Not-quite Fig and Not-quite Walnut Flatbread (BBB October 2022)

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feed the hungryBBB: Let's Keep Baking summary: recipe for Fruit and Nut Flatbread – why yes, it’s wild; late again, but this time it wasn’t completely my fault; staying at home (again!!!); information about Bread Baking Babes; World Food Day;

Bread Baking Babes (BBB): Fig and Walnut Flatbread

BBB October 2022

This month, Elle chose a beautiful fall-like flatbread from a cookbook by public TV personality, Joanne Weir. The flatbread would have been perfect for Thanksgiving. (If only I had thought of it in time!)

Not only is this flatbread beautiful to look at, it also has great texture: light on the inside and crisp on the outside. […] It would be great in the fall, alongside onion soup or a salad containing goat cheese or Stilton with a little walnut oil in the dressing.
 
– Joanne Weir, Joanne Weir’s More Cooking in the Wine Country, p.64

And then… just after Thanksgiving, the sky fell again. Not literally this time, but figuratively. First T tested positive for COVID and then, a couple of days later, so did I. Back into lock-down we went!

© ejm windy day ...quarantine

I have a confession to make. When I see Joanne Weir on TV, I cannot stop cringing. I’m not sure what it is about her that bothers me so. But. I have to admit that this recipe does look very good.

Naturally, I couldn’t prevent myself from making changes. Of course, I couldn’t. :lalala: Here is what I did to the BBBabes’ October 2022 recipe:

BBB Fig and Walnut Flatbread diary:

1 September 2022, 18:58 Wow! That looks beautiful! What a lovely choice. How brilliant of Pat to find that cookbook for $3!

I hope I can find dried figs (even fresh figs are a little tricky here – it’s not that they aren’t available; it’s that they are not the best). I love figs too, but am spoiled because the first time I tasted them was back in the last century when we were walking on a dusty country road in Tuscany. It was hot and close. There was fennel growing wild by the side of the road and the wildest sky. Suddenly there were giant rain drops splashing and bouncing in the dust. The rain was very short lived – not even long enough for us to get even remotely wet. Suddenly, there in the ditch above the fennel, we saw a fig tree that had clearly been planted by birds. The figs were within reach and perfectly ripe. I’ve never had figs like that again….

between Florence and Impruneta | 14th September 1994

We forged on climbing lots of hills. It was very windy, sometimes a bit rainy. We passed lots of olive groves and there was dill, rosemary and fig trees growing wild by the sides of the narrow dirt road. The fresh figs had an amazing taste mixed with the heady aroma of the rosemary and dill we had bruised with our trodding feet as we snagged the luscious fruit.
      As we crossed the highway we looked back at Florence in the distance to see the big dome of the cathedral being deluged with rain. In the distance, we heard thunder. We continued on in the gusty wind watching the occasional giant rain drop scatter the dust on the dirt road in front of our feet.
 
– me, my voluminuous diary of a trip to Tuscany 12-26 September 1994, between Florence and VolPaia

19:05 Being the freak I am, I translated Joanne Weir’s recipe measurements into grams. I hope it’s right. It’s really too bad that Joanne Weir isn’t a little more specific about how big her “sprigs of rosemary” are. But that definitely seems like something we’ll all be winging anyway. (Since when have any of the BBBabes followed a recipe to the letter?)

For the Marsala, I used Gourmet Sleuth’s measurements for Muscat, because Muscat and Marsala are both sweet – I was just making a guess that they would be pretty much the same. But again, this would be something we would wing. Indeed, some of us will be omitting the wine entirely because of its alcoholic content.

Kate Miller-Wilson (Love to Know) suggests “¼ cup of white grape juice, 1 tablespoon vanilla extract, 2 tablespoons of sherry vinegar” as a substitute for Marsala. I think I’d be inclined to add much less vanilla though. Possibly none at all. It might attempt to take over the flavour of the figs and walnuts.

