It is bread making time at the Bread Baking Babes once again. Karen picked Red Pepper Coques for us to make. Coques are the Catalan flat breads that are thin and crunchy flatbreads that can be found across the Mediterranean. They’re similar to flatbreads like the Turkish Lahmacun and French Pissaladiere.
Catalan Coques can be sweet or savoury, open or filled . The sweet ones are generally topped with candied fruits and pine nuts. The savoury Coques are more varied with toppings of vegetables, meats, fish, etc. The name Coques (singular coco, plural coques) is thought to have come from dutch with roots in the in the word “cake”!
In the old days, people who live in Catalan villages did not have ovens in their homes. Breads were more of communal affairs. Peasants would carry produce from their vegetable gardens to the village bakery. The bakers there would use these to make Coques which were share by the peasants.
Coques were popular because they were affordable, easy to carry around and eat on the go, if necessary. They were a good way to use up leftovers too. They could be eaten warm or cold, or even the next day.
The most popular Catalan Coque is the Coca de Escalivada. Here the topping is a preparation of roasted eggplant, red peppers and onions. Sometimes sardines, spinach, or/ and pine nuts are also added.
I came across someone referring to the Coque as a Catalan pizza. This is far from the truth. While I understand the reasoning, Red Pepper Coques iare nothing like pizza. It’s a crisp flatbread topped with a delicious mildly sweet, tangy and spicy savoury mix. Eat it for breakfast, brunch, lunch or whenever you please.
It is quite easy to make. You just need to plan a little ahead because the dough involves a retarded/ slow rise of at least 24 hours. The dough is made with chilled water (now you know that’s no pizza) and refrigerated for 24 hours. Then you let it rise for an hour before you make the Red Pepper Coques.
The original recipe calls for the use of canned red peppers. We don’t get that here. So I roasted my own red peppers. You can do this in the oven or the open flame. I prefer using the flame. They don’t need to be brushed with oil. Wipe the red peppers dry, and roast them on an open flame one at a time. Keep turning them so that the peppers are charred uniformly. Let them cool completely. Peel the skin, trim the top and remove the seeds. Then slice them and use for the topping.
Red Pepper Coques
For the Dough :
- 3 cups all purpose flour or bread flour
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp instant yeast
- 1 1/3 cups chilled ice water
- 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp sea salt
For the Red Pepper Topping :
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 large onions thinly sliced
- 2 large red peppers
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1 tsp minced garlic
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 2 tbsp sherry vinegar
- 1/4 cup pine nuts
- 1 tbsp minced fresh parsley or oregano
For the Dough :
- Pulse the flour, sugar, and yeast a couple of times, in the bowl of the food processor. Turn the processor on, and slowly pour in the ice water and process for about 10 seconds. Let the dough rest for 10 minutes.
- Add the oil and the salt to the dough and process for 30 to 60 seconds, until the dough forms a ball. Add a little more flour of necessary to obtain a soft smooth dough consistency. Remove the dough from the processor, and knead by hand for a few seconds, and shape it into a ball. Place it into an oiled bowl, cover, and refrigerate for at least 24 hours, and up to 3 days.
For the Topping :
- If you’re using fresh red peppers, roast them on the flame or in the oven until the skin is charred. Cool, then peel off the skin. Trim the top, remove the seeds and slice into pieces.
- Heat 3tbsp of the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add the onions, red peppers, sugar, garlic, salt and pepper flakes. Cook till the onions are soft and golden brown.
- Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the vinegar. Cool completely before using. You can make the mixture in advance and refrigerate overnight.
To Make the Coques :
- Deflate the dough and divide it into four equal sized pieces. Shape each piece into a tight ball and place, seam side down on your work surface. Cover with oiled plastic wrap. Let rest for an hour.
- Pre-heat the oven to 250C (500F). Brush two half sheet pans with 2 tablespoons of olive oil each.
- Place one dough ball on your work surface, and roll it out to about 15 inch by 5 inch oval. Place it on the baking sheet, lengthwise. Repeat with the rest of the dough balls, two per baking sheet. If the dough springs back, let it rest for another 10 to 20 minutes, and re-roll. Dock each about 15 times with a fork. This is important or the bread will puff up a lot.
- Brush each oblong piece of dough with the rest of the olive oil. Bake the dough for 8 to 10 minutes till it just starts turning brown.
- Remove the pans from the oven, and spread them with the red pepper and onion mixture. Sprinkle with the pine nuts. Place the baking sheets back into the oven, and bake for about 15 minutes or so, until the flatbreads are golden and crispy.
- Remove the pans from the oven and let cool on the pans for about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with the oregano or parsley, and transfer to a cutting board to slice and serve.
The Bread Baking Babes are –
The Bread Baking Babes (BBB) is a closed group, but you’re most welcome to bake with us as a Bread Baking Buddy. Here’s how it works.
Karen is this month’s Kitchen of the Month. Bake Red Pepper Coques and post it on your blog before the 28th of this month. Make sure you mention the Bread Baking Babes and link to her BBB post in your own post. Then e-mail her with your name and the link to the post, or leave a comment on her blog post with this information. She will do a Buddy round-up for this month on her blog and send you a BBB badge to add to your post on your blog.