Honeyed Apricot Flatbread with Rosemary

Apricot Flatbread 2

It’s truly summer. Lots of time away, running our five kids to swim, play, hike, visit cousins and squeezing in a vacation or two. So, I’m missing my normal kitchen time just a little. As part of my hopes to reconnect (with my kitchen), I started a sponge for ciabatta last night. Unfortunately, I was thinking about the timing today very well, and since we had a crazy day of violin lessons, meeting with middle school counselors, celebrating the birth of my cousin’s baby, and swimming, there was no chance for the ciabatta to become ciabatta. So, instead, I turned it into flatbreads to serve along with a fresh tomato soup, and then starting digging through the fridge for toppings. I did a couple with cheese and pepperoni for the kids, two with fresh figs and goat cheese, and then I tried something new, needing to use all the apricots on my counter (obviously, I just used a couple, but the rest are now happily stored in my freezer). I think I will do this one again, perhaps with plums or peaches next time. This idea is a riff from a memorable appetizer in Lisbon many years ago where I had the marriage of honey and rosemary and cheese for the first time. Still beloved!  So, here’s a little idea, if you need one, for a fun, and a little bit sweet, summer meal.

Honeyed Apricot Flatbread with Rosemary

pizza dough (any kind, but here’s my favorite)
1/2 c. ricotta cheese
4-5 fresh apricots (or peaches or plums), sliced in half and pitted
2 T. honey
a handful of rosemary

Preheat oven to 475 degrees, with a pizza stone, if you have one placed in the lower half of the oven.

After the pizza dough has had its final rise, shape it by stretching into a circle or oblong and place on parchment paper. Top with ricotta, dolloping it and then lightly spreading it. Then, place apricots on top, with the skins on the bottom. Drizzle honey over the entire flatbread, then sprinkle rosemary and a little bit of salt.

Using a pizza peel, place the flatbread on the pizza stone. Bake for 6-8 minutes, or until browned on top and bottom. Remove to a rack to let it cool for at least ten minutes before serving.

Apricot Flatbread 1

Provencal Fougasse

Fougasse 2
So, I’m actually not quite sure how to pronounce this word, despite my eight years of French, but this easy-to-make bread was so fun! By adding a little garlic and herbs at the beginning, it transformed the bread, and then it baked up simply, and was such a great accompaniment to soup. In fact, it was kind-of like making breadsticks, but much simpler. So, I hope my friend Debby, who I got to share this with, and many others enjoy this recipe! This recipe comes from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Baking.

Provencal Fougasse

3 cloves garlic, chopped
1T. chopped fresh rosemary
1 T. chopped fresh oregano (I used 1 t. dried, since I didn’t have any fresh)
1 T. chopped fresh thyme (Ditto the oregano here)
1/4 c. extra-virgin olive oil
1 package (2 1/2 t.) active dry yeast 
1 3/4 c. warm water (105-115 degrees)
4 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1 T. salt
Semolina flour for dusting
 
In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine the garlic, rosemary, oregano, thyme, and olive oil. Bring to a simmer and cook just until the garlic is tender, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.
 
 In the 5-qt bowl of a stand mixer, dissolve the yeast in the warm water and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Add the oil mixture, flour, and salt. Place the bowl on the mixer, attach the dough hook, and knead on low speed until the dough is smooth and elastic, 5-7 minutes.Remove the dough from the bowl.
 
Form the dough into a ball, transfer it to a lightly oiled bowl, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in a warm, draft-free spot until it doubles in bulk, 1 1/2-2 hours. 
 
Punch down the dough and turn it onto a clean work surface. Cut the dough in half with a sharp knife or a bench scraper. Shape each piece into a loose ball, cover with a dry kitchen towel, and let rest for 5 minutes.
 
Liberally dust 2 half-sheet pans or rimless baking sheets with semolina flour (or line the sheet with parchment paper). On a lightly floured work surface, roll out each portion of the dough into a rectangle with about the same dimensions as the prepared pan. Transfer each rectangle to the prepared pan, spreading it out with your hands if it shrinks when you pick up. Facing the narrow end of a rectangle, and eyeing the vertical center of it, use a sharp knife or a pizza wheel to cut 3 slits at an angle down the left side of the center, and 3 slits down the right side of the center. Gently pull on the dough to open the slits up slightly so that they widen into ovals. 
 
Cover the dough loosely with a dry kitchen towel and let the breads rise again until they double in size, 20-30 minutes.
 
Position a rack in the lower third of the oven, and preheat to 425 degrees. Bake the breads until they are lightly browned and sound hollow when tapped on the bottom, 15-20 minutes. Transfer to wire racks and let cool completely in the pans. Store tightly wrapped in aluminum foil at room temperature for up to 1 day or freeze for up to 2 weeks. Reheat at 375 degrees for 10 minutes.
Yield: 2 large flatbreads
Fougasse from WS