Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Red Pepper Coques and A Different Topping

There are times when I can just look at a recipe and know that the resulting food will be wonderful. This was one of those. Karen of Karen's Kitchen Stories is our Kitchen of the Month for May for the busy Bread Baking Babes. She chose Red Pepper Coques from "Bread Illustrated from America's Test Kitchen. According to the recipe, Coques are the Catalan version of the thin and crunchy tapas dish that can be found in bars in the Mediterranean region of Spain, including Barcelona."

This has been a busy month for me, starting with the final day of my visit to Denver and continuing on with massive catch-up in the garden, especially with weeding. The soil and overnight temperatures finally warmed up enough for planting, too, so there are now tomato plants, bean seedlings, cucumber seedlings, and lots of kinds of flower seedlings getting bigger. The zucchini I planted in April are getting bigger and so is the one from a neighbor...the other one was eaten by snails. I still have planting and weeding to do, but now its just a few of each.

Fitting in a bread that needs to start at least the day before it will be eaten was a bit of a challenge, but I'm glad I did. This recipe makes 4 coques, which are long ovals of flatbread, topped with a wonderful, tangy topping of roasted red pepper, caramelized onions and pine nuts (among other things). I decided that since there are only two of us enjoying these that I would make two at a time and used two different toppings on the two different bakes.

The first night I used the red pepper topping. The dough was difficult to make flat enough since it just wanted to spring back into a smaller shape. I eventually shaped the coques using gravity in a similar way to how I shape pizza dough. This left a thicker ridge around the edges, but that just helped keep the topping in the center, so no harm done. I love the topping, so do try it. The red peppers and yellow onions and pine nuts go really well together. Don't substitute on the sherry vinegar, either. It really makes the dish!

The second night I used a topping that I found in the food section of our local paper. It was meant to go on crostini, but went well on the coques, too. It is a combination of a homemade fig jam, caramelized red onions, and some soft cheese. I used Kite Hill fresh cheese mixed with a bit of soy milk in place of ricotta, but I'm sure that fresh ricotta would be lovely. I topped it with chopped walnuts since I had enjoyed the pine nuts topping the red pepper mixture the previous night. The experience was completely different, but I enjoyed this combination, too. The sweetness of the figs and onions was offset a bit by the balsamic vinegar and slight bitterness of the walnuts.

This recipe is going into the 'keep' file and will be used when I want appetizers for a party or pot luck. Except for the baking, the components can be made ahead, too, which is wonderful.

Do visit the other Bread Baking Babes sites to see their takes on this delightful bread. Bake it yourself and become a Buddy by sending Karen an email with your URL, photo and experience with making the bread. Deadline is May 29th. You'll be glad you did.

from Bread Illustrated from America's Test Kitchen

468 grams (16 1/2 ounces/3 cups) bread flour
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
10 2/3 ounces (1 1/3 cups) ice water
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons table or fine sea salt

Red Pepper Topping
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 large onions, peeled, halved, and thinly sliced
2 cups jarred roasted sliced red peppers
3 tablespoons sugar
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 bay leaves
3 tablespoons sherry vinegar
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the flour, sugar, and yeast about 5 times. 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. Remove the dough from the the processor, and knead by hand for a few seconds, and form it into a ball. Place it into an oiled bowl, cover, and refrigerate for at least 24 hours, and up to 3 days. 

Red Pepper Topping
Heat three tablespoons of the olive oil in a 12 inch non stick frying pan over medium heat. Add the onions, red peppers, sugar, garlic, salt, pepper flakes, and bay leaves. Cover the pan and cook for 10 minutes over medium low. 

Remove the lid and continue to cook, stirring regularly, for another 10 to 15 minutes, until the onions are golden brown. Remove the pan from the heat and discard the bay leaves. Transfer the mixture to a heatproof bowl and stir in the vinegar. Cool completely before using. You can make the mixture in advance and refrigerate overnight. 

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, and cover with oiled plastic wrap. Let rest for an hour. 

Place oven racks in the upper and lower third positions and preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. 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 a 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. Brush each oblong piece of dough with the rest of the olive oil. 

Bake the dough for 8 minutes, switching the pans at the four minute mark. 

Remove the pans from the oven, and spread them with the red pepper and onion mixture. Sprinkle with the pine nuts. (To make the Fig and Caramelized Onion Coques, use the topping below at this point instead of the red pepper and onion mixture. Top with the walnuts instead of the pine nuts.) Place the baking sheets back into the oven, and bake for 16 minutes, switching and rotating the pans at the 8 minute mark. Continue to bake until the flatbreads are golden and crispy.

To Make the Coques:
Remove the pans from the oven and let cool on the pans for about 5 minutes. Sprinkle with the parsley, and transfer to a cutting board to slice and serve. 

Fig and Caramelized Onion Topping for Coques
adapted from Ramekins Culinary School recipe
1/4 cup dried Black Mission figs (stemmed and chopped into 1/-inch dice)- about 4 figs
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons dry red wine
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 small bay leaf
pinch salt
1/2 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon butter or margarine
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 medium red onion (peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice)
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 cup fresh ricotta cheese or Kite Hill fresh almond cheese+ 1 tablespoon soy creamer
2 tablespoons finely chopped walnuts.

Place the figs in a small saucepan. Add the red wine, sugar, bay leaf and salt. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Reduce the heat to simmer and simmer until the figs are tender and the liquid is syrupy, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the vinegar and cook and additional minute. Removed from the heat and let cool.

Melt the butter or margarine and stir in the olive oil. Over medium-high heat sauté the onion until it is beginning to soften and brown, about 5 minutes.

Reduce the heat to low and add the vinegar and sugar. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Stir until the vinegar has almost evaporated, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and let cool.

If using this topping for the coques, drain the ricotta, if using, in a strainer lined with a coffee filter or cheesecloth. Transfer to a small bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste. If using the Kite Hill nut cheese, place in a small bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Once the coques have baked for 8 minutes, removed from the oven, leaving the oven on, and spread the two coques with the ricotta or almond cheese mixture, dividing evenly.

Top with the onions, dividing evenly and spreading to cover each coque, then top with the figs, dividing evenly and spread to cover each cocque. Sprinkle one tablespoon finely chopped walnuts over each coque and bake an additional 10-16 minutes, or until coque is deep golden brown.


  1. Ooooh, I love what you did with the second set of flatbreads! I'm so happy you like this recipe!

  2. Edwina1:47 PM

    Oh my gosh... it makes me hungry just looking at your pictures. Too bad I can't reach in and take a bite. ;>)

  3. Oh of course, you had to remind me, didn't you. I'll get to the weeding as soon as I've finished gazing at various versions of BBB Red Pepper Coques....

    I clearly should make these again, so I can try the pine nuts with the red peppers. Not to mention that I'll need to get some fig jam too, because its combination of walnuts and onions sounds fantastic.

  4. Your toppings look amazing! Love the ideas.

  5. Your coques look soooo good! I definitely need to try the fig and caramelized onion topping with ricotta and walnuts. Oh yes! Lovely!