Personally I only believe in rewarding myself with pizza IF AND ONLY IF I have read 10 books. But that’s what years of Book-It indoctrination gets you.
I’ll be honest–I’m not a huge pizza fan to begin with. Too doughy. Too much sweetness in the sauce. Often oily in the not-good way. Which is why I’ve been going all flatbread this season, highlighting all the goodies I’m finding at the local farmers’ market, which is basically the only place I go these days.
Flatbread, in some consistency or another, has existed for nearly 5,000 years. The idea is a simple leavened bread that can be rolled out and heated over fire. Since most of use don’t have a wood-fired oven at home, this iteration–which is modified from Ronni Lundy’s excellent book on Appalachian cuisine, Victuals–is made for the home cook’s oven.
Note that in total, this recipe takes about two hours to complete, though you can make your dough ahead of time!
While I usually eschew recipes, for baking, this is a bit more important.
- 2 cups flour
- 2/3 cup cornmeal
- 1/2 tbsp salt
- 1 packet active dry yeast
- 1 cup warm water
- 1/4 oil (vegetable, olive, grapeseed, whatever)
Mix flour, cornmeal, and salt in a food processor. Pulse with the blade attachment to mix.
Mix yeast with 3/4 cup of warm water. Remember, you want warm but not hot water. (The more you do this, the more you’ll get a natural sense for the right temperature without a thermometer.)
Whisk the oil with the water and yeast, then add this to the flour mixture in the food processor. Pulse a few times to combine, then run the processor for a few more seconds until it forms a doughy ball. If it’s too dry, add a little more water one teaspoon at a time.
(If you don’t have a food processor, you can do this by mixing the dry items in one bowl and the wet items in another. Then slowly add them together with your hands and knead for a minute or so.)
Spray a bowl with anti-stick spray and then move the dough ball to the bowl. Cover and let rest/rise for about 20 minutes.
When ready to make your flatbreads, move the dough to a floured surface. Flatten it with your hands and then turn it back over on itself, kneading it several times before returning the dough to the bowl to let it rise for one more hour.
Make Ahead Note: At this point you can move the dough into the fridge for up to two days.
When your dough has risen, divide the dough into 2-4 pieces. Note that this recipe will make two fluffy flatbreads or four cracker-esque flatbreads. (I also suppose it can make three somewhere-in-betweens as well.) This will depend on what consistency you prefer your dough. Note that the thinner you roll your dough, the crunchier and more cracker-like your flatbread will be.
Transfer your rolled dough to a parchment-lined baking sheet. (You can also use spray oil if you don’t have parchment paper.)
NOW THE FUN PART STARTS. Once you have the dough recipe down, it’s time to think about toppings.
Sure, you can go with a classic red sauce here, but there’s also a host of pestos, ricotta, or infused oils to use as a base. This is truly an opportunity for whatever is hanging around in your fridge to make an appearance! Think about what’s in season, what flavors you like together, what leftovers can be repurposed for optimal tastiness. Try different cheese, veg, meat combos. Let your housemates dress their own!
How to Roast a Tomato
If you must go with a red sauce, I recommend roasting your own tomatoes to give your sauce an extra boost. To do this, turn your oven to broil, and then put the whole tomatoes (skin on, not from a can) on a sheet underneath the broiler, turning them every 3 minutes or so until the whole of the skin chars.
When the skin is black and puckering off, transfer the tomato to a tupperware container with the lid and place it in the freezer. In ten minutes, the tomato should have cooled down enough for you the peel off the skin, which you should do! Then simply chop it finely (or use the food processor), add salt and spices of your choosing, and ta-da! Roasted tomato sauce!
Baking the Flatbread
When you’re happy with your toppings, put your flatbreads into the pre-heated oven. Bake for 12 minutes and then swap the top flatbread with the bottom flatbread and bake for another 12 minutes until both are golden brown.
Remove the flatbread from the oven and allow to cool. Top with any leafy greens you’d like! (Embrace the salad as a part of the whole.) I personally recommend a little arugula or mixed greens of your choosing tossed lightly with olive oil and a touch of sherry vinegar.
Then rip it apart or cut it into pieces for sharing, or jealously horde it all for yourself. Who cares. You earned it. Now go read 10 more books. Here’s a good place to start!