Category Archives: Baking

Chai Peach Clafoutis

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Chai Peach Clafoutis

Let me begin by saying that two weeks ago I’d never heard of “clafoutis.” I didn’t know how to pronounce “clafoutis.” I certainly did not foresee myself making “clafoutis,” and then eating it three separate times in the same day. I wanted to tell you the proper way to pronounce clafoutis, so like any red-blooded American I went to Wikipedia.

Reading through the clafoutis article just now, I’ve realized that this dish can only be called a clafoutis if it is made with cherries. When made with other fruits, it is referred to as a “flaugnarde” which is really even more ridiculous than clafoutis and I can’t quite handle that. Let’s just continue to refer to it as a clafoutis, simply because this whole mess is getting too French for me.

So back to the pronunciation thing: since I also don’t know how to read phonetic symbols (although I did attend approximately 28% of the scheduled classes for my phonetics lecture at university), I’m going to guess that it is pronounced like “kla-foo-tee” with extra emphasis on the “tee.” Please correct me if I’m wrong!

Right, so whether you are making a clafoutis with cherries or a flaugnarde with peaches, the method is the same. You’re essentially mixing fresh fruit with a delicious flan-like custard and baking it in the oven. It’s heaven, really. My incredible friend Michele came over the morning I was baking this and we weren’t sure if it was meant to be a breakfast or a dessert. So we ate it for breakfast. And then later I ate it for dessert. And maybe in between those two events I snacked on it midday.

Chai Peach Clafoutis from www.IfLooksCouldKale.com

My kitchen was overflowing with an abundance of ripe, delicious peaches so I wanted to make something that really showcased their sweet flavor. This (faux) clafoutis did the job perfectly. I decided to mix things up a bit and spice the clafoutis with chai spices to complement the fruit.

Chai Peach Clafoutis from If Looks Could Kale food blog.

Rather than using a traditional pie dish, I decided to bake the clafoutis in a cast iron skillet. I don’t know why but I just love making desserts in that thing! It makes everything seem so rustic and lovely.

I adapted Julia Child’s original clafoutis recipe because it seemed like a perfectly good place to start. I just finished reading Julie & Julia (I must be the last food blogger on the planet to read it!), so Julia Child has been on my mind lately. Since I also recently bashed French food as being unnecessarily complicated, I thought that you might appreciate a simple and delicious addition to your European repertoire.

Chai Peach Clafoutis from If Looks Could Kale

Ready? Here’s the recipe!

Makes: 6 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 3 ripe peaches
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 1/4 c. milk
  • 2/3 c. granulated sugar, divided
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp.  salt
  • 1/2 c. flour
  • powdered sugar, for garnish

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. Set out a large bowl of ice water. Use a sharp knife to score the bottom of the peaches with a large “x”, then place them in the boiling water for 30 seconds. Remove, and plunge immediately into the ice bath. Let sit for another 30 seconds, then place on a cutting board to rest for a few minutes. Starting at the bottom of the peach, use your fingers to peel back the skin by tugging on the corners of the pre-scored “x.” Once peeled, discard the skins and thinly slice the peaches.
  3. Place the cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, cloves, and coriander into a large blender. Add 1/3 c. sugar, eggs, vanilla, salt, flour, and milk and blend until smooth.
  4. Grease a 9-10″ cast iron skillet with butter and pour in a 1/4 inch layer of the batter. Bake for about 2-3 minutes or until a film of batter just barely sets in the pan. The rest of the batter will still be raw.
  5. Remove from the heat and keep the oven on. Lay the sliced peaches over the batter in a circular design. Sprinkle the remaining 1/3 cup of sugar over the peaches, then pour on the rest of the batter.
  6. Bake for another 45 minutes to 1 hour. Remove from the oven when it is puffed and brown, and a knife comes out clean. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, serve warm.

