Olive Oil and Potato Flatbread from Dan Lepard’s “Short and Sweet” Book
I downloaded the iPad version of Dan Lepard’s “Short and Sweet” yesterday at iBooks, and immediately set about joining the Twitter #shortandtweet baking challenge. Details : are here. The challenge conditions and guidelines are here.
The Olive Oil and Potato Flatbread was the first challenge I joined. I’ve never made flatbread, or focaccia. This was going to be a first for me, and I was quite excited by the prospect of learning something new.
I grated the potato directly into the bowl of water, which is a nifty trick because the potato flesh didn’t oxidize and turn that icky pinky-brown colour. Usually when I grate potato, it starts discolouring instantly – not this time. So I mixed all of the ingredients together, and we were off and running toward homemade flatbread.
There were the usual ‘stretch and folds’ at 10 and 20-minute intervals, and then ‘blanket folds’ that work the gluten and incorporate air into the dough. I’m familiar with this technique because I have Dan’s other book “The Handmade Loaf” which also uses this method of kneading and resting for gluten development. There was a good puffy, risen texture after the second blanket fold.
The dough was quite sticky but manageable with oiled hands. I must remember that oiled hands also mean oiled fingers, not just the palms of the hand as if you’re working in hand lotion. The dough stuck to my fingertips when I started poking dimpled holes in the dough and pressing it out to cover the surface of the baking sheet.
All was well. Dough flat. Dough dimpled with holes. Dough sprinkled with flaked salt. Dough softly glistening from olive oil. And then I noticed that the dough was springing back on itself, shrinking from the sides of the baking sheet. I quickly put the dough in the preheated oven, and almost immediately it starting rising. And rising. And rising. After 20-minutes, it was still rising.
The only thing flat about this flatbread is the baking sheet. I started posting SOS tweets: Is this like pita bread; it deflates when it cools? The answers came back with comments like what yeast did I use, did I stretch and fold the dough, and how’s the weather – is it raining there?
But bless my socks, it’s utterly delicious. When I realised that I had failed this challenge, I thought, Oh, what the heck … and put some thin slivers of fresh mozzarella on the top of the loaf to melt and caramelise during the last 10-minutes of baking. This is a very good addition, by the way.
I’d never made flatbread before now — actually, I guess I should qualify that by saying that I still haven’t made flatbread — I’ve made really delicious overstuffed pillows based on a flatbread recipe.
Should I try again or just stick with sourdough and boules. It seems that boules are my forte.
Note: It now seems possible that my bulbous flat bread went all boule-ish because I didn’t allow it to rest between the stretch and poke holes manoeuvre. I’ve decided to try this recipe again, and we’ll see if I can’t force this dough to stretch and stay stretched instead of springing back on itself into a ball like a slug on hot tin roof.