I was watching a cooking segment on LBC, the Lebanese cable channel (Sofrah daymeh) The chef was demonstrating baking a loaf of bread with olives, onions and herbs; after baking the loaf, he would slice it and cover each slice with a piece of grilled halloom cheese and some grilled tomatoes and peppers. I decided to make the bread into a flatbread instead, this way I get 5 instead of one, and bake it with the topping to save a step.
The flatbread is delicious. When you pull it out of the oven you will get a whiff of onions that is quite titillating. Plus each slice is studded with black olives and sprinkled with herbs throughout. I used akkawi cheese and mozzarella for the topping.
The recipe is adapted from Sofrah Daymeh, LBC International Channel.
INGREDIENTS: The dough will produce 5 flatbreads. The topping here is for just one.
- 3 1/2 cups organic whole wheat flour ( or a mix of whole-wheat and white unbleached bread flour)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
- 1 teaspoon of sugar
- 2 teaspoons of dry yeast
- 5 Tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 1/2 cups of warm water
- 1/2 cup of pitted black olives
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 Tablespoons each of : mint, oregano, parsley
- 1 cup of mozzarella
- 1 cup of akkawi cheese ( or any other cheese of your choice, goat cheese would be good here)
- Chop the onion. Saute in 2 tablespoons of olive oil for 10 minutes until translucent and golden. Let it cool.
- Proof the yeast: Place the yeast in a small cup with 1/4 cup of warm water, 1 teaspoon of sugar. Mix and let it froth in a warm place.
- While the yeast is getting busy, wash and dry the herbs. Chop the herbs fine. Set aside.
- Chop and seed the olives and set aside.
- Place the flour in a mixing bowl, add the salt and mix well. Add 3 tablespoons of olive oil in the middle of the flour and start mixing the flour with the oil. When the oil is no longer visible, add about 1 1/4 cup of warm water slowly while mixing until the dough starts to get in one lump.
- Add the onion (cooled), the herbs and the olives to the dough. Continue mixing until the dough is cohesive and smooth.
- Place 2 tablespoons of oil in a bowl and place the dough in the bowl, covering it all around with oil.
- Place the bowl in a warm place and let it rise to double its size. A good place is on the stove, on top of a large pot set on low heat (while cooking something else, like a sauce for instance)
- When the dough has doubled in size, remove from the pot, shape into a thick sausage shape and cut in 5 pieces. If not using all today, flour the other pieces and place in a freezer bag and store in the freezer.
- Sprinkle cornmeal or oat bran on a work surface, and set the ball of dough to rise again; sprinkle flour on the ball and cover with a towel for about 30 minutes.
- Roll the ball of dough into a circle and slide it onto a baking sheet.
- Sprinkle the cheese on the flatbread and a couple teaspoons of olive oil.
- Heat the oven to 550F and bake for 10 to 15 minutes. Slice and serve.
The type of cheese is important here. Because the oven is hot, you will want a cheese that can withstand the high temperature gracefully. Akkawi cheese (available at middle-eastern stores) is ideal here. It can be substituted for mozzarella. I don’t recommend using low-fat shredded cheese. It will melt and burn too quickly; if using goat cheese, sprinkle it 2 minutes before pulling the flatbread out of the oven or the grill.
I also desalted the cheese ( I watch my sodium intake) by slicing it and soaking it in water for a few hours and changing the water several times.
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