Chai Peach Clafoutis from If Looks Could Kale

Nutrition (per serving):

225 calories, 4 g. fat, 6 g. protein, 41 g. carbs, 2 g. fiber. WW PointsPlus: 6

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Cherry Garcia Bars

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Cherry Garcia Bars

I only recently discovered Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia ice cream, which must make me the last person on the planet to do so as it is their number one selling flavor. A few weeks ago on a particularly hot summer day the husband and I roamed over to the nearest 7-11 to pick up some ice cream treats and I paid a whopping $3 for a Cherry Garcia ice cream bar. While stupidly over-priced, it was also stupidly delicious.

When a big box of bing cherries found their way to my doorstep (Thanks, Harry & David!) I decided that they needed to be sacrificed to the Cherry Garcia gods. I took what was left over after making the Elderflower Sangria and spent the next hour painstakingly halving and pitting every last cherry. Throughout this process I had a brilliant idea to invent a gadget which would pit cherries for me, only to find that I’m also the last person on the planet to hear about the wonderful invention that is a cherry-pitter. Hold on while I add that little baby to my Amazon wish list…

Okay, I’m back.

After my fingers were stained blood red and I’d successfully developed a case of carpal tunnel, the cherries were prepped and ready to go.

I made a shortbread crust and a brown butter filling to contain all of the ooey-gooey cherry-chocolate madness.

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The brown butter flavor really adds a layer of complexity to these bars and plays up the flavor of the fresh cherries.

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Waiting for these babies to cool was by far the most difficult part of the process.

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Ohhhh yeahhhh (make sure you read that with the Kool-Aid man’s voice).

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The delicate buttery flavor of the shortbread works so well with the complexity of the brown butter. I’m considering making a cranberry and cream cheese version with a graham cracker crust when the holidays come back around.

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Be still my heart!

Here’s the recipe:

Makes: 1 serving  (just kidding…. or am I?)

(Makes one 9×13 pan)

Ingredients:

[For the shortbread crust]

  • 3/4 c. unsalted butter, melted
  • 2/3 c. sugar
  • Caviar from half of a vanilla bean
  • 2 c. plus 2 Tbsp. flour
  • 1/8 tsp. salt

[For the filling]

  • 1 c. unsalted butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 c. white sugar
  • 1/3 c. brown sugar
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 c.  flour
  • 1 tsp. bourbon (or try almond extract)
  • Caviar from half of a vanilla bean
  • 4 c. cherries, halved and pitted
  • 3/4 c. semi-sweet chocolate pieces, roughly chopped (all I had were chocolate chips, but it would have been much prettier with hunks of baking chocolate!)
  • 1 Tbsp. all purpose flour

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a 9″ x 13″ baking pan with parchment paper, letting the paper come up the sides.
  2. Take the 3/4 c. melted butter and mix with 2/3 c. white sugar and the vanilla bean caviar in a medium bowl. Add the flour and salt and mix with a spatula until combined. Dump the dough into the prepared baking pan and press into shape using your fingers.
  3. Bake the shortbread crust for 17-19 minutes, or until golden and puffed. Remove from oven and let cool on a wire rack. Keep the oven on.
  4. Meanwhile, toss the cherries with a heaping spoonful of all-purpose flour.
  5. Dice the remaining cup of butter and place in a small heavy-bottomed pot. Heat over medium for 6 minutes, stirring constantly. The butter will foam, turn clear, and then turn a golden brown color. Remove from heat and pour into a glass liquid measuring cup. (Don’t be like me and pour it into a drinking glass without a handle and then burn yourself trying to pick it up.)
  6. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or use a regular bowl and hand mixer), use the whisk attachment to combine the sugar, eggs, and salt. Add half of the flour, then the bourbon, the rest of the flour, and the vanilla bean caviar.
  7. Once smooth, slowly pour in the browned butter with the mixer running to incorporate into the mixture.
  8. Arrange your cherries and chocolate on top of the cooled shortbread crust. Pour the filling mixture evenly over the top. Return the pan to the oven and bake for 28-32 minutes, or until the top has turned golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean.
  9. Cool for fifteen minutes in the pan, then use the parchment paper to remove the bars from the pan and place on a rack to cool completely.
  10. Once completely cool, use a serrated knife (bread knife works great) to cut into bars. Store bars in the fridge if you don’t consume them all within 24 hours.

