Monday, 8 December 2014

Ladenia: dough, sun-kissed tomatoes, onions and olive oil

Ladenia is a local treat from Kimolos, a small island next to Milos in the Cyclades. Although travelers usually refer to it as the local equivalent to tomato and onion pizza, Ladenia is so much more than that!

Ingredients are indeed as simple as: dough, sun-kissed tomatoes, onions and olive oil. However, the secret is in the making of it.

800g ripe cherry tomatoes, halved
2 onions, sliced
1 teaspoon dried greek oregano
4 sprigs thyme, leaves
6 tablespoons olive oil
freshly ground black pepper

175ml water
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1/4 teaspoon caster sugar
1 teaspoon olive oil, plus 4 tablespoons for greasing
250g strong white flour, plus more to dust
3/4 teaspoon fine salt

Preheat the oven to 200ºC.

Start with the topping. Toss together the cherry tomatoes, onions, Greek oregano, thyme and 4 tablespoons of the olive oil. Season and place in a single layer on a baking tray. Cook in the oven for 15–20 minutes, until the onions are golden and the tomatoes are beginning to brown and soften.
Make the dough: mix the water, yeast and sugar together in a jug and leave to stand for 10 minutes; the yeast will get to work and the liquid will develop a foamy head. Whisk in the 1 teaspoon of olive oil.

Put the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl, add the yeast mixture and mix thoroughly; the dough will be fairly sticky at this stage. On a floured surface, start to knead the dough, using floured hands and knuckles to stretch the dough out before folding it back on itself. (If it is really too sticky to do this, add a tablespoon or two more flour to the mix.) Knead for 10 minutes, by which time the dough will be smooth and pliable. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover and leave in a warm place for about an hour or until doubled in size. (Depending on the temperature, it may take longer to double in size. You can tell when it has finished rising as the dough will dent rather than spring back when you press it.)

Once the dough has risen, knock it back: use your hands to squash it back to roughly its original size.
Oil two 20 cm round baking trays with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, or oil one large baking tray with 4 tablespoons of oil. Divide the dough into two. Stretch and push each piece out either to fill a 20 cm round baking tray, or to form one of two 20 cm circles for the large baking tray. Using your fingertips, gently dimple the surface of the dough. Set aside for 15 minutes to rise again.

Preheat the oven to 200ºC once more.

When ready to cook, divide the tomato and onion evenly over the bases. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of olive oil over each and place them in the oven. Cook for 20 minutes, until the dough has puffed up and is golden brown and the tomatoes are completely cooked. Eat while still warm.


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