Friday, August 23, 2013

No Yeast Flatbread Recipe

Life is Good: and flavorful!

Last week, one of my friends and I met for pedicures to celebrate my birthday. My birthday was in mid-July, but it was the first time we could get together. It was so sweet of her to want to celebrate and treat me to one of my favorite toes!

We had so much to chat about that we ducked in to a little restaurant a few doors away from our nail spot for something to nibble and some good gabbing. We ordered a flatbread and a fizzy drink of seltzer, agave, and grapefruit. Both were divine. Our conversation hit on some really thought-provoking points. Important things like friendship as a grown up and faith and supportive relationships and expectations and children and family time and more. Important subject matter that I hope to revisit and ponder when my mind isn't so full of back to school. (Did I mention that the big kid starts kindergarten next week? KINDERGARTEN. KINDERGARTEN!)

Well, the next morning, I was still thinking about that flatbread! And at lunch. And so by dinner, well, you know what was on the menu!

I did a quick google search for a flatbread recipe and decided on this one, primarily because I didn't want to take the time to experiment with yeast. The ingredients are simple and all staples, so away I went! I told my hubs to get ready for a "Flatbread Extravaganza" as I pulled out olives and artichokes, cooked chicken, caramelized onions, and sliced fresh mozzarella. With all of my flavor combo ideas, I needed to double the recipe. This is a super big no-no in my book. Make two batches at once, sure. But never double the recipe because baking is a science and no, flatbread is not baking, but it does involved flour, right? And never double or change a recipe the first time you try it. C'mon. These are rudimentary principals that you created yourself. Stick to the rules. Follow the plan. Except, this recipe is so simple. So easy. So, go ahead. Double away. So I did. I doubled the olive oil and the water and the salt and then I started dumping the flour in just as I realized that I only had 3 cups of flour and I would need four. Wait a minute! Put on the brakes! Remember that whole stick to the rules thing you just read a few lines up? Now you know why you should not double the recipe! (And why you should gather all of the ingredients first before combining. And we all say a collective, "DUH!"

If I was going to salvage the ingredients and if we were going to have flatbread for dinner--flatbread I had been thinking about all. day. long. --then I was going to have to improvise. Aha. Another kitchen rule to be broken. Never improvise the first time you try a recipe!

I decided to add a cup of cornmeal to my 3 cups of flour and other doubled ingredients. At worst, the flatbread would be crunchier, right? Well, the cornmeal required more water, which made the dough a little wetter than it is supposed to be and it did have a "corn-like" flavor, but it worked. The kiddos loved it and the hubs and I gave it a B+.

My second dalliance with flatbread came with more success. I made one batch (foregoing the "doubling" idea) and added some herbs. Here is my version of the recipe with notes. Below it, you'll find some of our favorite topping combinations.

No Yeast Flatbread Recipe
2 cups flour (I have used all-purpose and whole wheat)
3/4 cups water (you might need to add a little more depending on your climate, etc)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt (or regular salt)
1 T. olive oil or cooking spray
1 T. minced garlic
dried herbs (such as basil, oregano,  cilantro, thyme, etc)
garlic salt (onion salt will work, too)

1. In a mixing bowl, add the flour, water, minced garlic and salt. Mix until the dough is flaky and pretty dry to the touch. You do want it to stick together, just not too wet. If you want an herbed crust, add your favorite herb or herb combination to the dough and mix gingerly.

2. Flour a flat surface and knead the dough for a minute or so. Divide the dough into four pieces (lumps). Divide into more pieces for smaller or individual-sized flatbread crusts.

3.  Flour a rolling pin and roll out the dough until it's as thick or thin as you like it. The thinner you roll it, the crunchier your flatbread will be. I prefer to make the flatbread rustic looking, so I did not try to make mine a symmetrical shape. Carefully shake a small amount of garlic salt around the edges of the crust. This is really the key to making this flatbread delicious. Either use the garlic salt or add herbs to the crust. Otherwise, it is pretty bland, in my opinion.

4. Coat the bottom of a pan with olive oil or cooking spray and heat on medium. I used a stovetop grill pan. I also think these would be fun to cook on the grill outside. You can also use a skillet. The flatbread cooks very quickly. Leave it on long enough to get some char, but not long enough to burn it. Cooking times vary with stoves. I made my flatbread a little thicker than thin. That sounds scientific, huh? And mine took about 4 minutes on each side to cook with char marks.

5. You will know that it is time to flip your flatbread to the other side when you see the edges crisp up and the inside looks less doughy. The original recipe says that the dough will get bubbly but mine has not so far.

6. Top your flatbread and put under the broiler to melt cheese, warm ingredients, etc. Again, how long depends on your oven and your ingredients. I would check every 1-2 minutes to avoid a catastrophe. Catastrophe = no flatbread.

Some of my favorite topping combinations are:
Margherita: tomato, basil, fresh mozzarella (or regular mozzarella is fine)
Artichoke, tomato, spinach, green olive, fresh mozzarella (similar to a pizza from our favorite neighborhood place)
Caramelized onion, goat cheese, red peppers (roasted or raw), mozzarella
Sausage, red peppers, tomato sauce, mozzarella (tastes like lasagna)
Caramelized onion, mushroom, red pepper, mozzarella
Truffled artichoke, shitake mushroom, ricotta (from the restaurant that inspired this all!)

I also think this flatbread would be divine with green or kalamata olive tapenade, which is super easy to make.

"Cooking is at once child's play and adult joy. And cooking done with care is an act of love." (Craig Claiborne)

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