I’m feeling frustrated in the kitchen this week. I think the Heavenly Housewife jinxed me. In her comment on my last post, she complimented me on how well my baking always turns out. Ever since, things have not been turning out.
Take my chunky white chocolate, date and walnut cookies from earlier this week; I made them as part of the picnic we took to watch the tennis at Wimbledon yesterday. While they tasted OK, they were a bit too cloyingly sweet, a bit too dense and nothing special to look at. Certainly not a recipe I would encourage you to waste precious time and ingredients on.
Luckily, I’ve had one small success this week: stromboli. I had vaguely heard of stromboli when I saw it on Ele’s blog last week, but I couldn’t have told you what it was. Something edible and Italian? It turns out I was on the right track – stromboli is kind of like a rolled pizza, though it takes a bit more work and a bit more time (I misread the recipe, not realizing it required two rises, and we ended up eating dinner while watching the BBC 10pm news).
Think of rolling up a batch of savoury sticky buns, but instead of slicing and baking them individually, you form the roll into a coil and slash through it at intervals before putting it in the oven, so the filling melts and oozes out the sides of the roll: that’s stromboli.
The filling I used was a classic: fresh and sundried tomatoes, pesto and buffalo mozzarella. The nice, clean flavours were tasty rolled up into the plain, ever-so-slightly sweet dough; I didn’t like how crunchy the outside of the bread got (I am a lover of soft breads) but I especially liked the crispy bits of cheese that bubbled out of the dough and formed flat little cakes on the baking sheet!
Although I still prefer the pizza recipe my sister introduced me to, for two hungry diners stromboli makes a fun change from pizza night.
Recipe from Kitchenist, with some commentary from me
Serves 2 to 4 as a main course, depending on hunger levels!
250 g (2 cups) plain flour
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp instant (easy blend) yeast
2 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup warm water
1 Tbsp tomato paste
1/3 cup pesto
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes, drained and chopped
100 g (3.5 oz) ball of mozzarella, torn into small pieces
1 egg, beaten
- To make the dough, mix the flour, salt, sugar and yeast together in a large bowl. Drizzle in the olive oil, then pour in about half the water. Using a wooden spoon or a dough whisk, mix, adding more water as necessary, until you have a shaggy dough. It should be easily come together, but not be too wet to the touch. You can also do this in a stand mixer with the dough hook; use the hook to knead it and then transfer to a work surface and knead by hand of the last 2 to 3 minutes.
- Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 8 to 10 minutes. You may need to add flour to the surface as you go, to keep the dough from sticking. Shape the dough into a ball, lightly coat with olive oil and place it into a bowl. Cover with clingfilm or a damp tea towel and leave to rise for one hour.
- Knock back the dough by punching it gently in the bowl once or twice. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead for another 5 to 8 minutes. Shape into a ball, coat with oil and return to the bowl (covered) to rise for another hour.
- Preheat your oven to 200°C/400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.
- Knock back the dough again, and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll it into a rough rectangle of about 1/4″ thick, about 10″ X 16″.
- Thinly spread the tomato paste over the surface of the dough, within 1″ of the sides. Follow with the pesto, and then scatter the sundried tomatoes and torn mozzarella on top.
- Starting at the side nearest you, roll the dough tightly into a tube. Place onto the baking sheet and shape it into a circle, fitting one end inside the other. With a knife, slash through all but the bottom layer of dough. Gently stretch and fan each piece outward. I found that my circle ended up smaller than I expected, so I stretched the dough gently to make a larger one.
- With a pastry brush, brush all visible dough with some of the beaten egg. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is bubbling. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.