 10 mins until you have a smooth, elastic dough (you should be able to stretch the dough to the point where it gets to be semi-transparent without tearing. When mixing, if the dough seems overly watery toss in a little more flour, too dry a little water.

Now you have three options:

1. freeze the dough for later use (i can't tell the difference between frozen and non-frozen)

2. put in oiled bowls (make sure whole surface of dough is coated with a thin layer of oil), cover with plastic wrap and let it sit in the fridge overnight for use the next day. A slow rise will give you a more supple dough but be sure to remove it from the fridge several hours before use as it takes a while for the dough to warm up again.

3. put it on oiled bowls and cover with plastic wrap and let it sit in a reasonably warm room for a few hours. Punch down once when it doubles and let rise again. After it doubles a second time you will be ready to shape the dough.

There are lots of videos on youtube about shaping pizza dough so I won't try to explain here. I will only say that using a rolling pin is not a good idea. you want to use your hands to stretch the dough out, you don't want to compress it. How thick you want it to be is a largely personal choice, but i prefer thinner pizzas...

lay the shaped dough on a well-floured pizza peel (I use a wooden cheese board), slap on the tomato sauce (not too thick!) - i prefer to use my own marinara sauce because its cheaper than the store-bought & easy to make. just be sure to reduce it further than you would for normal pasta so you don't get a soggy pizza. if you want big fluffy crusts, don't spread sauce out the edges. if you don't want big crusts, just spread the sauce all the way out to the edge. throw on a few ingredients and you are ready to go. It is good to resist the urge to overload the pizza as it will mean increased sogginess. I typically limit to 2-3 ingredients max.

coat the pizza stone with a spoonful or two of corn meal to prevent sticking (better than regular flour because it has a higher burning temperature. Regular flour will burn and give a bitter taste) and do your best to get the pizza on the stone without demolishing it. This is always the most difficult part of the process for me as it will stick to the peel no matter what i do. using lots of flour has been the best method so far but it has the disadvantage of having more regular flour on the bottom of the pizza which leads to the bitterness of burnt regular flour mentioned above.

close the lid and resist the urge to open it every minute or so. You want to cook it at as high a temperature as you can (within reason) 275 C or 500 F or so is probably ideal. It should cook in 5-7 minutes.

That's it. The pizzas I have made have been a hell of a lot better than those I have had at restaurants in Canberra. And all in all it will cost you about $3-5 per pie, depending on what toppings you use. don't stint on the mozzarella cheese, though. get the good stuff in blocks, not pre-grated fake mozzarella - its worth it.

The key points are:

a bit of gluten flour

plenty of rise time (but not too long or the pizza dough will be too weak)

very hot oven and well-heated stone.

Next I time I will try chronicling my ongoing quest to make perfect french bread - but for now I have to go do some kneading...

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I have to thank Canberra for one thing - the enormous expense of eating out and the utter lack of anything resembling good pizza or good french bread has forced me to learn how to do some of these things myself. In true Somersoft vein, I thought I might "share my journey" and, hopefully, get some tips from those who are more proficient. Will start off with my "Pizza journey"

pizza crusts:

This turned out to be quite easy to do once I figured out two things:

1. Use a bit of high gluten flour (unless you are allergic to gluten in which case you have my sympathy)

2. Very hot temperatures + baking stone. The standard household oven doesn't seem to be strong enough so I use my hooded BBQ. putting the pizza stone on the hotplate and giving it 40 mins-1 hour to heat up before sliding the pizza on is a crucial point.

If you don't have a pizza stone, don't buy one. Instead do what I'm hoping to do this afternoon (once the missus gets back with the car) - go to bunnings and get an *unglazed* paving stone. Unglazed is important - apparently baking a glazed one will emit all sorts of toxic chemicals and that might upset your digestion. Anyway, this is a tip i picked up from pizza forums but it sounds reasonable enough. Pizza stones are usually expensive and too fragile. They often crack as they cool (even if you let them cool slowly). And they are also too small for me when baking non-circular breads.

Anyway, the recipe for never fail (except for when it does) pizza dough (makes enough for a family of 2 moderate-adult eaters and 2 young kids):

500g (3.75 cups loosely packed) baking flour

75g or so of gluten flour.

a bit of salt (1.75 or so tsp, don't overdo it b/c salt, apparently, inhibits the yeast)

1 tsp yeast

1.75 cups water.

