Thursday, June 6, 2013


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Zatar Flatbread to accompany soup (I baked the flatbreads in a 500ºF oven (pricked the tops with a fork in a few places so that they wouldn't puff up like pita) until the bottoms were browning a bit, flipped them over, brushed with a little olive oil, and sprinkled with za'atar, then baked just until the edges started to brown a little. (See about za'atar here )
Finally, here is the post on the flatbread dough I've been working on for a few weeks.  I haven't exhausted all the possibilities, but enough to give you some ideas.  I was first inspired by the recipe in a great book called "River Cottage Veg Every Day".  (It's a vegetarian vegetable cookbook-- not vegan, but, as the author writes, if you're a vegan "you know what to do".)  Hugh's recipe is with white flour only, but I wanted a mostly-whole wheat one.  So, I revised the recipe, using advice from Cook's Illustrated magazine for making a light, tasty whole wheat pizza dough-- which is, basically, use a little unbleached white flour along with the whole wheat, add a tiny bit of sugar (to counteract a slight bitterness in the wheat), and a little bit more oil for a more flexible dough. (I'm going to try it with all whole wheat flour next.)

I've been using this dough quite a bit.  It's so easy to make and convenient and quick to make.  You can keep it in the refrigerated for a couple of weeks and just use what you need a bit at a time, if you like.  I've made flatbread wraps for my husband's on-the-road lunches several times and breakfast wraps, too; flatbreads topped with various things for accompanying soups and salads; pizza for a birthday dinner for six; and stuffed breads, too.  Here are some photos and notes, and then the recipe.  Have a ball experimenting with this-- everyone I've served my experiments to has been very impressed!

 Breakfast Wrap with Tofu/Cashew Ricotta and Peach Jam  (see recipe for the ricotta below, plus a recipe for Almond Ricotta and a link to Okara/Cashew Ricotta)


My first version-- sauteed leek greens with daiya mozza-- yum! (I baked the flatbreads in a 500ºF oven (pricked the tops with a fork in a few places so that they wouldn't puff up like pita) until the bottoms were browning a bit, flipped them over, sprinkled with Daiya, then Za'atar, then a little olive oil, and baked until the Daiya melted. (see about za'atar here )


The following pics are a version of  stuffed Piadine (stuffed flatbreads from Romagna called  crescione).  The dough for these breads is usually unleavened or made with baking powder, but this recipe worked just as well.

Piadine stuffed with sauteed garlicky rapini and a smear of Tofu/Cashew Ricotta (see recipe for the ricotta below, plus a recipe for Almond Ricotta and a link to Okara/Cashew Ricotta)
Sauteed rapini with garlic and a little chile
Homemade Tofu/Cashew Ricotta (see recipe for the ricotta below, plus a recipe for Almond Ricotta and a link to Okara/Cashew Ricotta)
Stuffing the crescione: 

You cook these just like the flatbread, but at a slightly lower heat.

Sweet Crescioni-- with peach jam and chocolate!

                                                       THE RECIPE:
Zatar flatbread with Daiya mozza
Printable Recipe

This recipe makes about 3 large pizzas, 8 largish wraps or flatbreads, or 12 smaller flatbreads, wraps or pita.  (You could even make simple rolls or breadsticks with this dough, but I haven’t tried that yet.)

**I include a no-knead version in this recipe, but I have been using the kneaded version lately because it’s easier to handle (it only needs 5 minutes kneading).  The no-knead version requires more flouring during shaping, and an experienced hand at rolling out well-hydrated dough.

NOTE: If you prefer to make this with only unbleached white flour (4 cups), you can omit the sugar and use only 1 tablespoon of oil.  See text above for more info.

3 cups whole wheat flour (you can use white whole wheat flour, if you have it)
1 cup unbleached white flour
1/2 tablespoon fine sea salt
1 3/4 cups lukewarm water
PS: I plan to try this next time using 3/4 cup pureed cooked or canned white beans in place of 3/4 cup of the water—I’ll keep you posted!)
2 teaspoons organic sugar
1 teaspoon instant or dry active yeast
2 tablespoons olive oil
FOR NO-KNEAD VERSION:  All the same; the only change is to use only 2 3/4 cups whole wheat flour.

Mix together the 2 kinds of flour and the salt. (Mix in a medium bowl or dough-rising bucket—preferably with a lid—with a whisk, if using the No-Knead version or kneading by hand; or in the bowl of your stand mixer if kneading by machine.) 

In a smaller bowl, or a measuring pitcher, mix the water, sugar and yeast.  Let stand for a couple of minutes. 
NOTE: I know that you don’t have to do this with instant yeast, but Master Baker Peter Reinhart says (in his book “Peter Reinhart’s Artisan Breads Every Day”, pps 12-13): “...I’ve discovered that waking up the yeast in lukewarm water allows it to ferment more effectively during the cooldown phase in the refrigerator. It also makes it possible to put the dough in the refrigerator as soon as it’s mixed rather than having to wait for it to rise. The warmer dough and activated yeast have plenty of time to rise as the dough cools, so the dough is ready to use right from the refrigerator, without the wake-up time required in many of the recipes I’ve developed...Another benefit of this method is that it’s the same whether you use instant or active dry yeast...”

