Bread on the Barbecue Frozen dough can take the heat of the grill and come out on top

August 03, 1994|By Cathy Thomas | Cathy Thomas,Orange County Register

It's no secret. I frequently use store-bought frozen bread dough in my recipes.

Why not? It gives the impression that I've spent a lot of time in the kitchen -- creating dishes that look labor-intensive but really aren't. Besides, "fresh" bread dough tastes and smells terrific.

So three years ago, when I spotted the story in Sunset magazine about grilled breads that used flattened disks of prepared bread dough, I fired up the barbecue and gave the concept a culinary whirl.

The results were received with unanimous approval. Mountains of rustic grilled bread, hot off the grill and flavored with a variety of simple toppings, were gobbled as fast as I could produce them. The yard filled with the scent of freshly baked bread combined with fresh herbs and a little garlic. It wasn't long before family and guests were fashioning signature pizza-style breads with their own toppings.

Grilled bread has since become a part of our family's summer gastronomic tradition.

It's easy. One-pound loaves of defrosted dough are cut into 4 pieces and each piece is rolled into a 5-inch circle. The circles are brushed with olive oil and inverted onto large squares of aluminum foil. The tops then are brushed with olive oil, and the rounds pushed into 8-inch disks. Finely minced fresh rosemary or thyme can be added and pressed into the dough, if desired. The disks are inverted onto a medium grill and cooked about 4 minutes or until golden brown.

Turn the bread onto a baking sheet, with the cooked side up, and add the desired toppings. Return the bread to the grill and cook with the lid closed about 4 minutes. Barbecues seem to cook differently, so cooking times can vary greatly.

Most importantly, use medium heat. A simple test: If you can keep your hand just above grill level for 4 to 5 seconds, it's an indication that the heat is medium. (If it's too hot, the bread will scorch before it cooks properly.)

The variety of toppings you can use to produce pizza-style grilled breads seems endless. Fillings can be as simple as a layer of store-bought pesto sauce, some grated mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced tomatoes (alternating red and yellow tomatoes looks pretty) and minced fresh thyme or basil. Or sprinkle on a little grated mozzarella, crumbled goat cheese and Parmesan cheese; arrange thin slivers of sun-dried (oil-packed) tomatoes and minced thyme on top.

Toppings are limited to ingredients that can cook to the desired degree of doneness in about 4 minutes. Vegetables, such as asparagus, broccoli, zucchini and mushrooms are best cooked tender-crisp and drained well before using. These breads are a great way to use leftover vegetables, but make sure they are not overcooked to begin with. Meat, poultry or sausage must be fully cooked before it is placed on the bread.

Thinly sliced (or finely diced or minced) and used sparingly, onions, bell peppers, green onions, garlic and sliced tomatoes work well raw; drizzle with a little olive oil to give them a rich flavor.

Or, rather than using these warm rounds with a pizza-style topping, serve them as a simple warm bread by spreading them with a flavored butter. Firecracker Red Bell Pepper Butter, made processing roasted red bell peppers with butter, brown sugar and cayenne pepper, makes a tangy spread.

*

Here is Sunset Magazine's master recipe for making grilled bread. A few suggestions for topping combinations follow, as well as a recipe for Firecracker Butter.

Grilled Bread

Makes 4 servings

1 (1-pound) loaf thawed frozen bread dough, white or wheat

olive oil

4 pieces of aluminum foil, about 10-by-12-inches

Heat barbecue. Heat to medium. Adjust rack to a position 4 to 6 inches above heat.

Divide bread dough into 4 pieces. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out 1 piece of dough into a 5- to 6-inch circle. Brush with olive oil and place, oiled-side-down, on a 10-by-12-inch piece of aluminum foil. Place on a baking sheet and brush with olive oil. Push out dough, using clean hands, into a 7- to 8-inch circle. Repeat with remaining dough.

Invert onto grill and peel off the aluminum foil. Place remaining rounds of dough, leaving 1 to 2 inches between the rounds. Cook until golden brown on one side, 2 to 4 minutes. With a wide spatula, transfer bread rounds to baking sheets, browned side up. Cover with topping(s) of choice; return to grill. Cover barbecue with lid and cook until toppings are hot and bottom of bread is crisp and flecked with brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from grill.

Per serving: 391 calories; 19g fat; 4g saturated fat; 47g carbohydrates; 7g protein; 1,255mg sodium; 22mg calcium; 2.7mg iron.

Toppings

* Tomato, Basil Pesto and Mozzarella Topping: Cook 1 side of bread dough (following recipe above). Invert and spread scant 1 teaspoon pesto sauce over cooked side of bread. Top

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