Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Brilliant Flatbread Recipe and Getting Creative with Brioche Dough

My friend Jill mentioned that she had some leftover brioche dough in her freezer and was planning on using it to make sticky buns. I also had frozen brioche since every time I make it there seems to be huge amount and I usually only use half of it. I used half of the half of my brioche to make a coffee cake filled with strawberry jam, and half to make a loaf filled with dark chocolate ganache. Both were amazing and once you have the dough made, easy to assemble. I rolled each piece of brioche into a rectangle. I spread warm chocolate ganache over one piece of dough and raspberry jam over the other. I rolled the dough spread with ganache from the short side of the rectangle into a loaf shape, sealed the long seam, and tucked the shorter edges under. Then I placed the dough into a loaf pan and baked it at 350F just until the crust was golden. Surprisingly, it turned out well though a bit squishy. Looks aside, it was delicious and quite rich.

The coffee cake was lighter and I used basically the same technique except that I rolled the dough lengthwise and formed it into a circle, sealing the ends together. I baked it on a sheet pan at 350F until lightly browned. Again, very tasty and quite fancy-pants looking.

Please see Jill's amazingly perfect sticky buns, and if you're interested, she has a link to the brioche recipe that she used.

This is my very favorite flatbread and it's quite a forgiving recipe, so if you're a novice bread baker this may be a good place to start. It is a yeast raised dough so the flatbreads end up being heftier, but at the same time less dense than something like a flour tortilla.

The recipe calls for amaranth flour in addition to wheat flour, and if your grocery store doesn't carry amaranth, you can easily find it online.

The recipe is from my new favorite baking book, Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce.

Olive oil for the bowl

1 package active dry yeast
1 tablespoon honey (or agave)
1/2 cup amaranth flour
3 cups all-purpose flour plus extra for kneading and dusting
1 tablespoon kosher salt

Olive oil for brushing
A pinch or two per flatbread of dried oregano, dried cumin, dried chile pepper, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, or other spices to taste
Kosher or sea salt

Lightly oil a large bowl to proof the dough in. Add 1 1/2 cups warm water, yeast, and honey to a bowl. Stir together to combine, and allow the yeast to bloom for about 5 minutes, until it begins to bubble. (If it doesn't, it may be inactive, throw it out and start over with a new package.)

Add the flours and salt to the yeast mixture and stir to combine. Scrape the dough onto a generously floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes, adding up to 1/2 cup of flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking, but not so much to dry it out. The dough should stay soft and tacky.

For the first rise, form the dough into a ball and place into the oiled bowl. Cover with a towel and allow to double in size, about 2 hours.

For the second rise, fold the dough over itself, gently deflating it as you form it back into a ball. Arrange the dough so that the smooth side is facing up and cover with a towel. Let the dough rise for 1 1/2 hours more.

After the second rise is done, scrape the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces. Place a 10-inch cast-iron pan over medium heat.

Working with one piece of dough at a time on a generously floured surface, roll each piece into an irregular circle that will fit within the confines of the 10-inch pan--varying the thickness from 1/8 to 1/4 inch. Brush the top of the dough lightly with olive oil and dust with spices, herbs, or a mixture of both, and sprinkle with salt. Transfer the dough to the hot pan and grill, oiled side down, for 3 to 4 minutes. Moving the dough by hand from the counter to the pan requires patience; go slowly lifting up the edges and working toward the center until the entire flatbread is off the counter. With a quick and confident hand, move it to the pan to cook.

While the first side is griddling, brush the other side with oil and dust with more spices or herbs and salt. Flip the flatbread over and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. Move the griddled flatbread to a baking rack. Repeat with the remaining pieces of dough, adjusting the heat and cooking time as you go to keep results consistent. Flatbreads are best when eaten right after they are grilled.

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