The Art of Flatbread

I don’t always feel up to cooking a full dinner on weeknights, so I’m constantly trying to come up with what I call “blank slate” recipes that I can plug seasonal produce into at any time of year that allow me to put a meal on the table without having to think too much. Flatbread is one the best of these “blank slates.” The rolled-out dough becomes an empty canvas, for you to top with any combination of flavor and color that can be scooped out of the palette of your pantry. The dough can be flavored with various herbs and spices to suit your mood, or the season, as well.

Flatbread also lends itself well to being made ahead. You can mix a no-knead dough up the day before (I like to throw fennel seeds in mine), and it will be ready to go when you’re ready to bake. My all time favorite fall combination is also incredibly simple: wild mushrooms sautéed in sherry vinegar and butter, a soft, rich cheese, fresh herbs, and a whisper of flaky sea salt. I’m especially keen on black lava salt these days.

I like to use cheese from my home state of Tennessee. A local creamery called Sequatchie Cove makes a camembert style cheese called Dancing Fern, and it’s become a quick favorite flatbread topper. But any camembert, brie or similar soft cheese or a nice washed rind cheese would stand in beautifully. I tend to use whatever herbs I have on hand, but my favorites are fennel frond (to echo the fennel seed in the crust), flat leaf parsley, chives, and a snap of fresh thyme.

The key to a good, crispy flatbread is twofold: a pizza stone & a screamingly hot oven. Get your oven as hot as it will get. The ultra hot oven, plus the stone (which you allow to heat inside the oven as it comes to temperature so it’s also very hot), mimic the high temperatures of traditional ovens to create a perfect bubbling, crispy crust. When made this way, the flatbread bakes in a matter of minutes, so all that’s left to do is set the table, pour the wine, and enjoy a simple dinner. Any night of the week, it’s a perfect way to end the day.

Find the recipe for my Fennel Flatbread over at Kaufmann Mercantile’s blog Field Notes and find this gorgeous soap stone & copper pizza stone, hand pressed glass bowls, and black walnut pizza peel over at their store!

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