Sunday, May 2, 2010

Ambition Realized

Last night I finally realized my months-long ambition to serve flatbreads with artisan ricotta cheese, in the style of the Exile Bar and Grill. The Narragansett Creamery ricotta from Lucy's Whey was divine, as promised, and made even better with a drizzle of olive oil. Because the weather was so warm and my husband had spent the day improving our patio by sweeping it and getting some plants in the pots, I decided to grill my lavash rather than bake them in the oven. I added a teaspoon of black pepper to the dough last night, but I'll experiment in the coming months (I'm planning on baking outdoors at least once a week) with other spices and herbs. Here's the recipe:

Basic Grilled Lavash
Makes 6 flatbreads

For the sponge:
6 tablespoons room temperature water
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

For the dough:
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons room temperature water
1/4 teaspoon instant yeast
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt or fine sea salt
2 teaspoons olive oil

1. Make the sponge: Combine the water, yeast, and flour in a medium bowl and stir to moisten. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature until very bubbly, 3 to 5 hours. Don't worry if the sponge rises and then collapses. That's normal.
2. Make the dough: Combine the water, yeast, flour, sugar, salt, olive oil, and ripe sponge int eh bowl of a stand mixer. Stir with a rubber spatula until a rough dough forms.
3. Knead the dough using a dough hook until it is soft and elastic, 5 to 7 minutes on medium speed.
4. Spray the inside of a large bowl with nonstick cooking spray and place the dough inside. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise until the dough has doubled in size, about 1 hour.
5. Preheat a gas grill to medium-high. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured counter top and use a sharp chef's knife to divide it into 6 pieces. Round each piece into a ball, flatten into a disk, sprinkle with flour, and cover with plastic wrap. Let stand for 15 minutes while the grill heats.
6. Stretch and pull the dough pieces into 10-inch rounds (or ovals or squares--the shapes will be irregular. Brush the tops of the dough with a little olive oil. Place two of the dough pieces on a baking sheet, carry them to the grill, and lift them by two corners, stretching them more as you do so, draping them over the grill grids, oiled side down. Cover and cook until the underside is lightly charred, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes.
7. Lift each one from the grill with tongs, and place it on a clean baking sheet, folding it in half as you do so. Cover the baked lavash with a clean towel, and repeat with the remaining four dough rounds, baking them two at a time. Sprinkle the lavash with sea salt and serve warm.

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