02 March 2010

Flatbreads ... What a Cinch!

Bread and I have a checkered past. There have been times when I have been wildly successful making herb and anadama breads, pizza doughs, cinnamon raisin bread, and oatmeal bread and then... there have been dismal failures. I just won't go there with you.

Last evening, I tried making a new type of bread that has been around for millenia - flatbread. I found a basic dough recipe in a cookbook on Mediterranean cuisine and then cross-referenced with a couple bread cookbooks that I have. Then, I looked at my rosemary topiary that needed a bit of a trim and thought I'd kill two birds with one stone. The result was a bread board with four flatbreads topped with kosher salt, black pepper, fresh snipped rosemary, olive oil, and freshly grated Parmesan.

These are so simple to make that it's practically obscene. The next time I make them, I'm thinking of getting a bit jazzier with the toppings ... perhaps some grated Asagio cheese, some roasted red pepper strips, or sun-dried tomatoes, a bit of carmelized onion and tiny clumps of feta cheese? It seems the possibilities are endless.

Now, you might think to yourself that these are only pizzas under another name ... no. The key here is just a smattering of toppings ( a la Foccacio bread, but thinner) ... you don't want to get the flatbreads all soggy. You offer just a hint of flavor in a bite, hence the toppings are sparse, but there. And THAT'S a beautiful thing because you can make four different flatbreads from one dough recipe and just a tiny bit of your supplies of the different flavors in your cupboards and fridge. Go crazy!  And... let me know what combos you come up with!

Now, if you don't happen to eat all of your flatbread in one sitting, store the remainder loosely covered. If you put them in an air-tight bag, they tend to soften up, which is fine if you like that, but I'm big on the crispy crust, so loosely covered is the way I go. I'm just saying...

Flatbread Dough - printer friendly


Basic Flatbread Dough
Oven: 450º F – bake for 7 or 8 minutes


1 envelope of active dry yeast or just under 1 Tbsp. loose dry yeast
1 cup warm water (between 100º and 105º F)
2½ c. unbleached flour
½ c. semolina flour
2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/4 c. olive oil
kosher salt
extra olive oil for rubbing the bowl and dough ball
spices and toppings

Making the Dough:

1. Proof the yeast by adding it to the warm water, stirring it to dissolve, and leaving it for ten minutes to foam up.

2. Meanwhile, whisk the dry ingredients together in a mixing bowl.

3. Add the yeast mixture and olive oil to the dry ingredients all at once. Stir to combine and when there is a rime of flour and olive oil around the edge of the bowl, scrape the dough out onto a cool surface and begin to knead the rest of the flour into the dough.

4. Scrape all the flour and olive oil rime out onto the dough ball and continue to knead for about 3 minutes, until the dough doesn’t stick to your hands, becomes elastic and the semolina ‘graininess’ is incorporated throughout the dough.

5. Clean out the bread bowl, rub it with olive oil, toss the dough ball in and turn it to cover it with olive oil, cover the bowl with a clean towel.

6. Place the bowl someplace warm (around 85º or 90º F), spritz the towel with water to provide humidity and leave the dough to rise for about one hour.

7. Divide the dough into four equal lumps, roll out or shape with your hands into rounds that are 1/8-inch thick. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with kosher salt and any herbs you wish.

8. Bake in a very hot oven – I pre-heated a pizza pan and placed the dough right onto the hot pan. This ensures a crispy crust.

9. Bake for 7 minutes until the flatbreads are lightly browned and crisped at the edges.

Remember to brush with olive oil first. This helps the toppings to stay in place. Some topping suggestions: sun-dried tomato strips, caramelized onion strips, Asagio cheese, Parmesan cheese, rosemary, oregano, roasted garlic slather, roasted red pepper strips.

1 comment:

  1. They look delicious - I can imagine the other flavours you can add to this! And thanks for the tip on how to store them - I too enjoy crispy crust!


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