These days, cutting back on carbs is such a thing.
In that regard, I am decidedly unhip.
Because I love bread, pasta and rice — and would never give them up unless I absolutely was forced to do so.
After all, few things are as blissful as tearing into a rustic slab of warm bread drizzled with good olive oil.
That’s why “Meyer Lemon & Thyme Hearth Bread” caught my eye.
It’s from the new cookbook, “Citrus: Sweet and Savory Sun-Kissed Recipes” (Ten Speed Press) by Valerie Aikman-Smith and Victoria Pearson, of which I received a review copy.
Aikman-Smith is a former cook at Greens restaurant in San Francisco, and Pearson is a food photographer, whose images have graced Food & Wine and Martha Stewart Living magazines.
The book is all about what to make with citrus, which is at its prime in winter. Enjoy everything from “Rosemary Lemonade” and “Tropical Granola with Candied Lime” to “Grilled Sardines with Orange Polenta” and “Pomelo & Basil Granita.”
With a dwarf Meyer lemon tree in my yard, I’m always looking for ways to use its fragrant fruit, which is a cross between a regular lemon and a mandarin, rendering it less sharp tasting. In this recipe, the lemons get sliced thinly and fanned over the top of the bread.
The dough comes together easily in a food processor. The dough will get warm as it processes for about 4 minutes in the machine, so don’t worry when that happens.
The recipe calls for four lemons, but depending upon their size, you may need fewer. I ended up using only two. The recipe also calls for lemon thyme. I used the regular thyme that grows in a little pot in my yard. The recipe also states to sprinkle the bread generously with sea salt before baking. You should definitely do this because the bread will taste a little flat without it.
I like the bread a little toasty on top with the lemons slightly burnished and caramelized, so after baking it for the specified time, I ran it under the broiler for a minute or two. But if you don’t like it crisp on top, you don’t have to do that.
It’s a focaccia-like bread that’s crisp on the bottom and edges, and fluffy inside. Getting a little lemon in each bite is like sunshine in your mouth. It’s even better with a little olive oil drizzled over the top.
It may not be cool to love carbs nowadays. But I won’t sweat it.
Meyer Lemon & Thyme Hearth Bread
(Serves 6 to 8)
1 cup warm water (about 110 degrees)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 to 4 Meyer lemons, thinly sliced
1 small bunch lemon thyme or regular thyme
Coarse sea salt, for sprinkling
Extra-virgin olive oil, for finishing
Pour the water into a measuring jug, stir in the oil, and sprinkle the yeast over the top. Let stand for about 5 minutes until frothy.
Place the flour and salt in a food processor and pulse until mixed. Give the yeast-water mixture a stir. Then, with the motor running, add the yeast mixture to the flour and process for about 4 minutes, until the dough comes together and forms a ball. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl and turn to coat on all sides. Cover with plastic wrap, set aside in a warm place, and let the dough rise for about 1 1/2 hours, until it doubles in size.
Oil a 9-by-13-inch sheet pan. Transfer the dough to the center of the prepared sheet pan, punching it down to deflate it. The, using your fingers, press and stretch the dough out evenly in the pan, extending it to the edges. Using your fingertips, dimple the entire surface of the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Uncover the dough, arrange the lemon slices on top and scatter with the lemon thyme. Sprinkle generously with the coarse sea salt.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown. If you like it even more caramelized on the top, stick it under the broiler for a minute or two. Serve warm.
Adapted From “Citrus” by Valerie Aikman-Smith and Victoria Pearson
More Meyer Lemon Deliciousness: Saveur’s Best Damn Meyer Lemon Cake
And: Sunset’s Meyer Lemon Cake
And: Fettuccine with Meyer Lemon Cream
And: Fennel and Meyer Lemon Relish
And: Microwave-Made Meyer Lemon-Orange Marmalade with Thyme
And: Meyer Lemon and Vanilla Bean Marmalade