Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Perfect Pizza Dough


Pizza dough may seem like a scary idea, but it's actually one of the easiest things to make from scratch. After all, as Wolfgang Puck has said, "Pizza dough only has 6 ingredients: flour, salt, olive oil, honey, yeast and water. That's it, it's so simple!"

I've had this recipe bookmarked for awhile, but when I was looking for a pizza dough recipe I wanted to make sure it was full proof, easy to make and of course, delicious.

What makes home made pizza extra delicious is being able to customize it however you like. Whether you stick with simply tomato sauce, change it up with a pesto sauce or no sauce at all, each pizza will have it's own flavour and one will never have to taste the same.

I like to stretch out my dough with my fingers tips, but if you are afraid of ripping the dough a rolling pin is fine too. You should get a nice tender and slightly chewy crust from this pizza. After you make this dough you will want to make it again and again, and for all your friends because it actually is that easy. Just make sure you follow the directions carefully, I have attached a video from Food Wishes for the recipe which will help once you have mixed the dough together.

Perfect Pizza Dough
Serves 4
  • 1 package active dry (2 1/4 tsp)
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 cup warm water, 105 to 115 degrees
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus additional for brushing
  • Toppings of your choice
  1. In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast and honey in 1/4-cup really warm water. Mix well and let it dissolve for about 10-15 minutes.
  2. Then into the bowl add salt, olive oil and 3/4 cup of equally warm water and a cup of flour. Stir that until it becomes a batter
  3. Into the batter add another cup of flour, mix well and then another 1/2 cup of flour. There should be 2 1/2 cups total in the bowl which you will stir until it is too thick to stir.
  4. Once the dough becomes to thick to stir, move it to the board with 1/4 cup of flour sprinkled on the board. Knead the dough by hand for about 5-10 minutes till you get a smooth, firm and slightly sticky dough. Add the rest of the 1/4 cup of flour if you feel the dough is still too sticky.
  5. Place the dough back into a clean bowl, coating it with a bit of olive oil and cover the dough with a clean, damp towel. Let it rise in a warm spot for 30-40 minutes. I turned on my oven to 200°F for about 5 minutes, turned it off and then put my dough in the oven. The dough should almost double in size and will stretch as it is lightly pulled when ready.
  6. Once the dough has risen, place it onto a floured surface and pat it down to deflate it. Divide the dough into four sections like you are cutting four pieces of a pie. Take one of the sections and pull the corners down underneath to create a ball. Pull down the sides and tuck the underneath the bottom till you have a ball. Do this to the rest of the sections.
  7. Cover the dough with a damp towel and let rest 15 to 20 minutes. At this point, the balls can be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated for up to 2-3 days.
  8. Place a pizza stone on the middle rack of the oven and preheat the oven to 450°F. If you don't have a pizza stone a baking pan is fine, but make sure to oil the pan.
  9. To prepare each pizza, dip the ball of dough into flour, shake off the excess flour, place the dough on a clean, lightly floured surface, and start to stretch the dough. Press down on the center, spreading the dough into an 8-inch circle, use your fingers to make the crust. Lightly brush the inner circle of the dough with olive oil and arrange the topping of your choice over the inner circle.
  10. Using a cutting board, slide the pizza onto the pizza stone, or baking pan and let it bake for 15 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Transfer the pizza to a firm surface and cut into slices with a pizza cutter or very sharp knife. Serve immediately.
Recipe from Wolfgang Puck

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Afternoon Tea at the Banff Springs


The tradition of afternoon tea began in the mid 19th century when the Duchess of Bedford, Anna Maria Stanhope, would have small meals in late afternoon with tea. Lunch was normally served at noon but dinner was not served until later in the evening at 8 or 9 o'clock. The period between the two meals would leave the Duchess with a "sinking feeling" as she felt the meal at noon was inadequate. She began to have a small meal with tea in the later afternoon and would invite her friends to join her. Their meal consisted of small sandwiches, cakes and sweet pastries and of course tea. This tradition has carried on to this day where you can find afternoon tea at high end hotels or even small bed and breakfasts.

Although afternoon tea is sometimes called high tea, they are in fact two different things. High tea is more of an early dinner which is also known as meat tea. Traditionally high tea is served with meat, fish, eggs, bread and cakes along with tea and is then followed by a lighter meal in the later evening. It is probably used to describe afternoon tea since it sounds more elite but high tea is actually what the common people would eat.


The Fairmont Banff Springs serves a very traditional afternoon tea. Afternoon tea at the Banff Springs is exceptionally special as you get a view like no other. Their tea room is located in the Rundle Lounge which looks out to the Bow Valley river with the great Rocky Mountains in the background.


The meal begins with your selection of teas, the Banff Springs has 12 to offer. They have a variety of tea from black tea to herbal or organic tea. We had the Banff Springs Blend which was a beautiful rich black tea that had a hint of fruity flavour and the Vanilla Orchid which had the flavour of vanilla and a splash of pomegranate.

As you wait for you tea to steep, you are served fresh seasonal fruit to cleanse the palate.


We were then served our tier of delectable pastries, sweets and dainty sandwiches. The sandwiches we had were English cucumber, smoked salmon, egg salad and spicy ham with cream cheese. We also had a Victorian scone on the side with devonshire cream and strawberry jam.

Afternoon tea can be a very costly afternoon, $30-$50 a person. So if you do decide to go for afternoon tea, the Banff Springs will make it worth your while as you get an exceptional view while you enjoy your tea.

Reservations are recommended and can be booked by calling dining reservations line at (403) 762-6860
Fairmont Banff Springs
405 Spray Avenue
Banff, Alberta

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