Crackly and Chewy Grilled Flatbreads with Herbed Cheese Spread and Tomatoes


Here the starter gives the flatbreads a crackly texture that's then burnished on the grill. Top and finish like a pizza with herbed cheese spread and fresh tomatoes.

Grilled Flatbreads
Photo: Victor Protasio
Active Time:
55 mins
Total Time:
3 hrs 15 mins

What turns a flatbread made with just four ingredients (flour, yeast, salt, and water) from everyday to extraordinary is the starter — a yeast, flour, and water base that ferments overnight and gives the bread its distinct flavor and chew. Tear into pieces for dipping.

The triple-cheese, triple-herb spread is reminiscent of a Boursin and melts beautifully into toast or warm, charred flatbreads. We love the fruity heat that dried pequin chiles (available at bring to this recipe, but you can substitute crushed red pepper or omit them entirely.


Flatbread starter

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (about 6 3/8 ounces)

  • Pinch of instant or quick-rising yeast

  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons water

Flatbread dough

  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (about 19 1/8 ounces)

  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoon instant or quick-rising yeast

  • 1 3/4 cups warm water

  • All-purpose flour, rice flour, or semolina flour, for dusting

Herbed Cheese Spread

  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed

  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

  • Pinch of crumbled dried pequin chile or crushed red pepper (optional)

  • 8 ounces mascarpone cheese

  • 8 ounces goat cheese

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

  • 1 tablespoon fresh marjoram leaves

  • 1 heaping teaspoon fresh tarragon leaves

  • Freshly ground black pepper


Prepare the flatbread starter

  1. Combine flour and yeast in a medium bowl with your fingers. Make a well in center, and add water. Blend by fingers until water is fully incorporated and there are no lumps (it should be the consistency of a thick pancake batter). Cover and let stand at room temperature until mixture is slightly bubbly and slightly risen, 12 to 18 hours.

Prepare the flatbread dough

  1. Combine flour, salt, and yeast in bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer with your fingers. Make a well in center; add Flatbread Starter and warm water. Using dough hook attachment, beat on low speed until ingredients are fully incorporated and dough starts to come together (the dough will be very wet), 4 to 5 minutes. Let stand at room temperature 15 minutes.

  2. Using a bowl scraper or spatula, turn dough out onto a heavily floured surface. Gently press dough out until slightly flattened. Starting with the side closest to you, fold dough over about two-thirds of the way to the opposite side, pressing gently. Then fold the side furthest away from you over about two-thirds of the way to the side closest to you, pressing gently. Rotate dough piece 90º, and repeat folding procedure with the 2 unfolded sides. Turn dough seam side down, and shape into a smooth ball.

  3. Return dough to mixer bowl, smooth side up, and let stand 15 minutes.

  4. Turn dough out onto a heavily floured surface, and repeat Step 3. (The dough should now be elastic and smooth.) Return to bowl, smooth side up; cover and let stand until doubled in size, about 2 hours.

Make the flatbreads

  1. Divide Flatbread Dough into 8 equal pieces, about 6 1/8 oz. each. Shape each piece into a ball. Cover with a clean dish towel, and let stand at room temperature 15 minutes.

  2. Meanwhile, preheat a grill to high (450°F to 500°F). Using tongs, carefully wipe grill grates with a lightly oiled paper towel. Using a grill brush, scrape grates clean, then wipe with an oiled paper towel once more.

  3. Using your fingertips, press each dough ball into a rectangular shape; stretch each piece into a 6-inch circle. Arrange dough circles on a cutting board or a baking sheet sprinkled with flour. Cover with a clean tea towel, and let stand 20 minutes. (This final proofing builds more air into the dough, creating its chewier, fluffier texture.)

  4. Shape each dough circle into a 10- x 8-inch rectangle. Transfer dough rectangles, in batches, to oiled grill grate, and grill, covered, until lightly charred on bottom, 1 to 2 minutes. (Wipe grill grate with oiled paper towels as needed between batches.) Flip dough rectangles, and grill until bottoms are well marked, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from grill.

Meanwhile, make the spread

  1. Combine garlic, salt, and, if using, chile in bowl of a food processor, and pulse until coarsely ground, about 5 times. Add cream cheese, mascarpone, goat cheese, and olive oil, and process until smooth, about 1 minute. Add chives, marjoram, tarragon, and a few grinds of black pepper, and process until combined.

Make ahead

Store spread in an airtight container in refrigerator up to 2 days. Bring to room temperature before using.

Related Articles