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Flat Bread or Pizza?

This recipe was given to me by a true foodie who makes his own beer, wine, cheese, and has a wood-fired brick oven in his backyard for roasting and baking.  Americans’ traditional sense of pizza is the perfectly round baked (usually thin) dough with globs of red sauce and an over-the-top quantity of cheese.

This dough is for the purist who loves a good yeast bread (flat or otherwise) crusted simply on a sizzling hot baking stone with humble yet superior toppings to what most are used to eating.

The first step is to make the dough which begins the night before it is baked off.  Once risen, a small amount of flour, yeast, water, and a pinch of salt rise to almost over-flowing.  

Flat Bread

Once the dough is placed onto a floured work surface and lightly kneaded, it can be divided so one piece can be used immediately and the others wrapped in parchment paper and then placed into a freezer bag for a future use (thaw / rise / use).  Knead the dough until it is elastic and smooth as a baby’s behind.  You will need to add a dusting of flour here and there to keep your hands and the dough from sticking to the board.  I also recommend the use of a bench scraper to help you along.

Then I shaped the dough as desired and placed it onto a wooden peel dusted with coarse cornmeal to keep the dough from sticking.  This allows it to be easily shaken onto the sizzling stone without effort.  Just note that it won’t come off the peel as the perfectly shaped Domino’s Pizza you have had delivered – – and you know you have been shamed to see the lit advertising dome on top of some college kid’s car arrive in front of your house while all the neighbors gawk and see that you’ve resorted to this type of food.  Shame! (Ok, I’ll admit I’ve done it too and it didn’t suck).  However, this is a completely different experience in creating this tasty flat bread.

Flat Bread      Flat Bread

The next thing I did to top the dough with some great flavor was to infuse some extra virgin olive oil with garlic cloves and a sprig of rosemary just until heated through over low heat.  When you do this, make sure you smash the cloves with the side of your chef’s knive and bang at the rosemary leaves a few times to release the oils before placing into the pot, which is needed to permeate the oil!  I allowed the oil to cool (remember it doesn’t get too hot in the first place….If you see a sizzle around the garlic or rosemary, you’re going too far) Next, I washed the top of the dough with just the infused oil.  Then I stripped the rosemary leaves off the stem and sprinkled across the golden mass.  In addition, I finely chopped fresh shallot and distributed it across the surface.  Finally, a good sprinkling of your best sea salt and some coarsely ground pepper.

Flat Bread 

With all the oven racks removed except for one placed onto the lowest possible level, the oven is cranked to 500 degrees fahrenheit.  The dough is quickly slid off of the peel onto the stone.  Carefully watch – – without opening the oven door, if you can – – to make sure that it browns and crisps up without burning the bottom.  My experience is that you’re looking at about 7 – 10 minutes of baking time – – but as I was trained, “You remove it from the oven, when it’s done, not when the recipe tells you to do it!”

Notice in the pictures the “before and after” of how the dough’s yeast quickly reacts to puff the bread upon hitting the stone’s surface.  That is the Yeasty-Beasty farting its last farts – – the yeast eats the sugar and gives off the gas to raise your dough.  I bet you’re salivating about now.

 Flat Bread      Flat Bread

When it’s done, remove it from the stone with the peel and place it onto a cooling rack so that no condensation forms on the bottom crust – – you want to keep that crispy!  When it’s cool enough to handle, dig-in!  The recipe for the dough follows.

Flat Bread

Pizza Dough (note I’ve given the recipe to you as it was given to me, from the home and hearth!)

The night before:

mix 1 1/2 cups flour and 1/8 teaspoon yeast with enough warm (not hot) water until very moist and smooth.  Let sit overnight, covered.

The next day:

Mix 4 – 6 cups flour, 3/4 teaspoon yeast, a pinch of salt with the above mixture and enough warm water until sticky but not thin in consistency.

Remember:  You can add flour easier than water!

Knead on board with flour until elastic but still soft.

You may start in a mixer if you want, but finish by hand!

Let sit for 3 – 4 hours

(Servings:  This dough recipe makes two healthy “rounds” of pizza – – or flat bread)

Buon Appetito!



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