Tuesday, March 29, 2011

mushroom pizza on water chestnut flatbreads

This month's Fresh from the Oven challenge (hosted by Helen of Fuss Free Flavours) was to bake something with locally made flour. That proved to be quite a challenge for me, here in Hong Kong. However, after a long hunt, I found this water chestnut flour. How intriguing. What is this stuff?

It turns out water chestnut flour is not really a flour--it's a starch. It's made by boiling the water chestnuts, peeling them, and grinding them into powder. Water chestnut flour makes a great thickener (it's similar to cornstarch). As it turns out, though, it isn't really suitable for yeasted bread as it's gluten free. Water chestnut flour is usually used for dredging fish (and other batter-coated items) for a crispy fried coating.

On the back of the packet there is a recipe for steamed water chestnut cake. (Here is a very similar recipe with added ginger.) But really, most people seem to be using it for a crispy coating on fried things.

(By the way, water chestnuts are not the same as chestnuts (and hence water chestnut flour is not the same as chestnut flour). Chestnuts are the fruit of a tree from the Mediterranean, whereas water chestnuts are the bulb of an aquatic plant from Southern China.)

At any rate, I decided to make flatbread from my water chestnut flour. But since this challenge is not dubbed Fresh from the Skillet, I made the flatbreads into pizza, which were then pulled, bubbling, Fresh from the Oven. Thanks to Helen for the impetus to find a local ingredient and try something new! Check out what others made with their local flours at the group's blog.
Water Chestnut Flatbread Pizzas
makes 8 hand-sized breads

for the flatbread:
2/3 c (85 g) water chestnut flour, ground in a food processor
2/3 c (80 g) whole wheat flour

for the pizza:
meat and vegetable toppings of your choice
Parmesan cheese, grated
olive oil

Mix the flours and 1 c (250 ml) hot water in a bowl. Cover and allow to rest for 20 minutes.
Using extra whole wheat flour on a clean surface, shape the dough into eight balls and roll each out into a flat round.
Heat a heavy skillet until very hot and cook each flatbread for three to four minutes on each side, until golden brown.

Top with your chosen vegetables and cooked meat. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and drizzle with olive oil.
Heat in a very hot oven or under the grill for five minutes, until the cheese is bubbling.


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