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June 19, 2007 / Tony

Classic Tuscan Flatbread

This is one of my favorite breads to make at home.  It is easy, versatile, and satisfying.  It has an almost crunchy exterior, a soft interior, a very tight crumb, and wonderful flavor.  I detect a wonderful roasted grain flavor that goes well with the olive oil.  Here’s the link to the recipe

Here are some tips.  First, be careful as to how much oil you are using on top of the bread.  It is really easy to get carried away.  Too much oil will result in bread that does not brown correctly on top.  It will only become a pale golden color.  Second, feel free to use kosher salt instead of coarse sea salt.  Third, a great variation on the bread is to use infused olive oil.  What I like to do is to rub fresh rosemary in my hands and let it sit in the olive oil while the bread rises.  This will impart some of the rosemary’s essential oils to the olive oil.  Then, when you brush the olive oil on the bread, just let the rosemary pieces fall on the bread.  They will make a tasty and attractive garnish.  Fourth, another good variation is to stud the bread with Kalamata olives.  This adds a very tasty brininess to bread.  If you do this, however, use less salt as the olives are already very salty.  Fifth, feel free to shape this bread into any shape you like.  I actually prefer a rectangle.

This bread, as I said, is very versatile.  It is perfect with a salad for a light lunch.  You could also split the bread in half for some very nice sandwiches.  They are particularly good with Italian type meats and cheeses-why not try salami, mozzarella, shredded lettuce, and a balsamic vinaigrette for a really simple and tasty sandwich?  It is also great with soup.  The bread does get pretty crusty, so it does a wonderful job of soaking up soup. 

Last notes:  This bread is not focaccia and don’t treat it as such.  Yes, they are both flatbreads baked with olive oil but they are different.  Focaccia will be taller, softer, more heavily herbed, and probably oiler.  Classic Tuscan Flatbread will be crispier, flatter, and more heavily dimpled.  Yes, these are differences of degree but they are distinct breads.  This bread is also not a good “keeper.”  It will go stale in less than a day so plan on eating most of it the day it is made.  This usually is not a problem as it is very delicious.  If, by chance, there are leftover, I like to split it in half and toast it the next morning.  This is fairly tasty.  One other possible use, that I have not tried, is to make panzanella out of it.  Perhaps, that is something I will attempt this summer when tomato season finally arrives. 

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