I was chatting with my friend Barb – no, not Barb of Barb and Bob (not to be confused with Bob and Don); Barb of Barb and Justin – and she was commenting on the fact that her two active little sons kept her from working all that much with bread because of the attention required to rise times and punching down and such; and that put me in mind of the flat bread/stromboli and ‘Za doughs, and the fact that, if you had the time, it was suggested that leaving the dough for a second, one hour, rise would really develop the flavor and texture.
Which then got me to thinking…
We’ve had Rich’s mom with us for the week, and have been busy with barbecues and going places and, well, just busy. Mom likes a bit of bread now and again, but tries to avoid any with milk or other dairy in it or on it, so I thought the flat bread would be perfect, and I was correct; she loved it. SO, I decided to make another batch (it is simple enough), but this time, I tossed the dough together and set it in a warm, snug spot to rise just before we headed out on a mission for to buy stuff for Teh Garden and mebbe a pie at the Elegant Farmer (well, there was NO ‘mebbe’ about buying a pie – Rich cannot resist all that brown paper bag goodness). All told, the dough was left to its own devices to rise and bubble and develop flavor and texture for about 5 hours. The result? Best. Flat Bread. Ever.
•3-1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus an additional 1/2 cup, if needed
•1/2 cup rye + 1/2 cup flour later, if needed
•1 tsp seasoned salt
•1 tsp sea salt
•1/2 tsp Tellicherry pepper
•1-1/2 cup warm water (110º)
•2 tsp yeast
•1 tsp honey
•2 tbsp olive oil
Whisk together 3-1/2 cups of all purpose flour and the rye flour together with the salt and pepper in a medium bowl.
Stir together the warm water and the honey, then add the yeast in the bowl of your stand mixer and let it stand for 15 minutes until the mixture foams.
Add the olive oil and 3 cups of the flour mixture and mix, using the dough hook attachment, on low (I use speed setting 2 on my Cuisinart) for 2 minutes.
With the mixer still running on low, add the remaining flour by tablespoonfulls until the mixture pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Use the additional 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour if you need to. I have needed it when using a combination of all-purpose and whole wheat flours, but not with this blend of all-purpose and rye; tho’ I have added an additional 3 tbsp or so of cold water to help the dough come together.
Increase mixer speed to medium and let the dough hook do its thing for 4 minutes.
The dough should be smooth, elastic, and have pretty much totally cleaned the sides of the mixer bowl – a bonus, because I like to use the mixing bowl for rising and save a bit on the clean up.
Apply a bit of olive oil the cleaned sides of the mixing bowl – or you could use a large, fresh bowl.
Pull the dough from the dough hook, shape into a ball, and roll in the oiled bowl to coat all sides.
Cover tightly with plastic wrap, set in a warm spot, and – this is the best part – let rise for 1 to 5 hours, depending on your schedule.
Whenever you’ve come back to your dough, punch it down, recover tightly with plastic wrap, and let rise for an additional 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Now, we are ready to make some flat bread!
Punch the dough down one last time, let rest for 10 minutes, then shape into a ball, transfer to a lightly floured board, and divide in half (or quarters, if you prefer).
Shape each half (or quarter) into a ball by rolling on the board with the palm of your hand.
Heat oven to 375º.
Brush baking pans with olive oil (a 13 x 9 glass pan is perfect if you’ve divided the dough in half).
Roll each dough ball into a rectangle to about fit the baking pan, then place it in the pan, flipping the dough to coat it lightly with the olive oil.
Dimple the dough with your fingertips, sprinkle lightly with sea salt, the Tellicherry pepper, and the Aleppo pepper to taste.
Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rest for 30 minutes.
Remove the towel and bake for 20 minutes, until the bread is lightly puffed and golden, it should pop easily out of the baking pan.
Cool on a rack – or eat it hot and fresh from the oven (yum!).
We’ve had ours plain, alongside steaming hot bowls of clam chowder, and topped with a schmear of cream cheese with our morning coffee.
One (well, ermmm, two, actually). Fine. Flat Breads.