2 September 2022, 08:14 This excerpt from Gourmet Sleuth is handy:
Here are some very good substitutes for dried figs. Per 8 ounces needed use: 
    Equal amounts of dried dates.  They are stickier when chopped.
    OR – Alternate with 8 ounces of pitted prunes
    OR – Use dried apricots which will vary the flavor more

15:41 Yay Pat, for clarifying how much rosemary to use:
I used three sprigs about 6 inches long for the oil, plus another couple stripped from the stem for the dough, chopped.
 
– Elle (aka Pat), in message to BBBabes

Pat also suggested using “a barely ripe nectarine…and then you can skip the dried fruit and Marsala, or use another combo like dates and pomegranate juice“.

Good idea about the dates. I might do that, and perhaps add a little dry sherry in place of the Marsala. Simply because we usually have dry sherry and rarely have Marsala or anything like it.

11 October 2022, 15:17 I’ve said it before; I’ll say it again: Good figs are pretty much impossible to get here, so I bought some beautiful-looking Ontario pears. That should work, don’t you think?

14 October 2022, 12:49 Rats!!! Rats!!! Rats!!! I woke up this morning with a sore throat, runny nose, and slight cough. (T tested positive on Wednesday for Covid.) I didn’t bother testing this morning. It’s clear that whatever the rabbit test might say, my result is indeed positive.

T is already feeling much much better; I’m working on getting through this as quickly as possible. But. Needless to say, it seems highly likely that I will be quite late with October’s bread. I’m so sorry!

16 October 2022, 16:21 Ha!! So much for using pears instead of figs. But, once we manage to shake Covidness in our household and are allowed out of jail, I’ll get more pears. (We’re having to eat the pears that I got to make the BBB bread topping, just as pears….)

28 October 2022, 15:14 I’m finally making this bread today. The dough is rising now but I have a question about the topping. In re:
Place the figs and Marsala in a small saucepan, and heat over medium heat until the Marsala bubbles around the edges, 1 minute. Remove from the heat and let stand for 1 hour. […] Drain the figs and distribute the figs, onions, and walnuts evenly over the dough.

I wonder how much wine is drained away from the figs? ie: is there much waste?? I hate the idea of throwing the soaking liquid down the drain, whether it’s wine OR fruit juice….

We don’t have any Marsala on hand so I’m thinking to use sherry. But a cup of sherry seems like a LOT of sherry. $$$$$$

Because the news is filled with stories of record numbers of people using the Food Banks and some Food Banks having to close because they don’t have enough to help those in need, I can’t help thinking about food insecurity. I do realize that we are the fortunate ones, to be concerned about the possibility of throwing away some wine. Especially when so many people cannot even afford to buy essentials like milk and bread.

But waste is waste, and shouldn’t be tolerated.

Judy suggested that we drink the leftovers. Ewwwww. That would be so cloyingly sweet.

17:47 I just par-boiled chopped dates in dry sherry. Unsurprisingly, I did NOT add a cup of sherry! Instead I used 4 tablespoons. There is still a little sherry in the container. It will be very interesting to see if all of it gets absorbed in the next hour.

But if there is any sherry left over to drain away, we’ll just throw it into the soup we are planning to have for dinner.

19:25 The oven is preheated and the bread is in the oven. I put the dates and pine nuts on just half of the bread, but red onions everywhere.

Let us just skate quickly over the “discussion” we had as it got later, and late, about the fact that the dough was not as lively as hoped. (It’s cold again. Of course things are slowed down!)

It probably didn’t help that the dough bowl had to be on the counter all day because there was yoghurt in the oven….

19:58 Whoa!! It smells fantastic!

Well.

I liked the bread and thought it was delicious with our equally delicious pork and bean soup laced with left-over Indian-style beet greens. The bread was beautifully crispy (but not too crispy) on the bottom, and soft and chewy in the crumb.

Alas, in the flurry of disappointments at how long it takes to make wild yeast bread when the kitchen is cold, I didn’t notice that the batteries had almost run out on both cameras. Therefore, there are very few photos….

BBB October 2022

Thank you, Pat! Despite some complaints, this was entirely delicious.