Add the oil to the yeast mixture and pour into the flour mix. With a wooden spoon or dough whisk, stir into a rough dough.  If using the No-Knead method, that’s all you have to do.  If you are kneading, either by hand or by machine, knead about 5 minutes. If using a machine, remove the dough from the machine bowl and place into a lightly-oiled medium-sized bowl or dough-rising bucket. Cover with the lid or place the bowl inside of a large food-safe plastic bag (use a twist-tie, but make sure the bag “poofs” up over the bowl a few inches) and let it rise on your kitchen counter until doubled in size.

The following pictures are of the No-Knead version:



Now, you can “knock it back”, as Brits say (poke it until it collapses), cover again as above and refrigerate for up to two weeks, or you can use it right away.  (Tip: Refrigerated dough is easier to handle if you use the No-Knead version.) You can use some of it right away, and keep the remaining dough in the fridge for other uses—that’s the beauty of this recipe!

If you are using refrigerated dough, there is you don’t need to bring the dough to room temperature before shaping—another plus!  But your oven or pan must be hot, or at least heating up while you shape the flatbreads. Flatbreads can rise for a few minutes, but pizza should immediately be topped and placed in a very hot oven (500-550ºF).

TIP: I generally shape flatbreads on a piece of baking parchment spread over the surface I’m using, or on a silicone mat. You can get away with less flour that way.  Parchment is handy because, if your dough sticks to it just cut away the excess around your flatbread and bake it with the parchment attached!  It will come away just fine after baking. I generally top pizza dough which is on parchment and then transfer the pizza (using a pizza peel) to the hot pan or stone in the oven, parchment and all!

BASIC FLATBREADS: NOTE: Even though this is a yeast dough, you can use thin flatbreads like a tortilla or sandwich wrap, or a stuffed bread (see Piadine photos above).

Pinch or cut off golf-ball-sized pieces of the dough (or larger, depending on the size of the flatbreads you want).  Roll them to less than 1/4” thick—they can be round, oval, or odd-shaped; it doesn’t matter! (See Pita and Pizza entries below for tips and resources re rolling out the dough.) Now, you “bake” them in a hot skillet on the stovetop on at a time. (I often quickly make 2, 3 or 4 for lunch or breakfast with my refrigerated dough and it takes only minutes once you’ve done it a few times.)

To cook on top of the stove, heat a heavy cast iron skillet or griddle or hard-anodized skillet (9-12”) over high heat until the pan is very hot.  (You can turn on your stove fan or open a few windows!) 

Flip one flatbread at a time onto the hot skillet and cook a minute or two, until it’s bubbling up and has brown spots on the bottom.  Flip it over and cook until there are brown patches on the second side.  

NOTE: You may have to turn the heat down on your stove, or adjust the heat as you go-- stoves vary.  You don't want the breads to burn right away.   After you've done a few, you'll know how to handle your stove next time!

(Alternative  method: You can bake a bunch of them at one time like pita in the oven, but prick the dough all over with a fork before baking so the dough doesn’t puff up so much. Watch carefully so they don’t burn. )

If you are eating them right away, you can brush or spray each bread with a little olive oil (infused with garlic is yummy!) and sprinkle with any toppings you want (see text above).  If they are not to be used right away and you want to keep them softened (for a wrap, perhaps), cool them in an open paper bag. To keep them more crisp, cool on baking racks.

Nutrition Facts for 12 flatbreads or pitas: (This is about the same calories, etc. as 2 slices of bread.)
Nutrition (for 1 flatbread of 12): 163.2 calories; 15% calories from fat; 2.9g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 284.6mg sodium; 139.4mg potassium; 30.5g carbohydrates; 4.0g fiber; 0.9g sugar; 26.5g net carbs; 5.3g protein; 2.7 points.

Nutrition Facts for 8 largish flatbreads or wraps
Nutrition (for 1 largish flatbread out of 8): 244.8 calories; 15% calories from fat; 4.4g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 426.9mg sodium; 209.0mg potassium; 45.8g carbohydrates; 6.0g fiber; 1.3g sugar; 39.8g net carbs; 8.0g protein; 4.5 points.

PITA:  See this post for shaping and baking:  If you don’t have a pizza stone, you can use a cast iron skillet or griddle.  If you have neither, heat baking sheets in the oven and use those. Cool the pita in an open paper bag so that they stay flexible.

Nutrition Facts for 12 pita: (This is about the same calories, etc. as 2 slices of bread.)
Nutrition (for 1 pita of 12): 163.2 calories; 15% calories from fat; 2.9g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 284.6mg sodium; 139.4mg potassium; 30.5g carbohydrates; 4.0g fiber; 0.9g sugar; 26.5g net carbs; 5.3g protein; 2.7 points.

