The Saturday after Thanksgiving, after giving my oven a heavy workout on Thursday, I went to make scones, and discovered that my dear kitchen appliance was lacking some of it's functionality. Namely, its ability to turn on. Some contact with the landlord and a visit from a repairman ensued, but it was still nearly a week before I heard the sound of it firing up again.
Some roasted veggies and a cake later, it has become clear that the new thermostat that has been installed lacks a certain...accuracy. While occasionally on target, there is sometimes as much as a 100 degree (F) discrepancy between the setting on the oven and the face of the thermometer we keep in there. And it runs low, so I'm dubious as to it's ability to hit the 500 degrees that I like for baking pretty much all my bread.
So, this has been a great time to rediscover flatbread. I tend to go through phases with the stuff, but I've been on a such a kick with hearty boules that there hasn't been enough of a break from my toast and sandwich eating to make space for more bread.
I've long been fairly laissez fair with the composition of my flatbread doughs. But after reading Barbara Abdeni Massaad's Man'oushe last spring, I adapted her basic recipe to sourdough and have been using that as my go-to. A Post-It with amounts for a two person batch of dough scribbled on it lives on a kitchen cupboard door for easy reference. I usually eat it for breakfast/brunch, mixing everything together before bed the night before, and rolling out the dough and cooking it in a cast iron skillet in the morning.
The most classic topping for man'oushe is simply olive oil and za'atar, but any number of things can go on it. More and more, my renditions look like breakfast pizzas. They're wonderful. And frequently quite filling.
I went to mix up some dough for them the other night and had a tray of roasted carrots, soft and now cooled, next to me as I did so. "Why not?" was my basic thought as I grabbed a few, mashing them slightly in my hand and dropping them into the bowl. I let kneading take care of the rest of the mashing and distribution.
Rolling the dough out this morning, I was quite taken with the orange speckles in the dough and took a few pictures. And then a few more, and then realized that I might need to do a whole blog post.
At the top is the first flatbread, rolled out and waiting to get cooked. Here's a close up of that dough:
The orange, of course, is the roasted carrot, and the darker flecks are from the whole rye flour that goes in pretty much everything I make these days. I think I did about 10% rye here, as well as 50% white whole wheat and 40% AP.
While preheating the skillet, I assembled my mise en place:
Assorted leftover roasted veggies, from left to right, clockwise-ish: Eggplant, zucchini, red onion, carrot. Also, a very nice Raclette-style cheese from Vermont. If you come across it, I'd recommend picking it up. Soft and rich, melts nicely, plays well with others. I find it a little too rich on it's own, actually, though my boyfriend didn't seem to think so.
There's also an egg beaten with a little salt and some za'atar off to the side of the cutting board.
One of the breads puffed up in the skillet nicely while cooking:
Watching flatbreads puff up always makes me happy.
To balance out the sweetness of the vegetables and the richness of the cheese, I dusted the tops of the breads with some sumac and dotted it with some harrissa*:
I decided this bread was pretty photogenic:
If ever an onion vamped for the camera, then that onion in the front certainly is.
And don't forget about the bit of green from the zucchini:
You can also see some of the speckles of carrot in the dough still if you look at the edge. Less distinct than before, but still noticeable.
After a short rest on the cooling rack, the bread could be moved to plate without steaming itself and losing the crispness of the crust. Check out the coloring on this:
All in all, a successful brunch. Less filling than the breads I was making earlier in the week with Thanksgiving leftovers, which had an almost ridiculous amount of protein and a good dose of whole grains:
Above: Egg beaten with harrissa, cheddar slices, leftover turkey, and dabs of herbed butternut puree.
*I've had a jar of harrissa from Les Moulins Mahjoub sitting in my fridge for several months now. It's quite nice and apparently keeps well. If you're looking for a prepared harrissa, I recommend trying this one. It's tangy and sweet, spicy without being overwhelming.