Strawberry Balsamic Flatbread
Am I the only jerk that still orders a medium coffee at Starbucks?
What am I supposed to say?… grande. When it comes down to order time, I always choke. I feel like I’ll sound like a complete tool ordering a grande… but now I realize that I sound more like a tool ordering a medium. I dunno…. it’s just coffee! Can you just give me coffee?
I was at a Starbucks this weekend, saying grande over and over in my head… I was focused. I was on my A-game. Then… I overheard the lady in front of me order some sort of half caf/nonfat/extra foam/iced/capp…. with less than half a pump of chocolate.
I was totally thrown off my game. Why would anyone order an iced cappuccino? With extra foam? What does that even look like? And I don’t think the chocolate croissant you just ordered is doing any favors to your nonfat iced creation. I’m so confused. What are you doing? And Lord! How much did that handbag cost you!? And does anyone really say handbag anymore… or is that like saying pocketbook!? I am old.
…. and then, when my turn came, I ordered a medium…. when all I was trying to do was be a normal person and order a grande.
… and then I went home and made strawberry bread… and that felt right. Then people came over and Whitney brought wine… and it felt even righter (more right, duh).
This bread is like a fluffy flatbread. Is that a thing? It’s like focaccia. That’s definitely a thing.
Let me walk you through this bread…. because I made it and I want you to make it too!
This bread has three rises. Don’t let that deter you. Three rises, but no mixer… does that make things better?
The first rise is yeast, warm water, and a cup of flour. It’s left for an hour to get foamy, frothy, and alive with yeast.
After the first rise, more flour is added… that’s what’s pictured above.
After the first rise, more flour, oil, salt, and sugar are added to the dough. It’s almost ready for the second rise!
But first we add orange zest… because it’s fragrant and delicious.
A little kneading, and the dough is ready for the second rise!
After the second rise, the dough is stretched and rolled out, and placed in a sheet pan.
Let is rise for a short time more and top with olive oil, sliced strawberries, and coarse sea salt.
Oh man. So pretty, right!?
After the bread is baked, it’s topped with goat cheese, balsamic vinegar and fresh mint. Look how fancypants this is! And it’s really not that hard!
The best part is serving it to friends. They’ll freak. I promise.
This bread is somewhere in between sweet and savory. It’s neither and both. It’s an enigma. The dough itself is only slightly sweet, but the added orange zest makes it seem just a touch sweeter. The goat cheese, mint, and strawberries also push this bread to the sweet end of the spectrum… but it’s certainly not very desserty.
Strawberry Balsamic Flatbread with goat cheese and fresh mint
makes 12 squares
recipe adapted from LA Times
2 packages (about 5 teaspoons) active dry yeast
1 cup warm water (between 110 and 115 degrees F)
3 cups of flour, divided into 1 cup increments
3 tablespoons, plus 1 teaspoon olive oil
3 tablespoons sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon orange zest
1 cup thinly sliced strawberries
coarse sea salt for topping
1/2 cup goat cheese crumbles
good quality balsamic vinegar, for drizzling
1 tablespoon fresh mint, coarsely chopped
In a large bowl, sprinkle the yeast over the warm water. Stir to dissolve. I use a fork so I can mash and stir any yeast clumps. Add 1 cup flour and blend together until smooth. Cover and set in a warm place to rise for 1 hour.
After the mixture has risen, remove the covering and stir in 3 tablespoons of olive oil, sugar, and orange zest. Add one cup of flour and stir to blend. Add the remaining cup of flour and salt and work together into a dough.
Place dough on a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes. If the dough is too sticky, add up to 1/3 cup more flour and knead. Dough will be slightly sticky, and that’s alright.
Clean out the large bowl and coat with 1 teaspoon olive oil. Place dough in the bowl, and flip it over so that it’s entirely coated in oil. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
Punch the dough down and knead for just a minute, before pulling and stretching the dough into a 16×9-inch rectangle. I used a rolling pin to help me to this. Place on a greased baking sheet and let rise for 30 minutes.
Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees F.
When dough has risen, use your fingers to make random indentations in the puffed dough. Drizzle with olive oil. Top with sliced strawberries, and sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Bake bread for 30 to 35 minutes, until golden, crisp and baked through. I rotated the pan once, halfway through baking.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Remove from the baking pan, slice into squares with a pizza cutter and drizzle with balsamic vinegar, goat cheese, and fresh mint.
This bread is best served within 2 days of baking.