Some recipes say add a 1/4 cup olive oil but i think it just makes the dough heavier. Can easily be dispensed with.

be sure to mix the baking flour and gluten flour well before adding water. You can proof the yeast in warm water for 10 mins first if you want, but i haven't had any issues with just pouring ye olde yeast directly into the flour. again, mix well before adding water.

dump it all into the bread machine on dough cycle or mixer with dough hook. when it is mixed reasonably well, plop it onto dry, floured surface and knead for about 10 mins until you have a smooth, elastic dough (you should be able to stretch the dough to the point where it gets to be semi-transparent without tearing. When mixing, if the dough seems overly watery toss in a little more flour, too dry a little water.

Now you have three options:

1. freeze the dough for later use (i can't tell the difference between frozen and non-frozen)

2. put in oiled bowls (make sure whole surface of dough is coated with a thin layer of oil), cover with plastic wrap and let it sit in the fridge overnight for use the next day. A slow rise will give you a more supple dough but be sure to remove it from the fridge several hours before use as it takes a while for the dough to warm up again.

3. put it on oiled bowls and cover with plastic wrap and let it sit in a reasonably warm room for a few hours. Punch down once when it doubles and let rise again. After it doubles a second time you will be ready to shape the dough.

There are lots of videos on youtube about shaping pizza dough so I won't try to explain here. I will only say that using a rolling pin is not a good idea. you want to use your hands to stretch the dough out, you don't want to compress it. How thick you want it to be is a largely personal choice, but i prefer thinner pizzas...

lay the shaped dough on a well-floured pizza peel (I use a wooden cheese board), slap on the tomato sauce (not too thick!) - i prefer to use my own marinara sauce because its cheaper than the store-bought & easy to make. just be sure to reduce it further than you would for normal pasta so you don't get a soggy pizza. if you want big fluffy crusts, don't spread sauce out the edges. if you don't want big crusts, just spread the sauce all the way out to the edge. throw on a few ingredients and you are ready to go. It is good to resist the urge to overload the pizza as it will mean increased sogginess. I typically limit to 2-3 ingredients max.

coat the pizza stone with a spoonful or two of corn meal to prevent sticking (better than regular flour because it has a higher burning temperature. Regular flour will burn and give a bitter taste) and do your best to get the pizza on the stone without demolishing it. This is always the most difficult part of the process for me as it will stick to the peel no matter what i do. using lots of flour has been the best method so far but it has the disadvantage of having more regular flour on the bottom of the pizza which leads to the bitterness of burnt regular flour mentioned above.

close the lid and resist the urge to open it every minute or so. You want to cook it at as high a temperature as you can (within reason) 275 C or 500 F or so is probably ideal. It should cook in 5-7 minutes.

That's it. The pizzas I have made have been a hell of a lot better than those I have had at restaurants in Canberra. And all in all it will cost you about $3-5 per pie, depending on what toppings you use. don't stint on the mozzarella cheese, though. get the good stuff in blocks, not pre-grated fake mozzarella - its worth it.

The key points are:

a bit of gluten flour

plenty of rise time (but not too long or the pizza dough will be too weak)

very hot oven and well-heated stone.

Next I time I will try chronicling my ongoing quest to make perfect french bread - but for now I have to go do some kneading...

Top post urchin! I have some good Sourdough tips but no time at the moment. Mowing calls.

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Top post urchin! I have some good Sourdough tips but no time at the moment. Mowing calls.

Thanks,

Will revise the bit about using a paving stone, however. did a bit more research and it seems a bit risky as you can't be all that certain as to what has gone on in the manufacturing process. using an unpolished stone slab (piece of granite or the like) should be fine as it is just stone but things that have been manufactured (and perhaps had cement or other things added) might prove unhealthy.

So I guess i am stuck with my inconveniently round pizza stone for the time being.

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I've been meaning to try making pizza dough for ages - we tend to just use pita bread. Bit of a poor substitute. It is our 5 year anniversary in a few weeks and we want to buy ourselves a whizz-bang beating/mixing machine so that sounds like a good time to get into breadmaking :) We make a lot of cakes and biscuits but not breads.

I wonder if reconstituted granite is bad too? Out this way there is loads of slate. It comes in quite big pieces - you sometimes see it used as enormous paving slabs in footpaths. I have taken a grand total of 0 of these to the new house though ... bugger.

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I've been meaning to try making pizza dough for ages - we tend to just use pita bread. Bit of a poor substitute. It is our 5 year anniversary in a few weeks and we want to buy ourselves a whizz-bang beating/mixing machine so that sounds like a good time to get into breadmaking :) We make a lot of cakes and biscuits but not breads.