Here is the October 2022 BBB recipe that we were given. And here is what I did to it:

Wild Fruit and Nut Flatbread
based on Joanne Weir’s recipe for Fig and Walnut Flatbread

The potato water called for here is the water left after boiling peeled and quartered russet potatoes. Drain and mash the potatoes for dinner, or use them for another purpose, and reserve the water.
 
– Joanne Weir, Joanne Weir’s More Cooking in the Wine Country, p.64

makes one large flatbread

Leavener

  • spoonful (~15 grams) Jane Mason whole wheat starter from the fridge
  • 50 grams whole wheat flour
  • 50 grams water

Dough

  • flour
       » 310 grams unbleached “no additives” all-purpose flour
       » 10 grams wheat germ
  • 185 grams potato water
  • 50 grams extra virgin olive oil
  • all the leavener from above
  • 1 branch fresh rosemary – leaves only, coarsely chopped
  • 7 grams seasalt + 15 grams potato water

Topping

  • 6 Khudari dates, chopped coarsely (the BBB recipe calls for “6 – 8 dried figs, sliced [50 to 67 grams]”)
  • 4 Tablespoons dry sherry (the BBB recipe calls for “1 cup Marsala wine [240ml/240grams]”!)
  • good splash extra virgin olive oil
  • red onion, cut in half moons
  • 0 (yes that’s “zero”) grams sugar (the BBB recipe calls for “1 tablespoon sugar [12 grams]”)
  • 0 (yes that’s “zero”) grams (the BBB recipe calls for “1/2 teaspoon greated orange zest [1 gram]”)
  • pine nuts (the BBB recipe calls for “3/4 cup walnut halves [75 grams]”)
  • coarse seasalt
  1. Leavener: On the evening before you will be baking pletzel, mix leavener ingredients in a smallish bowl. Cover the bowl with a plate and leave overnight in the oven with only the light turned on because the nights are cool again (or with the light turned off if it’s still warm).
  2. Dough: On the morning of the day you will be baking the bread, take a small spoonful of the leavener and see if it floats in a bowl of cool water. It probably will. However, if the leavener has a concave surface, sprinkle in a little more whole wheat flour and the same amount by weight of water. Stir, cover and let rest for about 30 minutes to check again. It’s very likely that it will float. When it floats, proceed with making the dough by dumping flour and wheat germ. Add 185 grams potato water, 50 grams olive oil, and all the leavener. Using a dough whisk (or wooden spoon), mix these ingredients to make a rough dough. Cover the bowl with a plate and leave on the counter for about 40 minutes.
  3. Adding the Salt and Rosemary: In a small bowl, whisk the salt into 15 grams of potato water (if there’s no potato water left, just use water). Pour the salt mixture over the dough. Add the chopped rosemary leaves and notice several hours later that you were supposed to infuse some of the rosemary into the olive oil before adding it to the dough. Decide not to care that you neglected to read through the recipe – again. :lalala:
    In a small saucepan, warm the olive oil and rosemary. Remove from the heat and let cool for 1 hour. Discard the rosemary sprigs. Set aside.
     
    – Joanne Weir, Joanne Weir’s More Cooking in the Wine Country, p.64
  4. Kneading: Use one of your hands to squoosh the salt, water, and rosemary leaves into the dough; use the other hand to steady the bowl – this way you always have a clean hand. At first the dough might be a bit messy and seem like it’s coming apart. Persevere. Suddenly, it will seem more like dough than weirdly folded, slimy glop. Keep folding it over onto itself until it is relatively smooth. Cover with a plate and leave to rest for about 30 minutes.
  5. Repeat the above step 2 or 3 more times.
  6. Topping, Part 1: Pit the dates then cut them into quarters. Put the pieces into a small pot over medium heat and cover them with about 4 Tablespoons sherry. Leave the fruit bubbling gently in the pot for 1 minute. Remove from the heat, cover and set aside until it’s time to shape.
  7. Pre-shaping and adding onions: Cut a piece of parchment paper to fit a rimmed baking sheet. Using your fingers, oil the parchment and place the dough in the center. Use your fingers to stretch it towards the edges of the pan. It will try to bounce back. This is to be expected. When it’s almost to the edges, scatter the top with the sliced onions, then cover with a clean tea towel and allow to rest on the counter for about 30 minutes.
          Once again, notice several hours later that you neglected to caramelize the onions first. Once again, decide not to care.
    Heat the 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the onions […] and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are very soft, 15-20 minutes.
     
