It's one of those things everyone is reluctant to make for themselves. Baking bread just seems like so much more of a pain in the ass than simply picking up a loaf at the grocery store. Sure, the visual will be just as pleasing if you buy focaccia or lavash, cover it in accoutrement, pronounce it "flatbread," and serve to unsuspecting friends and family. But one bite will betray. Nothing tastes like freshly baked dough, hot out of the oven.
Chef Oscar del Rivero makes a lot of flatbread from scratch at Peacock Garden Cafe. He says that "people should not be intimated by making bread at home, and flat bread is a great place to start. It is important to be patient with each step, add water slowly and watch closely until you achieve a smooth doughy consistency. You should not have any problem making the dough at home if you follow the instructions carefully."
Peacock's flatbread is covered in crisp asparagus and fatty prosciutto, but you should feel free to experiment. Chef del Rivero's other favorite toppings for flatbreads include artichoke hearts, eggplant, olives, and a sweet and salty version with figs and pancetta.
Flat Bread with Prosciutto and Asparagus by Chef Oscar del Rivero
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus extra, to taste
10 to 12 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups asparagus blanched
2 cups Parmesan cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
4 ounces prosciutto, thinly sliced
1 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
Combine the flour, baking soda, and 1 teaspoon of salt in the bowl of an upright mixer, fitted with a dough hook attachment. Mix on low speed until incorporated, about 2 minutes. With the machine running, slowly add the water until the mixture forms a dough around the hook.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead for 5 minutes until smooth. Cut the dough into 4 equal pieces. Form into disk shapes and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
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Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Place a grill pan over medium-high heat, or preheat a gas or charcoal grill. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out each piece of dough into an 8 to 10-inch circle, about 1/8-inch thick. Brush each circle with the extra-virgin olive oil and grill for 4 minutes on each side. Remove the flat bread from the grill to cool slightly.
Add the asparagus, parmesan, and prosciutto, and place in a 450 degree oven for 5 minutes until cheese begins to melt. To finish, place chopped basil on top and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and freshly cracked pepper.