Nutella Fudge

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Nutella Fudge

Fudge is scary.

I remember trying to make fudge from scratch at Christmastime just to end up, year after year, with a disgusting, burnt mess stuck to the bottom of my mom’s nice cookware. For the last few fifteen years, I’ve made fudge at Christmas using the good ole’ Eagle Brand recipe, which is basically sweetened condensed milk and chocolate chips melted together. Decent, but not like the real stuff. I’ve avoided trying many fudge recipes in my day, partially out of fear of ruining my cookware, and partially because I keep forgetting to buy a candy thermometer.

When I saw this recipe for Nutella Fudge, I was intrigued. I’ve adjusted the recipe a bit to suit my own needs, but you should head over to Not Your Momma’s Cookie to check out the original.

Now this recipe isn’t a classic scratch fudge recipe, either – it is something deliciously new to my world of fudge. I highly recommend that you go make it. Right now.

Don’t worry, I’ll wait.

Oh, you’re out of Nutella? Okay, well here’s a little inspiration to get you on your way to the grocery store.

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Oh, yeah. That’s some good fudge.

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Here’s how I made it:

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 c. butter, salted
  • 1/2 c. half & half
  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • Caviar from one vanilla bean
  • 1 c. Nutella
  • 2 1/2 c. powdered sugar, sifted (make sure you sift it!)
  • Optional toppings (which I didn’t think of until after I made the batch above): chopped hazelnuts, pretzel pieces, white chocolate chips, toasted coconut, or crushed candy canes.

Directions:

  1. Sift your powdered sugar into a large bowl and set aside.
  2. Line an 8×8 baking dish with parchment paper, letting the edges hang over on two opposing sides to make a sling. This makes removing and cutting the fudge a LOT easier once it has set.
  3. Melt your butter in a heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat.
  4. Add your brown sugar, vanilla bean caviar, and half-and-half and bring the mixture to a boil. Let it boil, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes.
  5. Move the pan to a cool burner and stir in the Nutella. I’d recommend spritzing your measuring cup with a little non-stick spray before putting the Nutella in there, which will make it less likely to stick.
  6. Once the Nutella is thoroughly mixed in, transfer the contents of the pot into the bowl with the powdered sugar in it. Mix quickly and thoroughly until all of it is combined. It will be pretty thick – if it seems thin, add more powdered sugar.
  7. Dump the whole mess into your baking dish and stick it in the fridge for 2 hours. Remove by grabbing the excess parchment paper and lifting. Transfer to a cutting board and cut it up!

Enjoy!

nutellafudge3

Grilled Flatbread Pizzas

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Grilled Flatbread Pizzas

I usually prefer to cook on the grill when the weather is nice, but this week the weather has been total crap. Portland is notorious for rainy weather and this week has been no exception. I braved the cold and fired up the pellet grill to make some grilled flatbread pizzas and let me tell you, it was worth it!

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Grilled Flatbread Pizza

I had made the pizza dough the previous Sunday and kept half the recipe in the fridge and put the other half in the freezer for a rainy day (like today…. see what I did there?). Pizza dough freezes really easily; just remember to freeze it after you’ve given it its first rise, then let it thaw in the fridge (in a bowl!) and let it have a second rise on the counter for about an hour to let it come to room temperature before you use it.

Let me share some first-hand knowledge with you: never keep pizza dough in the fridge as a ball wrapped in saran wrap. The dough will expand and burst through the saran wrap making a total mess out of your fridge. I’ve included my recipe for pizza dough for grilling at the bottom of this post.

