First things first, I have a confession to make. After the agonising olive uncertainty that plagued the focaccia (please, read all about it if you haven’t already), I discovered that a whole tub of Kalamata olives was sitting untouched in the back of the fridge, silently snickering at me during the whole process. Infuriating.
More importantly, despite the olive discovery, I was very excited to jump into my second challenge. I even invited people over for dinner, I was just feeling so upbeat about my mad skillz in the kitchen after the successful focaccia. Following post one I had received a flurry of new ideas and links and one recommendation was to check out Sydney blogger ‘not quite Nigella’. She had what looked like a delicious recipe for a stuffed Turkish pide, complete with photos approximately 20,000x more fabulous than I can take. I was sold.
I had never tasted a so-called “Turkish pizza” before so I was not 100% certain what to look for. Despite that I am reasonably sure I didn’t find it. My end result was…kinda hard and crunchy. The pide dough didn’t stay folded in all nicely, so I had juices running out and about and a visual that looked more like a mangled tortilla boat than a Middle Eastern delight. Basically I made reasonably yum Turkish flavoured mince and then forced my guests to eat it out of a not-very-attractive gluten-full taco. It was laden with very inauthentic melted cheese which covered a multitude of sins, but I bet they left thinking of ways to excuse themselves from the next blog experiment. Good luck to them.
I only used half the dough (the recipe serves 8) and then refrigerated the other half and gallantly tried for round two the day after. This time the results were slightly better, in the sense that the dough was more pliable. It was nice enough to eat it straight out of the oven, but I suspect that the bottom would have quickly become a soggy mincy mess if left to its own uneaten devices. I tried for a third and final time the day after that and I do think it improved again. It’s possible* that the first iteration was badly overcooked.
Given that this is a food blog it might be a controversial move, but I am not going to publish recipes that I wouldn’t personally make again. That said, it’s my blog and I’ll do what I want, so food blog conventions be damned! Here is the link to the original recipe, should you wish to reference that. And here are my questions…
1. Shouldn’t I let the yeast do the bubbly thing before I start mixing it? This recipe dumped yeast, sugar, oil and flour into the mixer and got right down to business. My limited experience tells me that yeast prefers to take a few minutes to get to know the other buddies before it feels comfortable enough to do its thing properly. Maybe I’m projecting?
2. How long should I be mixing my dough on a low speed for? “Until elastic” is far too vague an instruction for a novice like me. I faffed around for 9 minutes and the mixture was still crumbly af, so I turned the mess out onto the counter and anxiously hand kneaded it for another 5 minutes.
At that point the dough was recognisably dough, but arguably not elastic. I gave up and left it to rise, which it seemed to do.
3. Where does one get capsicum paste? This was casually called for in the mince ingredients, but while I can deduce what it probably is, I cannot tell you much else. One thing I can say for sure is it’s not readily available at my local grocery store. I don’t think the mince missed this paste, but it does irritate me when recipes blithely assume you can easily access some uncommon ingredient to such an extent that they don’t even mention “available at specialty food stores” or “if you can’t find this then substitute a completely haphazard combination of pomegranate molasses and a random capsicum chutney, that is obviously going to work perfectly”.
4. Should my oven be 200°C at bake or fanbake? For my guests I went with the halfway house of 190°C fanbake and that seemed insufficient, although two trays in the oven might be more than its wee gassy self can handle. For my second attempt I tried 200°C fan and a single tray. I also decided to take it out lighter (to avoid the crunchiness) so I basically conducted a truly useless experiment and can draw no conclusions.
5. Should I just have taken the first ones out earlier instead of waiting for them to get more deliciously brown?
6. Should I have used a different Turkish pizza recipe?
7. Should I have used a different Italian pizza recipe?
8. Should I have used a different not-pizza recipe?
So where did I go wrong (assuming I went wrong. I mean maybe pides are supposed to be strangely crunchy, I found very little firm information on the matter)? I’ve identified a truckload of potential areas, but I’m still not 100% sure…maybe as I get smarter and breadlier I’ll develop a whole lot of baker’s intuition and be able to solve this riddle. Future self, I believe in you.
Stuffed Turkish pides can get stuffed for the time being. Next stop has to be something sweet right? Current front runners are this raspberry swirl brioche or the crazy Ottolenghi chocolate babka (NB: I will work from the book recipe, not this blog adaptation given my above-mentioned questions).