Last night marked the beginning of school holidays and I promised my children pizza for dinner. Baked at home. Originally I was going to make stone baked pizza on the barbecue but on a whim decided to try something a little different For years my Aunt has been raving about one of her favourite “pizza” dough recipes. Courtesy of one of her favourite cooks. Annabel Langbein. Previously I have also posted Annabel’s superb recipe for Strawberry Cloud Cake. This airy and delectable iced confection was my Aunt’s very first recommendation. So I knew this would definitely be worth a try.
Annabel’s original recipe is actually for Crusty Flatbread. With a Rosemary and Sea Salt topping. With a secret and rather non conventional ingredient. A generous cup of mashed potato. I think the idea is to use leftover mashed potato. My Aunt tells me that if she doesn’t have it on hand she substitutes a cup of mash made up with a packet of dehydrated mashed potato readily available from the supermarket. This substitution is quick and easy and works like a dream every time. Proving the point that here’s a time and place for everything.
For my first attempt at this recipe I went the original route. Making up a batch of freshly mashed potatoes. I wanted to road test the recipe in it original form as flatbread, and also as focaccia and pizza, so I made up a double batch of dough. The addition of mashed potato makes the dough a little sticky but wonderfully soft and supple. The end result? A beautifully fluffy dough. Stretched out thinly it makes impossibly light and incredibly delicious flatbread.
Patted out into a thicker round and studded with cherry tomatoes and fresh mozzarella. A gorgeous focaccia.
Rolled out a little thinner than the focaccia round and topped with tomato, cheese, ham and sopressa. A wonderful pizza. Light and flavoursome with a substantial crust. This recipe is definitely a keeper. Here is the original flatbread recipe. Courtesy of Annabel Langbein. The Free Range Cook.
Annabel Langbein’s Crusty Flat Bread
Makes 2 loaves
Crusty flat bread dough
1½ cups warm (not hot) water
1½ teaspoons dry yeast granules
1 packed cup cooked mashed potato
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
4½ cups high-grade or baker’s flour, plus extra for kneading
2 teaspoon salt
Rosemary and Sea Salt Topping
1-2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary leaves
½ teaspoon sea salt
PLACE warm water in a large mixing bowl (a bread maker or electric mixer with a dough blade is ideal if you have one). Sprinkle yeast over the water and allow to stand for 2 minutes. Mix in the mashed potato and the ¼ cup olive oil. Stir in the flour and salt and mix until the dough just starts to come away from the sides of the bowl.
TURN the dough onto a lightly floured board and using lightly oiled hands knead about 30 times (or for 3-4 minutes on the dough cycle of a bread maker). Place the dough into a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with muslin or a tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place for 3-4 hours or until it has doubled in bulk. You can also leave it in the fridge, covered, to rise slowly overnight.
WHEN you’re ready to cook your bread, place a baking stone on the centre shelf of the oven and preheat oven to 220˚C. Turn the risen dough onto a lightly floured board, divide in half and shape each half into a ball. Roughly flatten one ball onto a tray lined with baking paper, pressing the dough out to an oval shape about 25 x 20cm. Use your fingertips to press dimples into the top of the loaf, then drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with rosemary and sea salt.
SLIDE the baking paper with the dough on it off the tray and onto the preheated baking stone. Bake for about 25 minutes until golden. When cooked the bread will sound hollow when you tap it. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the baking stone for a few minutes, and then transfer to a rack to cool.
REPEAT with the other ball of dough. If you want to save the second ball of dough to use later, place it in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a clean cloth and place in the fridge for up to 48 hours. It also freezes well. Thaw before pressing out and baking.