You might have already guessed that I’m big on bread. And sure, eating it is fine and dandy, but it’s the actual process of making it that really tickles my toes. There’s a multitude possibilities – sweet, enriched doughs, basic soda breads, damper, a simple white loaf, hardier whole-wheat ones studded with grains or even nuts/seeds, pizza bases, flat breads…And today my friends it’s the flat breads that’ll be stepping into the spotlight. With a shorter rising time than many breads they don’t require nearly as much patience as some of their kin (you only have to leave the dough to rise once). And don’t bother turning the oven on – you won’t be needing it! A frying pan will do the trick, thank you very much.
I’m impartial to breads that are on the whole-wheatier end of the spectrum and have thus created flat breads with a fifty-fifty ratio. However, feel free to sub the whole-wheat flour with plain white if you wish. The result will be a slightly softer, and obviously whiter (yeah we’re going to be a tad obnoxious today), flat bread. We’ll start with some basic bread mixology: whisk together your flours, yeast and and salt in a large bowl. A glass or ceramic bowl please…with the scientific reasoning being for that rustic vibe. Tis important folks. Combine the olive oil and warm water (you should be able to put your finger in it and it not feel cold or hot, just an odd kind of wet neutral) in a small jug. Pour this in a steady stream into the dry ingredients, mixing all the while with a butter knife. Lightly flour your hands and work the dough in the bowl for a few moments to just bring it together (as in there’s not little straggly bits hanging around in the bottom of the bowl. Transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Work those arms, baby! You want a dough that errs on the stickier side of things, so don’t be tempted to add more flour. Kneading will do the trick, honestly. Pop in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a cloth/tea towel and leave in a warm place until doubled in size. A warm day is ideal for making bread!
After punching the dough down to expel the air, we’re going to cut it into quarters and roll each piece out into a 3mm thick circle. Ensure you do have a rolling pin first…otherwise it’ll be panic stations. Not talking from experience or anything. Pop a frying pan over a high heat and leave until it’s almost smoking. Now’s a good time to ensure you’ve got some windows open…don’t want that pesky smoke alarm going off. Gently place a rolled out circle of dough into the pan and cook for 2 minutes either side, until puffed up and some parts are beginning to blacken/brown. Transfer to a plate, brush with a smidge of olive oil and cover with a cloth to keep warm. Repeat!
Extremely versatile, these flat breads are a superb accompaniment to spicy soups, curries, stews, tagines…any liquidy main-meal substance essentially. They can also be used burrito style or as an impromptu hotdog casing (vegetarian or meat oriented depending on your culinary preferences). Essentially, you’ll find some way to use them! Why, they ain’t half bad smeared in butter and scoffed down, hot from the pan. Elegant or not, it’s your choice, just be sure you make a batch!
Makes 4x 15cm diameter flat breads.
125g strong bakers flour
125g whole-wheat flour (or plain white, if you wish)
½ tsp dried instant yeast
¾ tsp sea salt
1 ½ tsp olive oil
150ml warm water – think blood temperature
Extra flour for rolling
Extra olive oil for brushing (optional)
Whisk together the flours, yeast and salt in a large bowl until well combined.
Combine the olive oil and warm water in a small jug then tip into the flour mixture. Use a fork or butter knife to mix the liquids into the dry. Flour your hands lightly and tip the dough onto a floured surface. Knead for about five minutes or until the dough has come together and forms a smooth ball. Don’t be tempted to add more flour – it should be quite a sticky dough.
Tranfer dough to a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a tea towel. Place in a warm spot for about 90 minutes or until doubled in size.
Knock the dough back by punching/poking it with your hands. Divide into 4 pieces and pat into a rough circular shape. On a lightly floured surface roll each ball out to a thickness of about 3 mm and leave to rest for 5 minutes.
Heat a large non-stick frying pan over a high heat until smoking hot. Lever one of the rolled out cirles into the pan and cook for 2 minutes or until puffed up with some parts beginning to blacken. Flip over and cook for a further two minutes.
Brush the cooked flat bread with a little olive oil and wrap in a tea towel to keep warm and moist.
Best served the day made though will keep for 24 hours in an airtight container.
Source: Barely adapted from River Cottage Veg Everyday.