Saturday, April 23, 2011

Last Night's Dinner: Flatbreads with Za'atar

In Cambridge a few nights ago, we enjoyed a half-dozen wonderfully spiced Middle Eastern dishes at Oleana. As soon as I got home, I hustled over to Bookhampton and ordered a copy of chef/owner Ana Sortun's book, Spice. But I couldn't wait for its arrival to enjoy some of the spices that have been sitting, neglected, in my pantry. So last night I baked some flatbreads sprinkled with za'atar (a mixture of salt, sumac, sesame seeds, and thyme) to go along with our grilled lamb chops and roasted carrots. Here is the recipe, adapted from Simply Great Breads:

Flatbreads with Za'atar
Makes 6 small flatbreads

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon instant yeast
1 teaspoon fine sea salt or kosher salt
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons room temperature water
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons za'atar

1. Combine the flour, yeast, salt, and water in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook and stir with a rubber spatula a few times until a rough dough forms. Knead the dough on medium speed until it is smooth and supple, about 7 minutes. Transfer to an oiled bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 8 hours and up to 1 day.
2. One hour before you want to bake your breads, take the bowl out of the refrigerator and turn the dough onto a lightly floured countertop. Use a bench scraper or sharp chef's knife to divide the dough into 6 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a round, sprinkle lightly with flour, and drape with plastic wrap. Let stand 1 hour.
3. Place a baking stone in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baker's peel or rimless baking sheet with parchment paper. Press the dough pieces into 4-inch circles. Place them on the parchment-lined peel. Press yoru fingertips into the dough rounds to create little dimples. Brush each round liberally with the olive oil and sprinkle with the za'atar.
4. Slice the dough, still on the parchment, onto teh hot baking stone and bake until risen and lightly browned, about 7 minutes (do not overbake, or the breads will dry out. Slide the breads, still on the parchment, onto a wire rack to cool slightly and serve warm.

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