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Snackbreads

Photo by: Joseph De Leo
Comments: 0
 

Recipe

In this sort-of sandwich, the filling is transformed into a topping. Now, don’t start getting creative with piles of goopy toppings; the beauty of these bite-size, pizzalike snacks is their minimalist style. Except for a drizzling of olive oil, a pinch of salt, a sprig of herb, and one primary ingredient, such as a scattering of cherry tomatoes, a piece of roasted radicchio, or some braised leeks, these snackbreads are best left plain, simple, and unembellished.

The light, airy texture of these little breads relies on the wet and somewhat messy dough. You’ll need to give the dough three rises and three folds to make it manageable to shape. Don’t be concerned with perfection when you’re shaping; the breads should be intentionally irregular. Start the sponge for the dough around 10 p.m. the night before, so that when the clock strikes “snacktime” on the next day, you’re ready to bake. Read through the recipe beforehand and have all of your toppings ready to go. Then, when you assemble the snackbreads, you can move as quickly as possible, making sure the dough doesn’t rise too much in the process.

Since I give exact measurements for the toppings for only one snackbread, the total quantities you’ll need will depend on how many of each type of snackbread you want to make. Make one or two kinds, or make the entire assortment. Some of the vegetable toppings, such as tomatoes, zucchini, or potatoes, are simply cut and baked with no further preparation to worry about. But others, such as the roasted-radicchio, red-pepper, and braised-leek, require a little bit of preparation ahead of time. Or seek out good-quality commercial toppings, such as roasted red peppers or artichokes, which are available in well-stocked supermarkets.

Yield: Makes approximately 30 3-by-2-inch oval snackbreads

Ingredients

  • 1 recipe dough for Crusty White Loaf
  • Flour, for dusting
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil, for brushing and drizzling over the toppings

Radicchio:

Roasted Red Pepper:

  • ¼ roasted red pepper,  torn into 2 1-inch-long strips
  • 3 small sprigs fresh thyme

Zucchini:

  • 1/6 of a 6-inch zucchini or crookneck squash
  • Pinch of fresh thyme leaves
  • Fleur de sel or kosher salt

Tomato:

  • 6 Sweet 100’s, or 3 cherry tomatoes cut in half
  • 3 small sprigs fresh thyme
  • Fleur de sel or kosher salt

Potato-and-Rosemary:

  • 1 small Yukon Gold potato
  • 3 small sprigs fresh rosemary
  • Fleur de sel or kosher salt

Champagne-Grapes:

  • 5 tiny clusters of champagne grapes (with about 5 grapes per cluster)
  • Pinch of anise seeds or fennel seeds
  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • Pinch of crystallized sugar

Directions

Prepare the dough.

Adjust the oven racks to the upper and middle positions, and preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper, and dust with flour.

Turn the dough out onto a heavily floured work surface. With both hands, gently stretch the dough from underneath until it’s about 1 inch thick.

Using a 1½-inch round biscuit or cookie cutter, cut out one circle at a time. (It may be necessary to rotate and twist the cutter as you’re cutting through the dough.) Using your hands, stretch each circle of dough from underneath, elongating it into an approximately 2-inch-long oval, and place it on the baking sheet. Working quickly, continue with the remaining circles, spacing them 1½ inches apart on the baking sheet.

Gently, so as not to deflate the dough, and working quickly, so the dough doesn’t rise too much, dab the ovals with olive oil, and arrange the toppings on them according to the instructions below. Firmly press the toppings deeply into the dough at irregular intervals with your fingertips, visualizing small valleys and hills you’re creating underneath and around the toppings.

Just before baking, toss a few cups of ice into the oven and close the door to create steam.

Bake for about 20 minutes, until lightly browned.

FOR THE RADICCHIO SNACKBREAD: Twist the wedge of radicchio to spread it out and press it onto the dough. Brush the top with olive oil, and sprinkle it with fleur de sel.

FOR THE ROASTED RED PEPPER SNACKBREAD: Rumple the 2 strips of pepper over the snackbread, pressing them into the dough. Press the thyme sprigs flat onto the dough.

FOR THE ZUCCHINI SNACKBREAD: On a mandoline or using a sharp knife, slice the zucchini or squash into paper-thin slices, about 1/8 inch thick. Arrange the slices in an overlapping row, dab with olive oil, and sprinkle with thyme leaves and fleur de sel.

FOR THE TOMATO SNACKBREAD: Press the tomatoes into the dough in a random pattern. Press the thyme sprigs flat onto the dough, brush with olive oil, and sprinkle with fleur de sel.

FOR THE POTATO-AND-ROSEMARY SNACKBREAD: On a mandoline or using a sharp knife, slice the potato into paper-thin slices, about 1/8 inch thick. Arrange the slices in an overlapping row and dab with olive oil. Poke the rosemary sprigs into the dough and sprinkle fleur de sel on top.

FOR THE CHAMPAGNE-GRAPE SNACKBREAD: Press the clusters of grapes into the dough, and sprinkle them with the anise or fennel seeds. Poke the rosemary sprigs into the dough, and sprinkle over both sugars.


© 2002 Nancy Silverton
 

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