If you like olives, you'll want to make this flat bread for its own sake. But even if you're not a fan, try it with Caldo Gallego. Dunk it. The way the olive paste blends with the tomato meat broth is terrific.
A great thing about this dough is that you can make it, let it rise, shape it and bake it. Or, you can make the dough several hours in advance, even the day before and let it rise in the refrigerator. It just depends when you want to bake it. By putting the dough in the fridge, you can come back to it when you want. Cold dough is also easier to work with.
1. Whisk the water, yeast, and 1 cup of flour together until smooth. Then stir in the oil, herbs, and salt. Start stirring in the 4 cups of flour. When the dough gets too thick to stir, turn it onto the counter and knead in flour until the dough is satiny and moist without being sticky, about 10 minutes. (It's okay if you use a little more or less flour.) Smear with a few drops of oil, return to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let it double is size. (1 hour + or—on the counter, or in the refrigerator.)
2. When you're ready to go, turn the oven on the 400 degrees F. Dust your counter with flour and put the dough on the counter. Press it out to be about the size of a magazine. Spread the olive paste on one side (leave a little margin) and fold the dough over. Press the edges together.
3. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough to the size of your cookie sheet. Be gentle, but if any olive past squirts out, set it aside.
4. Brush olive oil on the cookie sheet and dust liberally with cornmeal. Lay the dough on the cornmeal. Don't worry if it doesn't quite fir. Smear any squirted-out olive past on top, then brush with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with cornmeal. Put it in a warm place to get puffy (On the stove is perfect).
5. When the dough is puffy—20 to 30 minutes , bake until well-browned, about 30 minutes.
Olive paste—This is great stuff and it keeps forever in the refrigerator. Unfortunately, at the moment you'll only find it in gourmet stores or upscale supermarkets. You're looking for jars, probably near jars of pesto, sun-dried tomatoes, capers, olives.... It is literally a purée of black olives and, depending on the brand, capers, herbs, and maybe anchovies. There's a green olive paste that I like too, but I can't find it as often.
Anyway, even though I like it in focaccia, I use the vast majority of it as a condiment. A glass of wine, some good bread or crackers smeared with goat cheese and a thin film of olive paste...we're talkin' bon.
Trick for washing doughy hands—Wash your hands with flour—rub your hands together with a little flour. A lot of the dough will ball up and fall off.
This page modified February 2007
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