PIZZA:  I generally roll or pat the dough into an 8" circle (on a lightly-floured piece of  baking parchment  or silicone baking mat) and then use the weight of the dough to stretch it into a thinner round by draping it over an over-turned mixing bowl.  Then I place the dough on baking parchment which is sitting right on the pizza peel (see paragraph directly above). 

See this post for instructions and a photo, as well as baking instructions:  You drape the dough over an over-turned bowl and gently stretch it until it is the right size, using the weight of the dough stretch it. Work slowly so that you don’t tear the dough. If it does tear, by some chance, you can patch it and seal it again. The pizza does not have to be absolutely round! You can use a rolling pin instead, but Neapolitans are of the opinion that stretching the dough rather than rolling it makes a flatter and less chewy crust.

Here’s a post with instructions for using a cast iron skillet or griddle to make great pizza:

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (for 2 slices of one large pizza [cut into 6 ], crust only): 217.6 calories; 15% calories from fat; 3.9g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 379.5mg sodium; 185.8mg potassium; 40.7g carbohydrates; 5.3g fiber; 1.1g sugar; 35.4g net carbs; 7.1g protein; 3.9 points.

(Both from my book “Nonna’s Italian Kitchen: Delicious Homestyle Vegan Cuisine(The Book Publishing Co., Summertown, TN, 2003) 
NOTE: If you make your own soymilk and/or tofu, or have access to fresh okara (the leftover soy pulp), you might like to try my recipe for Okara/Cashew Ricotta at this post.

Printable Copy

Makes 3 1/2 cups
This mixture is very similar to the creamy full-fat ricotta used in Italy, which bears little resemblance to the watery, grainy ricotta available to most North Americans.  It's so creamy that you can use it as a spread on bread, or a filling for crespelle (crepes), or even in desserts.
2 (12.3 oz.) boxes extra-firm SILKEN tofu, crumbled
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons raw cashew pieces, ground very fine in a coffee/spice mill or mini-chopper
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
In a food processor, mix about 3 cups of the crumbled tofu, the ground cashews, the lemon juice and salt until they are VERY smooth.  Then crumble in the remaining tofu and process again.  The resulting mixture should be mostly smooth, but with a little graininess-- it doesn't have to be like cream cheese.
Scoop the "ricotta" into a plastic container and refrigerate.  It firms up when chilled.

 Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per 1/2 cup): 126.6 calories; 51% calories from fat; 7.6g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 199.1mg sodium; 229.1mg potassium; 6.4g carbohydrates; 0.5g fiber; 1.7g sugar; 6.0g net carbs; 9.3g protein; 3.1 points.

 Cooking Tip

For a quick tofu ricotta to use in lasagne or other pasta dishes, you may prefer to use this simple mixture: Mash 1 lb. very fresh drained medium-firm tofu, reduced-fat if possible, with 6 T. soy, nut or rice milk and 1/2 tsp. salt. This makes 2 generous cups.

makes about 2 1/2 cups        Soy-Free
This is a tasty vegan "ricotta"-- the almond milk has a clean, mild taste.

1 cup hot water
1/2 cup whole blanched almonds
1 cup cold water
4 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
4 tablespoons cornstarch (if you’re allergic to corn, you can use wheat starch, or use 6 tablespoons white rice flour), [organic cornstarch is available]
1 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt

Place the hot water and almonds in a blender and blend until a very smooth "cream" results-- be patient! It cannot be grainy. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend again well.

Pour the mixture into a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan and stir constantly over medium-high heat until it thickens and comes to a boil. Turn the heat down to medium and cook 1 minute more, stirring.

MICROWAVE OPTION: Pour the mixture into a large microwave-safe bowl or beaker. Cook in microwave oven for 2 minutes at 100% power. Whisk. Microwave 1 to 2 minutes more, or until thickened.

Scrape the mixture into a container and let it come to room temperature. Beat it with a whisk or electric hand mixer. Cover and chill. When it is chilled and firm, mash and stir it with a fork, until it has some texture. Refrigerate. 

Nutrition Facts
Nutrition (per 1/2 cup): 137.9 calories; 62% calories from fat; 10.1g total fat; 0.0mg cholesterol; 194.7mg sodium; 107.6mg potassium; 10.0g carbohydrates; 1.6g fiber; 1.6g sugar; 8.4g net carbs; 3.2g protein; 3.3 points.

Enjoy and have fun inventing your own variations!


Nezumi said...

Fantastic! I have some rapini that have a new destiny. I can't wait to try this :)
Do you have a recipe for the tofu ricotta?

Bryanna Clark Grogan said...

Nezumi-- I just added the ricotta recipe, plus a soy-free version and a link to an okara version. Also added Nutrition Facts.