Harissa Flat Bread with Olive Jalapeño Topping

Harissa Flat Bread
I was having a major pizza crave for the longest time, up until this past weekend and I am happy to report that I addressed it, big time, with home made flat breads and pizzas from scratch. Now looking back, I had been searching for a twist, a pleasant departure from the same old pizza, however good that same old may be. The inspiration struck when I spotted the jar of spicy red Harissa hiding in the fridge. It may sound like heresy to pizza loyalists out there but I am not particularly fond of the sweet marinara sauce. I like my pizza sauce savory all the way, a rich and spicy umami bomb. And Mina’s Harissa sauce was definitely up to the task.

Just as a note, I do treat and regard flat breads as pizzas, because they are. You see, the words for the Greek pita, Turkish pide, and the Italian pizza are strikingly similar for a reason. What makes the pizza a pizza is not the cheese, it is the bread.

So I set out, with the dough. If you are finding homemade bread/pizza doughs intimidating, you can always spring for a store-bought dough or a half baked crust. But I will go ahead and suggest you try making your own. It is actually pretty easy and it always feels like a big deal. If I can squeeze out some sense of accomplishment from something nearly trivial, I will go for it.

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The formula for the dough is given in the recipe that is included below this post, buried under a ridiculous amount of pictures for a recipe, because I was clearly having a pizza craze. The recipe aside, let me mention some finer points of dough making because a little intuitive understanding of it goes a long way in getting it just right.

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Let’s start with the flour. If you can find it, I highly recommend using a bread flour for this. The bread flours are higher in proteins which provide the robust stretchy structure characteristic of artisan breads. In contrast, the cake flours are lower in protein so they develop that delicate fluff. If you can’t find the bread flour, don’t sweat it, all-purpose will do. The proteins in wheat, while we are at it, happens to be called gluten.

The second important thing to understand is the yeast, which is a living organism (fungus, to be precise) that is activated when there is moisture. The yeast feeds on the starch of the flour as well as any sugar added, and it produces carbon dioxide (CO2). These little CO2 bubbles are trapped in the stretchy networks of gluten and since they can’t escape, they increase the volume of the dough, making it rise. How fast this happens depends on the temperature, moisture and sugar content. The yeast likes warmth, moisture and food, as we all do. This video probably does a better job explaining.

So that’s the short pseudo science to it. If you want to make a yeast dough fast, you need to start with a little more yeast and more sugar in the mix, and keep the dough toasty warm while rising. You can get away with this for many recipes, although you shouldn’t expect to make a sourdough in half an hour. Something’s got to give. What differentiates one type of bread from the other is often in the details of this rising process.

But if you are not very particular about a certain taste/texture, I suggest you start with a fast recipe like I am including here and experiment until you are happy with it.

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The kind of boat shape that I gave to my flatbread is one of my favorites. I like hand shaping the dough and I find it much easier to do this elongated shape than the circular pizza because I get annoyed when a circle doesn’t look much like a circle. Another plus to this particular shape is the edges (sides) and the ends which bakes into a delightfully crisp bread. The sides also help contain the fillings in case you are topping your pizza with something gooey like a good vegan cheese.

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It is also worth mentioning that this long flat bread is much easier to slice (and ultimately to eat) than a circular pizza, so another win there.

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4 from 1 vote
Harissa Flat Bread with Olive Jalapeño Topping
Prep Time
40 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
1 hr
 
Course: Entree
Cuisine: Vegan
Author: Dreamy Leaf
Ingredients
Dough
  • 3 cups bread flour or all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cup water
  • 2 teaspoons dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup or any other sugar
Filling
  • 1/2 cup Mina Harissa red pepper sauce
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup sliced black olives
  • 1/4 cup pickled jalapeños
  • 1/2 medium red onion thinly sliced
Instructions
Dough
  1. Mix the flour and the salt in a large bowl and set aside
  2. Heat up the water to a very warm temperature but it shouldn't be scalding. Test with your finger, if you can't keep the tip of your finger in there, it is too hot and will likely kill the yeast
  3. Dissolve the maple syrup in the water
  4. Add the yeast in the water and stir to mix
  5. Pour the water into the bowl with flour, start mixing with a utensil or your hand
  6. Knead until all the water is uniformly absorbed by the flour. If should be a fairly wet (sticky) dough but it shouldn't be too liquid like a batter. You should be able to form it into a ball. If it feels too dry, add another 1/4 cup water. You shouldn't need any more
  7. Keep kneading vigorously for about 5 minutes. Stretch out and elongate all that gluten in there.
  8. Form the dough into half dome in the center of the bowl and wet the outer skin lightly with water. Take a mental note of the size of the dough.
  9. Cover, optionally wrap with a towel to keep the warmth in, and keep in a warm place for 30 minutes
  10. If the dough has roughly doubled in size, it is ready to be shaped. But optionally, let it wait in the fridge for another 1-2 hours if you have the time.
Prep
  1. Preheat the oven to 400F (200C). It is really really important that the oven is hot. If you have a pizza stone, greatr!. If not, I highly recommend that you invest in one.
  2. Split half of the dough and, working on a clean surface dusted liberally with flour, shape the dough into a smooth ball. Note that half of the dough will make a pretty large flat bread if you are going for a thin crust. So feel free to split further for personal sizes or go for the big one.
  3. Press on the dough to flatten and working your fingers from center outwards, start shaping and spreading the dough. You may pick up the dough and pull to stretch further, taking care not to tear it. Keep the surface dusted with flour so that it doesn't stick.
  4. One the dough is the right shape and size, place it on a pizza peel dusted with flour
  5. Combine the harissa suace with tomato paste in a small bowl and spread half of the mix over the dough evenly. Feel free to adjust the quantity of the sauce to your liking.
  6. Fold the edges of the dough over (see pictures above in the post), and add your toppings.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the edges of the dough starts browning.

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#vegan #pizza #bread #harissa #olives #jalapenos

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