I've never been much of a bread baker. From
various problems, like dough that won’t rise, to lack of time to dedicate to
multiple kneadings, I never much liked baking bread. A weekend away in
Vermont changed my mind. This flatbread was so easy and such a success that I
hope it is the sign of many bready things to come.
What makes this grilled flatbread so awesome is the array potential toppings: fresh tomatoes, hot peppers, creamy avocados…I decided to combine green charmoula sauce with homemade ricotta cheese. The bread and charmoula recipe follow below. Mia graciously supplied the ricotta, and perhaps I will try out her recipe myself down the line...
Recipe Adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine July’12 by Charlie Hollowell
1 jalapeño, stem removed
1 cup of extra virgin olive oil
½ cup flat-leaf parsley leaves
½ cup fresh cilantro leaves
½ cup fresh mint leaves
1 tsp chopped peeled ginger
Salt and pepper
Ok this recipe is really easy. Purée all of the ingredients in a blender or food processor. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Voila!
To be honest I didn't really measure anything that went in here except the oil. I just put bunches of green stuff in and added more until I liked the taste. I added extra ginger too, reflected in the amount above. Could even use more jalapeno for an extra kick. Also, don’t go crazy about removing stems of the herbs, it’s a hassle and does not make a huge difference if some are still in there. This sauce will develop more flavor as it sits, so be sure to let it chill for at least an hour if possible. You can make it a day ahead of time and store in the fridge too.
Recipe Adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine July’12 by Chad Robertson
2 ¼ tsp of active dry yeast (or one packet)
1 tsp sugar
¼ cup of warm water
2 ¾ cup warm water
4 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
2 ¼ cups whole wheat flour
2 Tbsp kosher salt
½ cup sour cream
Start by proofing your yeast. To do this stir the dry active yeast into the warm 1/4 cup of water. Make sure the water is not to warm or too cold or the yeast won't proof. It should be about 100-100°F. Stir in the teaspoon of sugar. This feeds the yeast. Let the yeast sit for about ten minutes until it doubles in volume and looks foamy. This means it's ready to go!
Now it’s time to add the proofed yeast to the rest of the water and combine with the flours in a large bowl. Mix with your finger until you get a shaggy messy dough. Cover the bowl and let rest for twenty minutes at room temperature. Go help Mia on her thousand-piece puzzle.
Now comes the fun part! (And frankly the part I always found the most intimidating) As it turns out, it's not that hard at all; you just have to have confidence that you will survive and come out on the other end victorious. It also helps to have fellow bread bakers on hand to give opinions about consistency.
Sprinkle the salt on top of the dough and add the sour cream. Start kneading the dough. This will be very messy at first on account of the sour cream, but it will mix in, I promise. Usually I would knead dough on a flat surface, but I was grateful to be kneading in a large shallow bowl this time because of the messiness.
To knead, push the dough out away from you with the palms of your hand. Fold the dough over in half and give it a quarter turn (or the bowl). Repeat this process for five minutes until the dough forms a loose wet ball and pulls away from the sides of the bowl. To be honest I was doing this for more than five minutes because the dough was so sticky. After a while, Alex's aunt Kris came over and suggested I add a 1/4-1/2 cup of more flour to compensate for the humid weather that was making the dough so sticky. I added total of a 1/2 cup more flour bit by bit and was ready to go.
Next, cover the dough and let rise at room temperature for 30 minutes. Back to the puzzle. Return to the dough and knead about four more times to deflate. Now it's time to wait for the dough to double in volume. You can either do this by letting it rest covered with plastic wrap in the fridge overnight, or you can let it rise at room temperature covered for 3-4 hours.
I left my dough in the kitchen and only it needed 2.5 hours for it to double because it was so humid and warm. Next, you can put the dough in the fridge for an hour to chill and make it easier to handle.
Now to cook! Fire up that grill! Divide your dough into eight pieces (it’s a lot of dough, but I promised you flatbread will all be eaten in a matter of seconds) As you go, stretch out your dough to a 1/4" thick shape. We made rectangles.
Brush your grill rack with oil to prevent sticking and drape two to three flatbreads on the grill. Grill for about 2-3 minutes until a char forms on the underside. They should be easy to flip by now. Grill on the other side for another 2-3 minutes. We discovered as we went along that we liked our breads on the thicker side with a good char.
Serve warm with the green charmoula and ricotta. Wait for the swarms of people come in for a bite.