    – Joanne Weir, Joanne Weir’s More Cooking in the Wine Country, p.66
  8. Preheat the oven: About 20 minutes before baking the bread, turn the oven to 450F.
  9. Shaping and finishing the topping: Just before putting the bread in the oven, scatter pinenuts and drained date pieces on top. (There probably won’t be much liquid left, but if there is, save it to add to soup, or gravy, or….) Drizzle some olive oil over top. Use your fingers (wet them under cold running water if you want) to dimple the dough gently. Sprinkle coarse sea salt.
  10. Baking: It takes from 20 to 30 minutes to bake. Place the tray on the middle shelf of the oven and bake until golden. It’s a good idea to turn the tray around half way through the baking time – to allow for uneven oven heat.
  11. Remove the bread onto a wooden board and allow it to cool briefly before using a pizza wheel to cut it into reasonable sized pieces.

Serve immediately with soup or stew. Leftovers can be reheated in the toaster oven. The bread is delicious with hummus.

Notes:

Potato Water: Wash potatoes (and peel too, if you want – but we rarely bother). Cube or slice the potatoes and put the pieces into a small pot. Cover with cold water, cover and bring to a boil, cooking until the potato pieces are fork tender. Drain the potato, reserving the water for the bread dough. Make sure the water is cooled to baby-bottle temperature before adding it to the dough.

Reserve the potato pieces for making home-fries for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Topping: The BBB recipe calls for dried figs, red onions, and walnuts. While figs are wonderful, they are not necessarily readily available. We decided to use dates as a substitute. Our local supermarket carries a number of different kinds of dates because of the largish population of middle Eastern immigrants here. Medjools would be good, but what we have on our shelf are Khudari dates; (they are delicious).
Khudri dates are moderately sweet with a nice “Date” flavor, chewy but not dry.
– Daniel Solo, Khoshbin Group | 14 Most Popular Types of Date Fruits

      We thought we had walnuts but, a little like Old Mother Hubbard, discovered there were very few in the freezer – ie: a pecans/walnuts container that contained only a few pecans. However, there were zillions of pinenuts in the pinenuts container.
      We also thought it would be nice to add rosemary to the top as well as in the dough itself. Next time, we plan to follow Joanne Weir’s lead and infuse the rosemary flavour into the olive oil by pulling off the rosemary leaves and putting just the woody rosemary stems into the olive oil.
[Remove the leaves from the rosemary sprigs and set aside.] In a small saucepan, warm the olive oil and rosemary [stems]. Remove from the heat and let cool […]. Discard the rosemary [stems. Use cooled rosemary-infused oil in dough and on topping].
 
– revised from “Joanne Weir’s More Cooking in the Wine Country”, p.64

Baking Temperature and Time: Please remember that our oven is different from yours, so the baking time and temperature may need to be different.
Most domestic ovens, whether gas, electric, fan assisted or solid fuel, will bake bread quite adequately. But, not surprisingly, some are better than others. […] [T]he temperature in the oven may have to fall by as much as 30°C before the thermostat calls for renewed heat, so the item being baked is subjected to a constantly oscillating temperature. […] The knobs and dials on domestic ovens are notoriously unreliable. Even where they indicate a precipe temperature rather than a rough guide or a regulo number, you should regard the setting as approximate. […] [A]ll that is really required is to know what setting gives a cool, moderate or hot oven. […] [I]f you understand roughly what heat a loaf requires (e.g. pretty hot for a big, wet, rye sourdough, moderate for an enriched sweet bread), you won’t go far wrong
 
– Andrew Whitley, Bread Matters, Chapter three: Taking Control

 

We finished off the bread for breakfast, serving it with hummus. Breakfast was brilliant. Even the nay-sayer said the bread was good with hummus.