Since I hadn’t planned ahead for this meal by purchasing pizza topping items, I had to dig around through the fridge and pantry to find some ingredients. I ended up deciding on three different types: a “traditional” version for the husband, a “gourmet” version for myself, and a “Thai” version because I just can’t help myself. And because I am STILL trying to use up that leftover peanut sauce.

For the “traditional” version I used pretty traditional pizza ingredients – go figure. We’ve got mozarella cheese, sliced ham, tomatoes, onion, and pizza sauce. I didn’t have any pizza sauce on hand so I made my own with tomato paste, a bit of water, and seasonings (salt, pepper, a touch of sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, and red pepper flakes). photo (6)For the “gourmet” version, I pulled out all of the fancy schmancy jars I had in the fridge and said “good enough.” My mother-in-law sometimes brings over these awesome gourmet foods for us, and almost everything you see here is courtesy of her care packages. We have roasted red peppers, an artichoke heart, Parmesan cheese, olive tapenade, and garlic gold (in the bowl).

photo (8)Garlic gold is something new to my life but it is incredible. It’s basically high-quality oil studded with these perfectly crunchy bits of garlic. It really is pure gold. I also used some mozzarella on the “gourmet” version to help hold everything together.

photo (9)Finally, the “Thai” version. I used peanut sauce as a base, then added chopped garlic, ginger, and cilantro topped with slices of tomato and onion. No cheese on this one – it just seemed too weird.

photo (7)I separated my dough into four balls and over the course of about twenty minutes stretches and tossed them out into four little flatbreads. I tried to make them round but it just wouldn’t happen. I also tried throwing them up in the air and catching them on my knuckles which worked for a while until I got too cocky and dropped one. I laid them out on a baking sheet dusted with cornmeal to keep them from sticking.

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Once my grill was ready to go, I tossed the flatbread dough on with the cornmeal side up. I wanted to “bake” them on both sides and get grill marks but I also knew I wanted the cornmeal side to be on the bottom once they were done.

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I let them bake for a few minutes on the non-cornmeal side, then flipped them….

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…added the toppings…

photo (2)and let everything get hot and melty with the lid closed for a few more minutes. One of the tomatoes ended up being sacrificed to the BBQ gods. Bummer.

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Grilled Flatbread Pizza

Here they are in all their glory. The gourmet version was definitely my favorite, but my husband preferred the traditional ones (as I had predicted). The Thai version was also totally delicious, even though I had worried that it would be dry without any cheese on it. It was getting pretty dark by the time they were done so the pictures aren’t what they could be.

Here’s the recipe for the dough – everything else is just personal preference. Try topping with a few different types of cheese, or throw some pineapple chunks on with some ham. Get creative! Use up whatever you have in your fridge.

Grilled Flatbread Pizza Dough:

Makes: 8 personal-size pizzas (I saved half in the freezer)

Ingredients:

  • 3 1/2 to 4 cups bread flour (you can use all-purpose if it is all you have)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 package instant active dry yeast (2 heaping teaspoons if you have the kind in a jar)
  • 2 Tablespoons oil (I use olive oil)
  • 1 3/4 cups warm water

Directions:

  1. In a the bowl of a stand mixer, combine  flour, salt, and yeast with the paddle attachment on low.  Drizzle in the oil and warm water until the dry ingredients are moistened.
  2. Switch to the dough hook and knead on medium, adding in additional bread flour until the dough forms a ball. Knead for 3-5 minutes, adding in more flour as needed to make a fairly stiff dough. Remove from the mixer bowl and transfer to a greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled in size (1-2 hours).
  3. Dump dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide in half. If you plan on freezing half of it, now is the time. With the remaining half of the dough, divide into four equal portions.
  4. Stretch each piece into a rustic flatbread and transfer to a cornmeal-coated baking sheet.
  5. Turn your grill to high and placed dough directly onto grill.
  6. Close the lid and cook until bottoms are turning brown, 1-3 minutes. Move them around if necessary to ensure even cooking. Take the crusts off the grill and put them back on the baking sheet, grilled side up.I tried to put the ingredients directly on to the flatbreads and nearly burned my hand off. Spread grilled side with sauce, cheese, toppings, and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
  7. Return to grill, close lid, and cook an additional 2-4 minutes, or until turning brown.

