Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Grill Bread

I love reading other people's blogs. They can be so inspiring, in the sense that they make me want to cook lots of yummy stuff, immediately. They can also inspire a fit of mopey doldrums in which I think that in comparison, my photos and writing suck. But that's enough of that talk.

In the inspiring arena is Molly Watson's grill bread. She posted the recipe on her blog The Dinner Files. and in this post, she likens this bread to crack. That right there was intriguing, as we recently deemed some blueberry bars 'crack.'

Now, we didn't really need any more crack in our lives, especially as we were given some delicious raspberry bars from a friend--they were 'crack's cousin.' But Molly also wrote that a friend of hers had begged her not to make this bread. That sealed the deal. I mean, it has to be awesome if someone is begging you not to make it, right? In this case, yes.

Well, this bread was rather crack-like. Especially the pieces that did not drip through the grill grates, meld themselves to the metal, and carbonize. Molly's probably got mad skills because her grill bread, in her beautifully shot photo, looks amazing. Ours, not so much. We found that this whole grill bread thing has a steep learning curve. But by the time we had gotten to the end of the (huge) batch, we had it pretty much figured out.

Here's what we learned:
The dough that I made was waaaaay too wet. If I make it again, I'll probably use 7 cups of flour. Or 3 1/2, because it makes a lot of bread, so I might cut the recipe in half. Or, I might just try kneading it a lot longer.
I was more successful when the dough was rather dry and firm, because otherwise it plooged down between the grates of the grill.

A good coating of flour helps prevent sticking.
Grill the bread, at least to start, over indirect heat. If you put it directly over the flames (unless you manage to stretch it really thin), the outside will burn before the inside is cooked. Thin is good, by the way. I made my pieces too thick, so it was difficult to get them fully cooked without blackening the outside.

This bread is absolutely heavenly with some olive oil. It's also good with a fresh tomato. I also made an herby bean dip, which I may post here later, that was a nice pairing.

Grill Bread
(From The Dinner Files)
  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1 cup milk
  • 6 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon kosher salt
  • Olive oil for brushing
  • Coarse salt for sprinkling (don’t kid yourself, this is *not* optional)
Dissolve yeast in 2 cups lukewarm water. Stir in 1 cup lukewarm milk.

Stir in flour and salt until a dough forms (this is great to do in a standing mixer with a dough hook, if you have one). If doing this by hand, you may need to turn the dough out onto a counter and knead it to work in all the flour.

Lightly oil a large bowl and put the dough in it. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let sit to let dough rise until doubled in bulk, 8 hours or overnight.

Punch down the dough and let it sit another hour.

Meanwhile, brush your cooking grate with vegetable oil. Heat your grill to medium to medium-hot. You should be able to hold your hand about an inch over the cooking grate for two minutes second or so before it just feels way too hot. Don’t worry too much about this, however. Grill bread isn’t fussy.

Divide the dough into ten pieces. Work with one piece at a time and stretch it into a disk of some sort – oblong is cool, round is fine, crazy-shaped is always popular. Lay whatever shaped dough disk you have on the hot grill. Repeat with remaining pieces of dough.

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