Sun-Dried Tomato Flatbread

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I first made sun-dried tomato pesto a couple of months ago, to stuff inside chicken, along with goat cheese. I made a sun-dried tomato flatbread a week or so later, to use up a little leftover pizza dough. We really liked it, but I never made it again – so many recipes and ideas, so little time.

I decided the flatbread was too good to be a one-time thing. This time I used a whole recipe of my favorite whole wheat pizza dough, pressing it into one pan instead of two to make a fairly thick layer of bread in the finished product. You could also use half the dough, if you want a thinner flatbread. If you don’t want to make your own dough, you could pick up your favorite prepared pizza dough, or use a pre-made crust, like Boboli.

I topped my dough with a quick smear of sun-dried tomato pesto. I used a fairly thick layer of pesto, but didn’t spread it evenly – leaving it thicker in spots for a punch of flavor. After a heavy sprinkling of Parmesan cheese it was ready for the oven.

The flatbread turned out exactly how I imagined– soft bread topped with sweet yet savory, full-bodied tomato pesto, finished off with nutty, salty cheese.

I let the flatbread cool and then sliced it – I was saving it to serve the next day. If you are eating yours right away, feel free to tear off warm chunks, without waiting for it to cool.

The flatbread, like all bread, keeps really well in the freezer, and I am looking forward to grabbing a few pieces whenever I want a little something different to accompany dinner. And the next time we have people over, I’ll have a ready-made appetizer, waiting for me in the freezer. A little cheese and some wine and we are set. Heck, I might not wait until we have company.

Download or print the recipe here.

Sun-Dried Tomato Flatbread
From The Cook’s Life
Makes one large flatbread

Adjust the tomato pesto and cheese amounts to suit your tastes.

1 recipe pizza dough, or your favorite dough*
All-purpose flour, for sprinkling
½-1 cup sun-dried tomato pesto, purchased or homemade
1-1½ cups shredded Parmesan cheese, preferably not the powdered stuff

*If you don’t want to make dough, you could use a pre-made crust like Boboli. Follow the package instructions for baking.

Prepare pizza dough and let it rise once.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a 12 by 17 inch half sheet pan,  two 9 by 13 inch pans or two round pizza pans.

Press the dough into the pan(s), sprinkling the top with flour if dough sticks to your hands. Try to get the dough all the way to the edges of the pan, and try to keep it an even thickness all the way across.

Spread the dough with a layer of sun-dried tomato pesto. Sprinkle the top with Parmesan cheese.

Bake the flatbread for 10-15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the dough. The pesto will darken somewhat. If the pesto looks like it is burning, lay a large piece of aluminum foil over the top of the flatbread. Bake until the cheese is just starting to brown and the edges of the dough are golden brown.

Cool flatbread on a rack before cutting into strips or wedges. Or tear pieces off and eat them warm from the oven.

Leftovers keep for a day or two in an airtight container. Reheat briefly in the oven or a skillet before serving. Microwaving can make the bread chewy. Freeze for longer storage. Thaw at room temperature and reheat briefly before serving.

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Whole Wheat Bagels from Your Own Kitchen


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I have been holding back on posting a lot of yeast baking recipes, since I know yeast intimidates a lot of people. Above all I want The Cook’s Life to be approachable, and for you to actually make some of the recipes. But I also don’t want to miss out on highlighting how much fun it can be to make your own bread, bagels, English muffins and rolls.

Bagels are a great project for a weekend, especially if you want to get the whole family in on the fun. Or you can hole up in the kitchen by yourself and have some time with the flour, as I like to do sometimes. If you can stir, and you don’t mind getting your hands in the dough, you can make bagels.

Above all, don’t let the fact these have yeast in them intimidate you. When I teach bread classes, I hear from so many people that they could never make anything with yeast. But if I ask how many people have made pizza dough or soft pretzels, some of those same people raise their hands. They weren’t afraid of the yeast then, because they were using a mix. Yeast is yeast, whether you are using a mix or baking from scratch, and you can do it.