Bread Baking Babes BBB: Let's Keep BakingFig and Walnut Flatbread

Pat (aka Elle) is hosting October 2022’s Bread Baking Babes’ project. She wrote:

Don’t you love bookstores…and cookbooks? I found one on sale recently ($3 when original price was $32!) at a local bookstore and it had a recipe for a rosemary scented flatbread topped with figs and onions and walnuts. It seems like a great recipe for October […] [that is] made with potato water. You get a soft, slightly sticky dough. This one also includes both olive oil that has steeped in fresh rosemary, and some chopped fresh rosemary. Bread baked with rosemary smells soooo good while baking.
 
The topping is lovely, but if you have a variation or even a different topping, go for it! The bread is why I’m choosing this as the recipe of the month for October…
 
– Pat (aka Elle), in messages to BBBabes

We know you’ll want to make flatbread with rosemary and potato water too! To receive a Bread Baking Buddy Badge to display on your site: make the flatbread in the next couple of weeks and post about them (we love to see how your bread turns out AND hear what you think about it – what you didn’t like and/or what you liked) before the 29 October 2022. If you do not have a blog, no problem; you can also post your picture(s) to Flickr (or any other photo sharing site) and record your thoughts about the bread there. Please remember to contact the Kitchen of the Month to say that your post is up.

Please note that it’s not enough to post about your bread in the Facebook group. Because of the ephemeral nature of Facebook’s posts, your FB post may be lost in the shuffle. Please make sure to directly contact the kitchen of the month if you want to be included in the BBBuddy roundup.

For complete details about this month’s recipe, the BBB and how to become a BBBuddy, please read:

Please take a look at the other BBBabes’ October 2022 flatbread:

 

World Food Day
World Food Day 2022
Leave NO ONE behind – FAO.org

This year on World Food Day, we were running low-grade fevers and in quarantine because of Covid19. But we were not perennially hungry. We had both been vaccinated so the virus didn’t affect us nearly as much as it has done for others. We have recovered.

While World Food Day takes place on 16 October every year, please remember that for too many people, there is food insecurity every day of the year.

2022 finds us with an ongoing pandemic, conflicts, a climate that won’t stop warming, rising prices and international tensions. This is affecting global food security.
 
We need to build a sustainable world where everyone, everywhere has regular access to enough nutritious food.
 
No one should be left behind.
 
– FAO of the UN, World Food Day (fao.org/world-food-day/en)
[M]illions of people around the world cannot afford a healthy diet, putting them at high risk of food insecurity and malnutrition. But ending hunger isn’t only about supply. Enough food is produced today to feed everyone on the planet.
 
The problem is access and availability of nutritious food, which is increasingly impeded by multiple challenges including the COVID-19 pandemic, conflicts, climate change, inequality, rising prices and international tensions. People around the world are suffering the domino effects of challenges that know no borders.
 
Worldwide, more than 80 percent of the extreme poor live in rural areas […] Some of us are vulnerable because of who we are or where we live, but the reality is that we are all fragile. When someone is left behind, a chain is broken. This impacts not only the life of that person, but also ours.
 
In the face of global crises, global solutions are needed more than ever. By aiming for better production, better nutrition, a better environment, and a better life, we can transform agrifood systems and build forward better by implementing sustainable and holistic solutions that consider development in the long term, inclusive economic growth, and greater resilience.
 
– FAO of the UN, World Food Day: About (fao.org/world-food-day/about/en)

Take Action

  • Learn from nature: Nature works tirelessly on our behalf providing us with our essential needs – water, food, clean air, medicine, and materials for shelter. But the way we produce, consume and waste food is putting unnecessary pressure on natural resources, the environment and climate. It’s time for us to learn from nature and work with it, not against it. […] [Please read more about what you can do here: FAO.org | Take Action]
  • The Hurdles
    Three years into the pandemic, two things
    have come into sharp relief. One is how
    interconnected our economies and lives are. The
    other is that on the road to recovery, too many
    people are being left behind and are unable to
    benefit equally from innovation and prosperity.
    Battered by conflict, economic crises, inequality, the climate crisis and rising food prices, today, 3.1 billion people around the world still cannot afford a healthy diet.
     
