revisiting an old favorite

Last summer I discovered a new favorite — grilling flatbreads.  They are quick and simple to make, and so much fun, and everyone loves to eat them.  Yesterday, I made Grilled Asiago Rounds and Zucchini Caponata from King Arthur Flour’s Bakers’ Banter.  Both recipes are so easy and sooooo good.  Check out the links above for the recipes as well as how-to videos.

I was outside grilling the breads yesterday morning so we could take them along with us into Boston for the fireworks.  L. said he could smell them in his sleep.  The last time I made this I thought it lasted a bit longer — maybe a couple of days, but the only reason we didn’t finish it all last night was because I only brought two-thirds of the batch of flatbreads and caponata with us.  We had other goodies as well, and really, who needs that much food for just one evening?  I took a lot of abuse for that decision.  Rest assured, we finished the rest of it today. 

grilled asiago rounds and zucchini caponata

I made these grilled flatbreads outside yesterday during one of the drizzliest days we’ve experienced this summer. Not really how I planned it, but whaddya gonna do?

The recipe is from King Arthur Flour’s excellent blog, Bakers’ Banter. It’s not my first try at grilled bread, but it’s definitely my most successful. What’s better than moist cheesy bread, hot off the grill? Everyone raved about it! And it was so simple to make — definitely going to make this one again this weekend. Alongside the bread, I served this Zucchini Caponata. The basil was from our garden — it was fragrant and fresh tasting and we were happy to get to enjoy some of it before the bugs ate all of our basil plants to the ground.

cheese sandwich bread

This is a soft cheese-swirled bread I made yesterday in a loaf pan. It didn’t rise as high as I had hoped — I let it proof beyond the suggested time, but in the end I was concerned about overproofing (and its special ramifications) and popped in the oven, hoping for some serious oven spring. I stuffed the bread with a mixture of sharp Cheddar and feta. Some large voids occurred when the cheese melted down, making it look rather rustic, but rendering it problematic for use in sandwiches!

blue cheese and walnut fougasse

Fougasse is a Provençal bread, made from a pain ordinaire dough.

According to Wikipedia:
In ancient Rome, panis focacius was a flat bread baked in the ashes of the hearth (focus in Latin). This became a diverse range of breads that include “focaccia” in Italian cuisine, “fugassa” in the Ligurian language, “pogača” in the Balkans, “fougasse” in Provence and “fouaisse” or “foisse” in Burgundy. The French versions are more likely to have additions in the form of olives, cheese, anchovies etc, which may be regarded as a primitive form of pizza without the tomato.

Given that fougasse is a relative of Italian focaccia, I would have thought my dough would have been more wet and sticky. The recipe I had used both unbleached all-purpose flour and whole wheat flour so maybe that had something to do with the consistency of the dough. I was warned that mixing in the blue cheese and walnuts would be a messy endeavor, but I found it to be pretty straightforward.

cheese bread

Another recipe from King Arthur’s Baker’s Companion.

First of all, I have to point out that without my mixer, I would never be able to muster the energy or motivation to bake multiple breads in a week. It’s been a godsend, particularly since I might have overdone it with the lifting yesterday while working on cookie dough for our church’s Holiday Fair.

I made this cheese bread for 3 reasons — 1) I am trying to methodically go through every recipe in the Baker’s Companion, 2) I wanted something suitable to go with the chili leftovers from last night, and 3) I had all the ingredients (including leftover tomato paste from the chili recipe). The dough mixed up great, but I had a little issue with the first rise. Namely, it didn’t. The culprit was my kitchen — too cold. Later I noticed the thermostat read a perfectly respectable 70 degrees — toasty warm for October, downright chilly for rising bread. After shaping the dough, I moved it into my relatively sauna-like bedroom (great afternoon sun in there) for the 2nd rise and it did a bit better, although it didn’t rise to the extent that I had hoped.

No matter… I put it in the oven after about an hour (15 minutes longer than the recipe indicated) and it did fine. It probably wasn’t as “high-rising” as King Arthur had intended, but given my many recent unintentionally flat loaves, I was happy with the results. The house smells great — rather like cheddar Pepperidge Farm goldfish!