Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Onion Flat Bread

Chewy all purpose flour version 

This flat bread is a cross between focaccia and a crisp flat bread. 

This recipe evolved out of my experiments trying to bake fabulous bialys (I have been baking good ones, but not fabulous...yet....so they are not quite ready for prime time on this blog).  I am posting two variations, one made with all-purpose flour and the other made with part white whole wheat and part bread flour (you can use traditional whole wheat flour, it will taste more "whole wheaty," but will work similarly). Aside from the different flours yielding bread of different texture, thickness of the final rolled-out portion and baking time changed the bread from a chewy flat bread to a crispy type flat bread.  

Crispy whole-wheat/bread flour version

Choreography:



  • The dough ingredients are mixed, kneaded and left to rise for an hour. This is not a pretty dough, it is on the "dry side," using less water than usual for 4 cups of flour. It will look lumpy and oily but will hold together. It will begin to puff pretty quickly when covered and placed in a warm place or in my new (fabulous!!!) proofing box. If you have a proofing cycle in your oven use it, otherwise warming the oven to 80 degrees works well. 

  • After an hour, the dough is turned and deflated and is covered and left to rise again until double in bulk (45 minutes - 1 hour).  
  • The dough is then divided into 2 oz portions, rolled into balls, allowed to rest and then rolled out to thin disks. After rolling out, the disk is pricked with a fork ad topped with an onion topping. 
  • The onion poppy seed mixture can be made ahead of time and frozen (I don't like chopping the onions and find it's easier to make a relatively large amount of onion topping and freeze in smaller portions). I also use this topping  in Onion Pockets.   Do NOT chop the onions in a food processor, too much liquid is released and the topping will be watery. Freezing the diced onion however does not make it watery, the bread crumbs counteract any tendency to liquefy. Defrost completely before using. 

  • The disks are quickly baked in a hot oven - until just browned (which will yield a chewy flat bread) or a bit longer until fully brown (forming a crispy flat bread).

Equipment:
Kitchen scale, measuring cups and spoons
A flat surface to roll out dough portions (I use a silicone mat, making it easy to lift the rolled-out dough and move to the baking pan)
Rolling pin
Stand mixer (you can mix this dough by hand, but the whole wheat-bread flour version benefits from an electric dough mixer)
Sharp knife for mincing onion
A good quality baking sheet or a baking stone. The baking sheet will be used upside down (see the photo below)
Baking parchment for covering the baking sheet

Ingredients:
This flat bread can be made with all purpose flour OR a combination of white whole wheat and bread flour. The flour mixtures affect the bread texture, the all purpose flour version will be a bit fluffier and softer. 
Dough:
17 oz all purpose flour (a bit more than 4 c) OR 8 oz white whole wheat flour mixed with 9 oz bread flour
4.5 tsp (2 packages) instant yeast (See my posting on yeast for more information on using yeast)
2 Tbsp granulated sugar 
8 oz (1c) warm water 
2.5 oz  (1/3 c) neutral vegetable oil (I use canola for this bread)
2 tsp kosher salt
flour for dusting the work surface and baking surface 
Topping:
1 medium onion (3-4 oz) onion, diced finely 
1 Tsp poppy seeds
1 Tsp bread crumbs



Procedure:
1. In the bowl of your mixer (or a large mixing bowl) combine the flour, yeast and sugar. 
2 Add approximately 3/4 of the water and mix into the flour mixture. 
3. Dissolve the salt in the remaining water and pour into the flour mixture along with the oil. Combine well. If you are using an electric mixer blend on the low speed until the flour is hydrated. If you are mixing by hand, use a flexible scraper to help you blend the entire mixture. 
3. Knead by machine for 3-4 minutes or hand knead until well blended. This will not be a pretty dough. It will look lumpy. 
4. Leave the dough in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Place in a warm place and let rise for 1 hour.
5. Prepare the topping by finely dicing the onion and mixing with poppy seeds and bread crumbs. It is best to prepare the topping and allow to stand for an hour or two before using it. This gives the bread crumbs time to absorb any liquid released by the onion pieces. 
6. The dough will look puffy after an hour. Turn and deflate the dough in the bowl (there is no need to turn out and knead). Re-cover the dough and allow to rise until double in bulk (anywhere between 45-60 minutes).
7. Preheat the oven to 410 degrees.
8. Deflate the dough and divide into 14 two-ounce portions. Roll into small balls and allow to rest for 10 minutes before proceeding. This rest period will help relax the dough and make it easier to roll out.
9. Prepare the pan (if you are using a baking pan, you will be using it upside down).  Line with a sheet of parchment paper that is lightly floured.  If you are using a baking stone, preheat and then dust with some flour.
10. Roll out one dough portion on a floured surface to a disk that is approximately 4 inches in diameter. The dough should be between 1/4 and 1/8 inch thick.  A 1/4 inch thick disk will yield a chewy flat bread, the thinner one can be baked into a crispy flat bread.

11. If you are using an upside down baking pan: Move the rolled-out disks to the prepared pan.   Leave a small amount of space between each disk.  Pierce each disk with a fork and top with a small amount of the onion topping. Press the topping into the disk.

If you are using a baking stone, prepare several disks, slide onto a well floured pizza peel, pierce with a fork, add topping, tap down the topping and slide onto the hot stone all at once.


 12. Lower the oven temperature to 400 degrees. Slide the baking pan into the oven and bake for 13-15 minutes, depending on whether or not you want the flat bread to be chewy or crisp. Check the color of the disks after 10 or 11 minutes in order to judge when you want to take the bread out of the oven.





13. Remove from oven when the flat breads are done and cool on a rack. This bread is best used warm and fresh or double wrapped and frozen until you are ready to use. If you freeze the bread, defrost and warm for a few minutes before serving.