I wonder if reconstituted granite is bad too? Out this way there is loads of slate. It comes in quite big pieces - you sometimes see it used as enormous paving slabs in footpaths. I have taken a grand total of 0 of these to the new house though ... bugger.

happy 5th anniversary (in advance)! Ah, I can almost remember when I was that young. Almost...

from what i have been reading (admittedly not much) anything reconstituted should be treated as suspect unless it is clearly labelled safe for contact with food. If you have a regular old piece of slate, all in one piece, i can't imagine that there would be anything wrong with it (unless it has been coated). A good wash, maybe give it a dry run in the oven once and it should be fine I would guess (but it's only a guess).

It's not the expense of the pizza stone that bothers me so much (though it was annoying when one cracked the 2nd time I used it) but rather the shape and size. What I really want is one that fits the size of the hotplate part of the grill perfectly.

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...

A few things I will add from my experience.

1. I only ever use regular flour as I just can't be arsed with the fancy flours except 00 for pasta and even then it is fairly optional I think.

2. Cornflour is an idea I haven't tried, might try it next time. Although the burned flour doesn't seem bad to me, I kind of like it in a "rustic pizza" style

3. Oven temps work okay providing you can get enough heat into the stone and it is big enough to make the cold of the pizza irrelevant, I used the place setter from my Big Green Egg a few times it is about 4 or 5 kilos of ceramic. To replicate this you need to buy a big green egg I guess, although I think the place setters are replacement purchases so it might be worth looking at.

4. I gave all this up when a cheap and crappy gadget actually worked. I got a pizza maker for christmas and expected it to be useless but gave ti a shot. Turned out well as it has an element at the top as well and so can be rarked up to a million degrees. As a bonus it does omelettes in a slightly weird way due to the top and bottom elements really close to the food. The weird way has become somewhat popular in the house and so I use it for that and frittattas more than pizza now.

I dream of the day I have enough spare cash to do the kitchen out the way I want with all of my weird and wonderful tools and utensils easy to use. At the moment I have to store stuff in cupboards and haul them out when required.

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Yes great thread.

The only frustrating thing, is a pizza oven is one of those things you really only want to construct if you own your house... Anyway one day.

On the stones make sure you do not use a stone which is still damp inside, depending on the porosity of the stone this could be causing it to crack.

Warning on river stones, i.e. smooth, rocks found around rivers:

Same as for when you make campfires, do not place river stones near heat or fire as they will explode. I have never been sure whether it is steam trying to push its way out of the stone or just varying thermal expansion at the edge v the middle, but either way they will put a major ding in the BBQ I imagine as they will obliterate a bonfire if you throw a few in.

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Yes great thread.

The only frustrating thing, is a pizza oven is one of those things you really only want to construct if you own your house... Anyway one day.

Actually bunnings has gas fired pizza ovens for a few hundred bucks. They are similar to your regular gas bbq but designed specifically for pizzas. presumably you can get them a lot hotter... I considered it but the $99 hooded bbq seems to be doing well enough.

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Thanks,

Will revise the bit about using a paving stone, however. did a bit more research and it seems a bit risky as you can't be all that certain as to what has gone on in the manufacturing process. using an unpolished stone slab (piece of granite or the like) should be fine as it is just stone but things that have been manufactured (and perhaps had cement or other things added) might prove unhealthy.

So I guess i am stuck with my inconveniently round pizza stone for the time being.

Great thread!

I approach pizza dough very much like you do, and I agree, can't tell frozen from fresh dough. Very handy when you can't be arsed to start from scratch... If you pack it in flat packages in the freezer it comes back up to temperature faster.

But the stone problem...I have been tussling with this one. Lots of american sources recommend the tile approach, but I am starting to think that they have all just copied each other and never actually tried it. Plain terracotta might work, as it is (theoretically) pure clay. But it is also fragile.

I'd like a slice of stone, too, but they are expensive and relatively hard to get in the dimensions I want, ie very big, not too thick to be too heavy but not so thin it shatters. (The oven is huge and often I cook in quantity). Marble does not work. Granite might, but I haven't been able the find the perfect piece. Yet. Any suggestions from someone who has actually made this work for them will be welcome.

The oven here is hell-hot for a domestic oven, but the temperature is not always easy to control. It was made in italy and would not ever have been my choice, but has been interesting to test drive. Pizza cooks fast and well in it, but I think I could do better if I could find a suitable stone.