Recipe adapted from the Money Saving Mom.

Easy Farmhouse Fruit Cobbler

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Easy Farmhouse Fruit Cobbler

I’ve been making this recipe for years and it is my favorite way to make cobbler. When I have cobbler I like the topping to be rich and buttery, more like a yellow cake than a biscuit or crumbly topping. I’ve made this with fresh apples, peaches, nectarines, strawberries (sometimes with rhubarb), and even with a bag of mixed frozen berries from my freezer. The recipe is very forgiving and easy to adjust if you want to double it or halve it. I’ve baked it in rectangular Pyrex as well as in a pie dish (I halved the recipe), and both have come out nicely.

Fresh Farmhouse Fruit Cobbler

Fresh Farmhouse Fruit Cobbler

I just made a Strawberry-Rhubarb version of this cobbler last weekend for our really good friends who came over for dinner, dessert, and croquet. When I was a kid we had a garden in the backyard and we always grew rhubarb. My Mom made the best Strawberry-Rhubarb pies for us in the summer (when my sisters and I didn’t sneak out to the garden to eat all of the rhubarb raw). Anytime I have a Strawberry-Rhubarb dessert it just takes me back to sitting with my three sisters in our farmhouse kitchen, impatiently waiting for dessert while the smell of the pie filled the room.

Pies are serious business in my family, especially at Thanksgiving. My Aunt Jackie was always responsible to bring the pies, and she never forgot to bring a Pumpkin, an Apple, and a Pecan pie for our big dinners.

My Mom & Grandma - bakers, extraordinaire.

My Mom & Grandma – bakers, extraordinaire.

The extent of my pie-making abilities include making a butter and graham cracker crust and filling it with microwaved chocolate instant pudding. Don’t tell anyone, but I’ve never even tried to make a pie crust! I did just buy a pastry blender off Amazon the other day, so I feel like that is a step in the right direction.

As pies are not my particular forte, I like to stick to this easy and super scrumptious cobbler.

Here’s the basic recipe:

Makes: 10 servings

Ingredients:

[for the base]

  • 1/2 cup butter (unsalted if you have it)

[for the fruit filling]

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 4 cups fresh fruit (firm fruits work best, like peaches, apples, strawberries)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice (or orange juice)
  • Ground cinnamon
  • Vanilla (either the caviar from one half of a vanilla bean, or 1 tsp. extract)*

[for the cobbler topping]

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup flour (all-purpose is fine)
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 cup milk (whole works best, but I’ve made it with non-fat with no issues)

*I’ve also experimented with other extracts, such as almond or orange extract, with happy results)

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Make the Base: Melt the half cup of butter in the microwave and pour into a 13×9″ glass baking dish.
  3. Make the Filling: Bring the cup of sugar,  fresh  fruit, and lemon juice to a boil over high heat, stirring constantly. Reduce to low and add cinnamon and vanilla extract.
  4. Meanwhile, combine 1 cup sugar, 1 cup flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Add the milk slowly and stir until the ingredients just come together and are moistened. This makes a batter, not a dough, so it will be very runny.
  5. Pour the mixed batter directly on top of the melted butter in your baking pan. Do not stir it! You want to butter to come up around the edges and keep the dish from sticking.
  6. Pour your fruit mixture directly on top of the batter in your baking pan. Do not stir it! The batter will bake up in between your chunks of fruit and it will be delicious.
  7. Bake in your preheated oven for 40-45 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm and with whipped cream or a splash of half-and-half.

