Before wild yeast was discovered in Egypt, thousands of years ago (which lead to the first ever risen breads) all bread was flat. When I first heard this fact I thought it was so cool – the first risen breads were basically sourdough loaves, using wild yeast as the rising agent; just imagine the first time someone ever saw their bread dough rise?!
Anyway, back to the flatbreads…basically, all you need to make flatbread is flour and water, and heat or fire of some sort. Joining blogworld has taught me just how simply flatbreads can be made, which is why they are now a staple in my cooking armoury. Blogworld has also introduced me to all the wonderful ways that flatbreads can be pimped! Luckily my son is a huge bread lover and is happy to eat my creations as I play around with different versions 🙂
And as so many flatbreads go through up my kitchen I thought I’d share some of my recent creations today…
Every time I feed my sourdough starter to make a loaf of sourdough bread for my boy, I use whatever bubbly starter is leftover by throwing it in with whatever flour takes my fancy (the bread above is 100% spelt flour), add a bit of salt, a splash of water, and bring together a dough. I tend to determine how the dough feels by hand, adding extra water if necessary to make a firm, but not sloppy, dough. I bring this together then leave it to initialise for an hour, before folding and turning the dough to create a lovely soft smooth dough, then put it in the fridge until I decide to use it. This can be overnight or for several days. When I’m ready to use it, I bring it from the fridge to come to room temperature and prove for a few more hours.
To cook, I take handfuls of the dough, form them into some kind of round shape (I’ve never managed perfect rounds, let’s call them rustic!) and place them on a floured surface to rest.
I heat a pan over a medium heat, and place the flatbreads in the pan, no oil required. After a few minutes, and when the bottom of the breads look cooked I turn it over. Sometimes they bubble up, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes I spray them with olive oil, sometimes I don’t. Sometimes they’re a bit thicker, as above, sometimes they’re thinner, like the ones below.
And then if Ben doesn’t eat them all, I sometimes pile different toppings onto the odd one for myself. The bread above is topped with leftover shakshuka sauce, Turkish cheese and grated cheddar. The bread below is spread with my coriander stalk and toasted seeds pesto and topped with feta, avocado and sriracha.
The flatbreads on this plate, and below, were truly experimental; I was playing with some fava bean (dried broad bean) flour that I’ve had for a while and this was the outcome. Basically, these are gluten free breads, packed full of the goodness from the beans.
The dough for these was the fava bean flour and plain yoghurt only; the fava bean flour is quite dry, so I needed to feel my way as I added the yoghurt. I pan cooked them as above, this time with some additional spray olive oil.
The breads were lovely and soft when first cooked, and they became quite hard the next day, but after a stint in the toaster, they were lovely and soft again, and even tastier than the first day.
And these beauties could be called naan breads I guess; these are made with atta (whole wheat/chapati) flour, sourdough starter, olive oil, yoghurt and water. It was the first time I’ve used atta flour with sourdough starter and it worked really well, again these were created with a dough thrown together by feel and following the same loose method as above. These were again lovely when first made, heated in the toaster the next day, and I also froze some, and they defrosted well.
Flatbreads don’t necessarily need yeast, they can all be made without it; or with a sprinkle of fresh yeast or dried yeast in place of the sourdough starter if you fancy. I just happen to have been experimenting with sourdough starter recently, and it adds a lovely flavour. You could also easily add herbs, spices, garlic, cheese, seeds…whatever you fancy to the dough, it’s all up to you!
I hope you like my ideas, and that everyone at this week’s Fiesta Friday agrees 🙂