BTW, I have heard bad stories about using natural stone, as Tom said, so I think I would be slow to try raw slate, which tends to crack unpredictably at the best of times. Altho frankly if I found a likely looking bit by the side of the road and was in the mood, who am I kidding, I'd try it. But I might herd the kids elsewhere first.

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http://www.biggreenegg.com/setters.html

Seriously. Ceramic, big and heavy for heat retention (although some people throw fire bricks in there too for more thermal mass). See if your local barbecues galore have one. Egg owners occasionally break theirs.

A BGE can get up to about 300C relatively easily as well. So if you want to go into the fanatic barbecue world you could buy the whole thing, a lot of people do good pizza in it. I can't do a world better than the little pizza maker so don't tend to bother getting the fire going (takes me about an hour to get a seriously hot fire in the thing).

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http://www.biggreenegg.com/setters.html

Seriously. Ceramic, big and heavy for heat retention (although some people throw fire bricks in there too for more thermal mass). See if your local barbecues galore have one. Egg owners occasionally break theirs.

A BGE can get up to about 300C relatively easily as well. So if you want to go into the fanatic barbecue world you could buy the whole thing, a lot of people do good pizza in it. I can't do a world better than the little pizza maker so don't tend to bother getting the fire going (takes me about an hour to get a seriously hot fire in the thing).

The BGE looks good. Expensive though at $1695. Not even sure which size that one is. What are they like for spare parts?

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The BGE looks good. Expensive though at $1695. Not even sure which size that one is. What are they like for spare parts?

Never needed spares. I assume a bit of a hassle as they are not super common here.

They are expensive but so is having a real pizza oven and the egg is a bit more versatile.

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http://www.biggreenegg.com/setters.html

Seriously. Ceramic, big and heavy for heat retention (although some people throw fire bricks in there too for more thermal mass). See if your local barbecues galore have one. Egg owners occasionally break theirs.

A BGE can get up to about 300C relatively easily as well. So if you want to go into the fanatic barbecue world you could buy the whole thing, a lot of people do good pizza in it. I can't do a world better than the little pizza maker so don't tend to bother getting the fire going (takes me about an hour to get a seriously hot fire in the thing).

Not a bad idea, will follow it up. I have to admit that as I am a rusted-on (in every sense!) Weber BBQer I hadn't thought in that direction.

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A few things I will add from my experience.

1. I only ever use regular flour as I just can't be arsed with the fancy flours except 00 for pasta and even then it is fairly optional I think.

2. Cornflour is an idea I haven't tried, might try it next time. Although the burned flour doesn't seem bad to me, I kind of like it in a "rustic pizza" style

3. Oven temps work okay providing you can get enough heat into the stone and it is big enough to make the cold of the pizza irrelevant, I used the place setter from my Big Green Egg a few times it is about 4 or 5 kilos of ceramic. To replicate this you need to buy a big green egg I guess, although I think the place setters are replacement purchases so it might be worth looking at.

4. I gave all this up when a cheap and crappy gadget actually worked. I got a pizza maker for christmas and expected it to be useless but gave ti a shot. Turned out well as it has an element at the top as well and so can be rarked up to a million degrees. As a bonus it does omelettes in a slightly weird way due to the top and bottom elements really close to the food. The weird way has become somewhat popular in the house and so I use it for that and frittattas more than pizza now.

I dream of the day I have enough spare cash to do the kitchen out the way I want with all of my weird and wonderful tools and utensils easy to use. At the moment I have to store stuff in cupboards and haul them out when required.

My flour isn't all that fancy, its just a big 10 kilo bag of baker's flour. slightly (and i do mean slightly) higher protein content than the regular store brand flour. but it comes in a sturdy 10 kilo bag and ends up costing less per 100g than the smaller store brand flours. would be interesting to experiment with fancy flours but this is supposed to be a cheap hobby for me so i don't want to invest too much into it.

the cornflour on the stone is good (seems more "authentic" to me as that's how the pizzas are made in the US), but it won't stop the dough from sticking to the peel, i have only had success with regular flour. meh, its not a big deal to me either but the wife says its a bit bitter.

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My flour isn't all that fancy, its just a big 10 kilo bag of baker's flour. slightly (and i do mean slightly) higher protein content than the regular store brand flour. but it comes in a sturdy 10 kilo bag and ends up costing less per 100g than the smaller store brand flours. would be interesting to experiment with fancy flours but this is supposed to be a cheap hobby for me so i don't want to invest too much into it.

the cornflour on the stone is good (seems more "authentic" to me as that's how the pizzas are made in the US), but it won't stop the dough from sticking to the peel, i have only had success with regular flour. meh, its not a big deal to me either but the wife says its a bit bitter.