Nutrition (1/10th of recipe):

324 calories, 10 g. fat, 3 g. protein, 58 g. carbs, 2 g. fiber. WW PointsPlus: 9

What were your favorite desserts growing up? Do you have a version that you still make, or that you make for your own kids now?

Classic Rosemary Focaccia

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Last weekend we got invited to a last minute birthday party and were asked to bring something healthy to eat. I hemmed and hawed over some appetizer recipes I had but finally got too lazy to do any actual work and decided on my go-to Focaccia recipe.

Focaccia

This recipe couldn’t be easier. Everything goes into the mixer and the dough hook does the work for you. As long as you have a little time to kill (it takes an hour and a half to rise), it requires very little work at all.

As I was feeling so incredibly lazy about making this bread, I left my mixer unattended while it was kneading for five minutes and the whole thing just hopped itself off my counter and onto the floor. I was in the living room, where I may or may not have been drinking a casual Sunday afternoon beer, when I heard the crash.

I ran into the kitchen shrieking “Oh, no! Oh, no! Oh, no!” with the husband following at my heels. I knelt to the ground where my beautiful green Kitchenaid mixer lay completely upside down and turned to the husband to scream “Get out of here! You don’t need to see this!”

I cradled the mixer in my arms and returned it to the counter. The dough had remained entirely in the bowl and the mixer didn’t have a scratch on it. I turned it back on and it began to knead again like nothing had happened. Thank you, Kitchenaid, for making a product that even I can use and abuse without fear.

The husband still gives me a hard time for reacting the way I did (“It was like you let a baby roll off the bed or something.”).

The moral of the story is make sure your mixer has at least a few feet of space to hop around on before you abandon it to do your hard work while you go have a beer (or two).

Here’s the recipe:

Makes: One Loaf

Ingredients:

  • 1 package of active dry yeast (about two heaping teaspoons if you have the kind in a jar)
  • 4 1/2 cups flour (all-purpose is fine, bread flour is better)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil plus an extra 3 Tbsp. for topping
  • 2 tsp. table salt
  • 1 tsp. coarse sea salt
  • 1 2/3 cups warm water
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh herbs (rosemary is perfect for this recipe, but you could also try oregano or thyme). If you want to use dry herbs (because you’re lazy), stick with just 1 tsp. for the dough.

Directions:

  1. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water for about 5 minutes, until it becomes cloudy and bubble.
  2. Mix the flour, table salt, garlic powder, and fresh or dry herbs in the bowl of a mixer with the paddle attachment.
  3.  With the mixer running on low, pour in the yeast mixture and olive oil until the dough becomes formed and sticky.
  4. Switch over to the dough hook, and knead on medium to high for about 5 minutes. This is the part where your mixer will jump around on your kitchen counter so proceed with caution.
  5. Toss a little extra flour around the edges of the bowl and knead for another 5 minutes on low.
  6. Remove the dough from the mixer bowl and transfer to large bowl that has been oiled. Let it hang out there for about an hour and half until it has doubled in size.
  7. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit when the dough has about 15 minutes left to rise.
  8. Once the dough has fully risen, gently dump it out onto a baking sheet that you’ve lined with parchment paper and shape it into a flat, rounded, loaf.
  9. Poke the heck out of it with your fingers to make the little indentations, then drizzle the extra olive oil over the top, brush it to distribute evenly,  and finish it with coarse sea salt.
  10. Bake for about 30 minutes until golden brown. Give it about 30 minutes to rest before you cut into it or it will go stale very quickly.
  11. NOTE: Don’t try serving this without olive oil and vinegar for dipping. That’s just not cool.

Recipe adapted from A Chow Life.

 

Nutrition (1/12th of the recipe):

213 calories, 5 g. fat, 5 g. protein, 36 g. carbs, 1.5 g. fiber. WW PointsPlus: 6