Start this bread the morning of (or the night before) you want to serve it, because you'll need to let the 'sponge' sit for at least 8 hours - a sponge is a mixture of yeast, flour, and water allowed to ferment, resulting in more interesting flavor and lighter texture to a bread recipe.
To make the sponge, dissolve one packet of yeast (about 2 and 1/4 teaspoons) in 1 cup warm water (check with a thermometer to make sure the water is between 100 and 110 degrees). Let stand for 5 minutes.
Lightly spoon 1 cup bread flour into a measuring cup, and level with a knife. Add to the yeast mixture, and stir well to combine. Cover and let stand at least 8 hours and up to overnight, to create the sponge - the mixture should be very bubbly, signaling that your yeast is alive and well.
About an hour before the sponge is finished, remove the white papery outer skin from a whole garlic head, but don't peel or separate the cloves. Wrap the garlic head in aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.
Let stand for 10 minutes before squeezing out the garlic pulp, so you don't burn your fingers! Discard the skins. Combine the pulp with 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 teaspoon salt, mashing with a fork until you have a smooth mixture. Stir into the sponge - I was actually surprised by this step, as I've read in the past that garlic kills yeast, but perhaps cooking it the garlic first negates this fact, because my bread still rose beautifully.
Lightly spoon 2 cups more bread flour into measuring cups, leveling with a knife. Stir into the sponge until you have a soft dough. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead for about 8 minutes, adding up to a 1/4 cup more bread flour as needed so the dough doesn't stick to your hands, (although your end product should still be tacky). To knead: punch dough down with the flat of your palm, fold it in half, turn it a quarter turn, and repeat until the 8 minutes are up!
Place the dough in a bowl coated with cooking spray, turning so the top of the dough is coated as well. Cover and let rise for 45 minutes - ideally some place about 85 degrees and free from drafts.
Punch the the dough down and let it rest for 5 minutes, then divide in half; roll each half into a 10-inch circle.
Place one of those circles on a baking sheet or pizza pan sprinkled with 1 teaspoon cornmeal. Sprinkle the dough with 1/4 cup chopped basil, leaving about a 1/4-inch border. Top that with 3/4 cup chopped bottled roasted red bell peppers and 1/2 cup shredded vegan cheese in place of fontina - I used the vegan mozzarella from Galaxy Foods. Arrange the other dough circle on top, and pinch the edges to seal. Lightly coat the top of the dough with cooking spray, then cover and let rise for 45 minutes.
I learned a nifty trick from watching Food Network for moving rolled-out dough from a work surface to a baking sheet - roll it loosely around the rolling pin you've just used, carry the rolling pin over to the baking pan, and then unroll the dough - it helps the circle keep its shape nicely.
Uncover the dough and make a few indentations in the top with a knife - I wasn't sure how many so just made a few shallow notches. Brush the top of the dough with 1 and 1/2 teaspoons olive oil, and sprinkle with 1/4 tsp. salt. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes; remove from the oven and cool on a wire rack.
Divide this into 14 wedges, each of which is 150 calories. It's delicious alongside a bowl of soup or a salad for dinner!
yeast packets $2.69
garlic head $1.17
bottled roasted red bell pepper $6.99
vegan cheese $3.39
The Vegan Pantry
- Vegan yogurt - Whole Soy http://www.wholesoyco.com/
- Vegan milk - Silk http://www.silksoymilk.com/
- Vegan Feta - Sunergia http://www.sunergiasoyfoods.com/
- Vegan Cheese - Galaxy Foods http://www.galaxyfoods.com/
- Vegan Eggs - Ener-G http://www.ener-g.com/
- Vegan Butter - Earth Balance http://www.earthbalance.net/product.html