Americans use cornmeal for every damn thing, not sure that it necessarily lends authenticity!

Personally I don't like the slightly gritty texture it lends to the crust. So I just put up with the slight bitterness from flour.

Higher protein does make the dough better, easier to handle and nicely stretchy to eat. Fancy flours are unreasonably expensive and not always as advertised in any case. A handful of gluten flour added to the dough will do the same thing, for less cost. Or, food importers/wholesalers often sell the 10 kg bags of strong flour, for bread and pasta.

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Americans use cornmeal for every damn thing, not sure that it necessarily lends authenticity!

Personally I don't like the slightly gritty texture it lends to the crust. So I just put up with the slight bitterness from flour.

Higher protein does make the dough better, easier to handle and nicely stretchy to eat. Fancy flours are unreasonably expensive and not always as advertised in any case. A handful of gluten flour added to the dough will do the same thing, for less cost. Or, food importers/wholesalers often sell the 10 kg bags of strong flour, for bread and pasta.

well, authentic to me means "american-style" pizza - perhaps i should have added that disclaimer :P

i quite like the corn meal but its not an indispensible element to be sure. agreed re: gluten flour. a little bit makes a huge difference.

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well, authentic to me means "american-style" pizza - perhaps i should have added that disclaimer :P

i quite like the corn meal but its not an indispensible element to be sure. agreed re: gluten flour. a little bit makes a huge difference.

Napoli was the inventor I'm unreliably informed urch. America commercialised the product. :pizza:

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On the simple pizza with stone, may I recommend some Fresh herbs.

Dill on a simple seafood (bonzer on a smoke salmon with cream cheese): Coriander Leaves (Cilantro) with some chicken on a Tandoori/Satay base (maybe a touch of Chives or Shallots as well); Oregano with semi dried toms and some artichoke etc etc

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On the simple pizza with stone, may I recommend some Fresh herbs.

Dill on a simple seafood (bonzer on a smoke salmon with cream cheese): Coriander Leaves (Cilantro) with some chicken on a Tandoori/Satay base (maybe a touch of Chives or Shallots as well); Oregano with semi dried toms and some artichoke etc etc

I do agree with urchin that ingredients should be extremely limited. 4 max. TP try marinara with garlic/rosemary olive oil and salt. God I miss Melbourne.

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Marinara Mix? Drizzled with garlic/rosemary olive oil and salt?

Cheeses? Anything else?

No cheese. Nice and thin. Trust me. Oh and some fresh basil on top if you like. And possibly some fresh chillies and anchovies. :)

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Thanks.

I buy the odd two cooked chooks at Woolies on special and pull the meat off and ditch the skin/bone (dogs lurv skin), chop up then have with cos lettuce chunks, finely chopped bacon, chopped boil egg and parmesan lashed everywhere with a creamy Caesar dressing. Thats a feed 1.

The next day, I often have chopped cooked chook left. Put some peanut butter in a saucepan (or blend peanuts, same outcome more cleaning) with a touch of coconut milk; Add some good quality curry powder, salt. When it start starts to liquid adjust the coco, curry and salt.

Spread on base, add chicken and Coriander leaves in lashings (and some basil). Bake...enjoy.

Satay Chicken pizza is not de rigeur but hell, its nice.

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Thanks.

I buy the odd two cooked chooks at Woolies on special and pull the meat off and ditch the skin/bone (dogs lurv skin), chop up then have with cos lettuce chunks, finely chopped bacon, chopped boil egg and parmesan lashed everywhere with a creamy Caesar dressing. Thats a feed 1.

The next day, I often have chopped cooked chook left. Put some peanut butter in a saucepan (or blend peanuts, same outcome more cleaning) with a touch of coconut milk; Add some good quality curry powder, salt. When it start starts to liquid adjust the coco, curry and salt.

Spread on base, add chicken and Coriander leaves in lashings (and some basil). Bake...enjoy.

Satay Chicken pizza is not de rigeur but hell, its nice.

:drool:

If you've got a verandah I'm there. I'll bring desert. And the aeroguard.

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:drool:

If you've got a verandah I'm there. I'll bring desert. And the aeroguard.

90m2 we can pay cricket on it, fully covered and on the 2nd storey.

If you are coming its Beef Welly or Butter Chicken with associated bits.

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