    – FAO of the UN, World Food Day: Leave No One Behind: Better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life (fao.org/3/cc0689en/cc0689en.pdf)

 

One more thing: Keep wearing your masks! It’s not such a big sacrifice to make. After all, COVID-19 is not just like a bad cold. It is a serious, highly contagious virus that – in spite of politicians spewing out that the Pandemic is over, or that we should get on with our lives – still has shocking and heart-breaking consequences.

Clementines, Tom Mueller, December 2020
oil on board

I treasure these clementines that hang in our kitchen. I love them now even more than ever. Last August, we finally framed the clementines, using the colour of frame that Tom had recommended 8 months previously, when I bought the painting. Silly me. I thought he was wrong and that the clementines should be framed in black. Of course, Tom was right. Look how the clementines pop out.

RIP Tom Mueller, best colleague and friend, 1965-2022

[W]e should still be wearing masks, and we don’t need a mandate to wear them. You don’t need someone to tell you to use an umbrella when it’s raining.
 
– Dr. Angela Cheung, senior physician scientist with Toronto’s University Health Network, October 2022

Bloggers Against Hunger
 
Working together with the
World Food Programme
to prevent hunger

(As always, if you have something to add or say about the pandemic and/or ending world hunger, please remember to post your thoughts and ideas on your blog, facebook, at work, etc. etc.)

5 responses to “Not-quite Fig and Not-quite Walnut Flatbread (BBB October 2022)

  1. Katie Zeller (Thyme for Cooking)

    Glad you are feeling better again. And what better way to celebrate than baking bread!
    I still wear a mask. It just occurred to me the other day that I wouldn’t have been wasting money after all had I bought that Christmas mask back in 2020…. Sigh….

    edit 17 November 2022, 09:24: Thank you, Katie. We’re glad too. And yes, I was thinking the same thing about masks the other day when I heard the latest announcement saying we should be wearing masks indoors again. – Elizabeth

    Reply
  2. Kelly (A Messy Kitchen)

    Glad I turned my leftovers into french toast casserole so as not to waste them! You should publish that Tuscany diary.

    edit 17 November 2022, 09:34: Ooh, French toast casserole: good idea, Kelly! I did start to publish my Tuscany diary in the travel section of this site. It’s on my list of things to finish. :lalala: – Elizabeth

    Reply
  3. Elle (Feeding My Enthusiasms)

    As usual your write-up is a thing of beauty and a joy to read! Soooo glad that you are both over COVID. It’s no fun. Very glad that you had pears to eat while you got better. Super glad that you figured out how much sherry to use so there was no waste to speak of. Most of all, I love your bread…great to look at and sounds like it was good to eat, too. Dates and pine nuts are a great set of substitutions and more rosemary on top would have been fantastic, too.

    edit 17 November 2022, 09:35: Thank you, Elle! That is so kind. And thank you again for choosing this bread. It was delicious. – Elizabeth

    Reply
  4. Cathy (Bread Experience)

    I’m glad you’re feeling better and up to making bread again. Your sourdough date and pine nut flatbread looks delicious. I bet it went well with the soup.

    edit 17 November 2022, 09:36: Thank you, Cathy. And yes. The bread went brilliantly with soup. – Elizabeth

    Reply
  5. Karen's Kitchen Stories (Karen's Kitchen Stories)

    Glad you’re feeling better. I really like your substitutions. I have planned on re-doing this bread with a different crust and maybe the pears that Kelly used. Love your red onions.

    edit 17 November 2022, 09:37: Thank you, Karen. We really liked the red onions too. We couldn’t believe it when we saw that a 10kg bag of them was less expensive than the same weight of cooking onions at the supermarket. Naturally, we had to buy them. They’re so beautifully sweet! – Elizabeth

    Reply

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