I got the idea for making these kinda cunning little beauties from our friend Ellen, who brings these wonderful little cucumber sammiches to gatherings where she bakes the bread in a star-shaped tube. I don’t have one of those tubes, but I do happen to have a tin of assorted size star cutters – left over from my (really pathetic) attempt to make a Flinstone’s Christmas Tree out of Fruity Pebbles cereal. *sigh* some things were just not meant to be.
But this tasty little nibble makes up for that!
•1-1/2 cup warm (110º) water
•2 tsp yeast
•1 tsp honey
•3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
(+ more later, if needed)
•1/2 cup whole wheat flour
•1 tsp seasoned salt
•1 tsp sea salt
•1/2 tsp Tellicherry pepper
•2 tbsp olive oil
Stir the yeast into the warm water and honey in the bowl of your mixer fitted with the dough hook and set aside for 10 or 15 minutes until the yeast foams up like this:
Whisk together the all-purpose and whole flours with the seasoned salt, sea salt, and black pepper in another bowl.
Add the olive oil and three cups of the flour to the yeast and mix on low (my mixer, speed two) for two minutes.
With the mixer still running on low, add the remaining flour by tablespoonfuls until the mixture begins to pull away from the sides of the bowl and into a ball. Use the additional half cup of all-purpose flour here if you need to.
Note: if the dough looks too dry, go ahead and add a tablespoon of water or two; remember last week’s Food for Thought: You are the boss of that dough!
Increase the mixer speed to medium and knead the dough for four minutes, until it is…WAIT FOR IT… smooth and elastic.
Happily, the dough will have also pretty much cleaned the sides of the bowl, so when you remove and shape it into a ball, she can now add a nice splash of olive oil to the mixing bowl and return the dough ball to it, turning to coat all sides with the olive oil.
Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and set aside to rise for at least one, but up to four or five hours (much longer than that and you should just pop it into a bag in the fridge and come back another day).
The dough is ready whenever it’s risen to double its original size, but a little extra rising time won’t hurt, and some folk believe it allows the dough to develop a more complex flavor. I base my timing on when I’m ready to work with it again.
When you ARE ready to work with it, uncover, punch the dough down, and let it rest for ten minutes.
Divide the dough in half, then – for this application – into quarters.
Dust a flat surface with corn meal, then roll out one of the dough quarters – you don’t want this dough too thin, it’ll make the cut pieces hard to handle.
Cut the dough into stars – I used three different sizes to try to get as much out of each rolled out section of dough as I could – and transfer the cut pieces to a parchment lined baking sheet. Gather any leftover dough together and set aside.
Repeat with the remaining dough quarters; and add any leftover dough bits to your reserved pile (we’ll be dealing with that later).
Heat your oven to 375º.
Brush each star with a bit of olive oil, then dust the pan with sea salt, Aleppo, and Tellicherry pepper, then cover with plastic wrap and set aside to rest for 30 minutes.
Note: I prepare and bake one pan at a time – a bit more than 1/4 of the dough used for each – preparing the next pan while the previous one is resting.
Bake for eight to twelve minutes, until the bread is lightly golden brown and some pieces have puffed up a bit.
Transfer your cooked flatbread stars to a rack to cool.
I keep mine in a large zipper bag, and they seem to stay nicely fresh for up to five days – tho’ I am now making a batch every couple of days and popping the cooled bags of stars in the freezer so I’ll have a ready supply for holiday gatherings.
Oh, and those leftover dough bits?
I didn’t want to use to for more stars – I was afraid another round (or two) of rolling and cutting and gathering would make for tough bits of bread – so I gathered the remaining dough into a ball and stashed it in a zipper bag in the fridge over night before taking it out, allowing it to come up to room temperature, and making something completely different – but still quite tasty – with it.
“What?” you ask?
Well, we have to cover a couple of other things first, bourbon and cider roast chicken on Monday, then honey mustard on Tuesday.
Full details on THIS nice little bit of leftover inspiration on Wednesday, I think.