My husband, daughter and I took a short getaway down to Boston for the school break this week. Staying at a hotel on the waterfront allowed us to wake up each morning to the refreshment of ocean breezes and the sound of coast guard shipmen preparing to keep us safe. We spent a good deal of our time at the Museum of Fine Arts, wandering its great halls.
We were touched by the worlds created by the artwork. A featured exhibit of Picasso’s works let us into the mind of the painter, while Renoir, Caravaggio, Whistler and Sargent introduced us to new places and people through the strokes of their brushes, through the color of the pigments so carefully blended. Each of the faces in the paintings spoke to us while the still lifes calmed and landscapes carried us to spaces both warm and intriguing.
We’ve been to the MFA many times since my daughter was a baby. On this visit, I was struck by a particular painting of a serious woman dressed in black. Her eyes pierced mine. While her adult daughters were moving away from her in the corner of the painting, so, too, was my daughter Isabel as she made her way across the gallery on her own, making meaning of what she saw without needing to be ushered through by me. It was an enchanting experience.
The days before our trip were bitter cold and lent themselves to indoor activities such as baking. I was inspired to make this Iranian Flatbread with Harvest Grains after a trip to our indoor winter farmer’s market where we pick up our weekly share of vegetables from Cedar Circle—an organic farm nearby in Vermont. Artisan cheesemakers were there along with farmers, and I wanted to make a bread worthy of the soft goat cheese, winter greens and sweet tomatoes we brought home. Closely based on a recipe from The Hot Bread Kitchen, the basis of this bread is a soft and supple that lends itself easily to shaping into a long loaf. Topped with a multigrain mix, it is suited to being the center of a meal. We enjoyed it with a green salad dressed with sunflower oil for lunch, later in the evening with grilled, grass-fed beef, roasted potatoes and a spinach salad.
I look forward to seeing you in my kitchen, gathering flavors, soon.
Iranian Flatbread (Nan-e Barbari) with Harvest Grains
Makes 2 14 by 5-inch loaves
- 2 cups lukewarm water
- 2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast (one envelope)
- 4 cups bread flour, plus more for shaping
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- canola oil
- 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon canola oil
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- ⅓ cup cool water
- 2 teaspoons King Arthur Flour Harvest Grains Blend*
- Stir together the water and yeast in a standing mixer fitted with a dough hook.
- Add the bread flour and salt and mix on low speed until the flour is integrated. Increase the speed to medium-high and mix until the dough is elastic, about 6 minutes. The dough should be cleaning the sides of the bowl. Coat the inside of a large bowl with canola oil and transfer the dough to to it. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or put the whole bowl in a large plastic bag and let rest at room temperature until the dough is softer than a firm ballow, is supple, and hold an indentation when pressed lightly, about one hour.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough in half. Gently form each piece into a rectangle and roll into a log. Loosely cover the pieces of dough with plastic wrap or a plastic bag and let rest at room temperature until the dough has rise and is supple, about 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, combine the all-purpose flour, sugar, ½ teaspoon canola oil, and the water in a small saucepan. Cook the flour paste over medium heat, whisking, until bubbles form around the edges and it becomes thick and opaque, about 2 minutes. Set aside to cool.
- Put a pizza stone on the lowest rack of the oven and preheat to 450 degrees F. Let the stone heat up for at least 30 minutes.
- Line the back of a baking sheet with parchment. Put one piece of dough on the parchment; leave the other covered in a cool place. Gently pulling the ends and pressing down on the down, extend it into a 14 by 5-inch rectangle. Using your fingers, press 5 deep lengthwise ridges into the dough, being sure not to break the dough. Rub half of the flour paste over the surface and sprinkle with half the Harvest Grains Blend.
- Slide the dough and parchment onto the hot stone and bake until the bread has puffed up and is golden brown, about 18 minutes. Transfer the loaf to a wire rack, dispose of the parchment, and repeat the process to make the second loaf.
- Serve warm.
- Store any leftovers in an airtight plastic bag at room temperature for up to a couple of days.
- With the exception of the King Arthur Flour Harvest Grains Blend, this recipe is exactly as written in The Hot Bread Kitchen by Jassamyn Waldman Rodriguez and the Bakers of the Hot Bread Kitchen. The original recipe calls for 1 teaspoon black onion seeds and one teaspoon sesame seeds.
- King Arthur Flour Harvest Grains Blend is a mixture of whole oat groats, wheat flakes, rye flakes sunflower seeds, sesame seeds flax seed, poppy seeds, and hulled millet.
- If you have a convection oven, set the oven to 425 degrees F.
- Serve this bread with a simple salad or a bowl of Hot and Spicy Sweet Potato Soup or both.