Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Grape-Black Cumin Flatbread

A few slices of this almost pizza-like flatbread make a great dinner with a salad on the side, or would be a good appetizer for a crowd.

The recipe takes a long time, but more than half of it is idle time when the dough will be rising, so make this on a night you have other stuff to do around the house/apartment!

First, dissolve one packet (two and a half teaspoons, if you don't have the individual packets) of yeast in 1 and 1/4 cups warm water. For accuracy, check the temp with a candy thermometer - it should be between 100 and 110 degrees. Let stand 5 minutes.

Stir in 2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned into measuring cups and leveled with a knife) and 2 tbsp. raw sugar. Stir until combined (it will be very sticky), then cover and let stand in a place free from drafts for one hour. In bread making, this is called a sponge (it will rise and have bubbles). "Sponges" were used back in the days of homemade bread baking. They add both flavor and texture to the finished bread.

After one hour, add an additional cup flour, 1/2 cup cornmeal, 1 tablespoon olive oil, a teaspoon of salt and 1/4 tsp. black cumin seeds to your sponge, stirring in gently. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until elastic (about 8 minutes). As previously stated in my June recipe for Olive and Caramelized Onion Tart, kneading consists of these three steps: punch, fold, turn a quarter turn. For more complete instructions, see that post. After kneading, shape the dough back into a ball. Coat a large bowl with cooking spray and place the dough inside, turning so the top is coated with cooking spray too. Cover and let rise in a place free from drafts for one hour.

A note on the black cumin seeds: this recipe was from a historical bit about President Thomas Jefferson in my cooking magazine, and the kinds of foods he cultivated in his garden - he was apparently quite the foodie in his day! One item was black cumin seeds, known then as Nutmeg Plant. I bought mine at my local Indian spice store, but if you can't find them, you can substitute poppy seeds, caraway seeds or sesame seeds in a pinch.

After that hour of rising, punch the dough down and let rest 5 minutes. Then turn onto a lightly floured surface, and gently knead in 2/3 cup grape halves. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 10 minutes. Be careful on this step; I found that the grapes made the dough a bit mushy since the grapes got a little squished. Ultimately, it didn't effect the outcome!

After 10 minutes, turn the dough out onto a baking sheet that you have sprinkled with an additional teaspoon cornmeal. Gently pat it into a 14x10 inch rectangle (about the size of the whole sheet) - again, be careful of those grapes! Brush the top with one tablespoon olive oil. Cover and let rise 30 minutes.

Phew finally just a couple finishing touches. Sprinkle with an additional 1/2 tsp. black cumin seeds and 1/4 tsp. salt (use kosher salt if you want crunchier texture). Spread an additional 1/3 cup grape halves evenly over the dough, pressing in gently.

Bake at 475 degrees for 15 minutes. Loosen the bread from the pan with a spatula. And now enjoy the fruits of your labor, as you can imagine Jefferson doing 3 centuries or so ago. Cut the flatbread into 12 slices, each of which is 190 calories.

yeast $2.69
all-purpose flour $3.39
cornmeal $2.49
black cumin seeds $3.75
red grapes $3.59

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The Vegan Pantry

  • Vegan yogurt - Whole Soy
  • Vegan milk - Silk
  • Vegan Feta - Sunergia
  • Vegan Cheese - Galaxy Foods
  • Vegan Eggs - Ener-G
  • Vegan Butter - Earth Balance