There are just a few things to remember when baking with yeast:

  • Don’t get the water too hot. Hot water kills the yeast – too cool is better than too hot. Warm water wakes the yeast up the fastest, but cool water works too, you just might have to wait longer for the dough to rise. The water should feel warm to your finger, but not hot. And yes, you should stick your finger in to test it.
  • If the dough isn’t doubled after the time stated in the recipe, give it more time. The recipe writer can’t predict how warm your kitchen is, or exactly how warm your water was when you started.
  • Kneading is not difficult. You are basically turning and folding the dough, adding flour as you go. Kneading develops the gluten in the dough, helping it to support the dough as it rises. At first the dough will be sticky, but as you knead and add flour, it will become smooth and bouncy and no longer sticky.
  • Have fun with it. You will produce something tasty. I pretty much taught myself how to bake with yeast, and there was a learning curve – but I never made any bread, bagels or rolls that we couldn’t eat. Sure, some of my results were flatter than expected, or weren’t very pretty, but they tasted good.

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Homemade bagels definitely rival any bakery bagels you have ever had. And they leave grocery store bagels in the dust. Try them once and see what you think. And above all, have fun with them!

Download or print the recipe here.

Whole Wheat Bagels
Adapted by The Cook’s Life
From King Arthur Flour
Makes 12-16 bagels

Your first bagels might not be pretty. The shaping isn’t hard, but it does take a little practice. The bagels will be delicious, no matter what they look like.

The recipe includes malted milk powder, which is in the grocery store, next to the chocolate syrups. It isn’t absolutely necessary to the recipe, but it adds a nice hint of maltiness. You can leave it out if you like.

2 cups warm water
1 packet dry yeast (2¼ teaspoons)
¼ cup instant malted milk powder
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon salt
5 cups white whole wheat flour (see note)
¾-1 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading

Water bath:
2 quarts water
2 tablespoons granulated sugar

Note: You can make these will less whole wheat flour, or use entirely all-purpose flour – you might need to add a little more all-purpose flour than stated in the recipe.

Pour water in a large bowl. Add yeast, malted milk powder, sugar, salt and 4 cups white whole wheat flour. Mix well. Add remaining whole wheat flour and mix until combined. Add about ½ cup all-purpose flour and mix again. You should now have a sticky ball of dough and you will be using a chopping motion instead of actually stirring.

When dough is slightly less sticky, sprinkle with flour. Cover your kneading surface with flour and turn dough onto it. Knead dough for about 10 minutes, or until it is smooth, elastic and no longer sticky. Add flour as necessary to keep dough from sticking to your hands and your kneading surface.

Place dough back in the mixing bowl and cover with plastic wrap or a wet towel and allow to rise for 1-1 ½ hours, or until doubled. Lightly grease two baking sheets, or line them with parchment paper, and set aside.

Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface. Cut into 12-16 pieces, depending on size desired. Twelve pieces will give you truly massive bagels, akin to some bakery bagels. Sixteen gives you a smallish bagel that is just enough for a weekday, not-too-indulgent, breakfast. I prefer to make 16.

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Pick your shaping technique:

  • Roll each piece of dough into a smooth ball. Flatten the balls slightly and poke a hole in the middle. Use your fingers to widen the hole and smooth the edges. Place the shaped bagel the prepared baking sheet.
  • Roll each portion of dough into a snake about a foot long (like you are playing with Play-doh). Wrap the snake completely around your hand and join the ends at your palm, overlapping the last 2 or 3 inches of the ends. Roll the overlapping ends between your palms, with the rest of the snake still around your hand, until you can’t see the seams anymore. Ease the bagel off your hand and onto the baking sheet.

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Cover the bagels loosely with parchment or waxed paper and let rise for about 15 minutes. Don’t let them rise much more than this or they will deflate and/or stick to everything when you try to boil them.

While the bagels are rising, add sugar to the water in a 3-quart saucepan and heat over medium heat to a simmer. Keep the lid on the pot to keep your water from evaporating while it comes to a boil. Set up a dinner plate lined with about three paper towels or a clean kitchen towel (not a fuzzy one, which will stick to the bagels. Flour sack towels work nicely). Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

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After the 15-minute rising period, remove the lid from the pan and set aside. Ease a bagel off the baking sheet and into your hand. If the bagels stick too much, dip a pancake spatula in the hot water and then use it to ease the bagel off the baking sheet. Slip the bagels into the simmering water and cook about 30 seconds on a side. You can boil two or three bagels at once, depending on the size of your pan. Remove boiled bagels to the towel-lined plate and start more cooking. After bagels have drained for a few seconds, you can put them back on the baking sheet.

Bake the boiled bagels for 13-15 minutes, or until lightly browned on top and a little darker on the bottom. If you are using two baking sheets, switch them top to bottom in the oven after about 7 minutes.

Cool bagels on a rack until room temperature before slicing them in half. Store in an airtight container for a day or two, or freeze for longer storage.