Figs are in my top favorite fruits of all time. Here in Virginia, July & August bring a wave of fresh figs, and the fig trees are heavily laden with these juicy and sweet ripe fruits. My family’s home in Virginia Beach has about a dozen huge fig trees, and if I’m visiting at just the right time, I can snag some baskets and climb up into the shady limbs, dropping one after another into the baskets while snacking on just as many in the process. The harvesting time kind of sneaks up on me…one day they’re still a little green and the very next morning the squirrels have literally taken a single bite out of every slightly ripened fig on the tree. We keep a whether eye out, and pick at just the right moment – usually multiple times a week and even sometimes twice a day. As I mentioned in a previous posts, everything feels like it ripens at once in the summer months, so I often have a LOT of these little fruits on hand…not that I’m complaining. Figs are absolute heaven on a hot summer day.
Fig & Ricotta Flatbread
3 3/4 cup bread flour
2 teaspoons sea salt
1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
2 teaspoons honey
1.5 teaspoons olive oil
3 cups room temperature water
1.5 cups best quality ricotta cheese (drained to remove excess water)
Add the dry ingredients in a large bowl and stir together with a wooden spoon. While stirring, very slowly add the 3 cups of water, honey and olive oil and stir until well mixed. Then use your hands to mix gently, making sure the water and flour mixture is well incorporated. Form the dough into a large ball and transfer to a clean, medium bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let sit for about 12-18 hours (or overnight) on the counter in a draft free area. The longer it can rise, the more flavorful the dough will be.
Remove from the bowl and dust a surface lightly with flour. Divide the dough into 3 equal portions. Working with one portion at a time, form into a rectangle, then fold together until a small ball is formed. Set each of the three balls aside on a lightly floured work surface and let rise one more hour.
*At this point, you can wrap these dough balls in plastic wrap and store for up to three days, chilled.
To make the flatbread: Preheat your grill to it's hottest setting (about 500F) and place a pizza stone on the grill. Take 1 dough ball and on a slightly floured surface, form into a 10-12 inch rectangle. Make sure it is not sticky at all, and add a bit more flour if needed. Place the dough on the pizza stone and let bake for about 5 minutes, until fully risen and very slightly browned. Remove from the pizza stone. Let cool about 10 minutes.
Spread 1 to 1.5 cups of best quality ricotta cheese (drained to move excess water) on the flatbread, then cover with sliced figs. Drizzle with about 2 tbsp local honey and 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar. Add fresh herbs such as thyme, sage, rosemary or oregano to taste.
You'll notice you have two dough balls left! You can make some quick grilled pizzas with these for dinner with some tomato sauce, basil, fresh mozzarella and crushed red pepper!