Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Fabulous, Flexible Flatbread

Navajo fry bread type of flat bread

I am so excited about this bread! It's so easy and simple anyone can do it. It takes maybe 10 minutes (I'm being very generous here) from beginning to end, it's delicious and dirt cheap. (Well nothing is cheaper than dirt, but almost.)
Flatbread is the most elementary type of bread. It has hardly changed in thousands of years. When people started cultivating grain, flatbread was an obvious solution of how to turn hard grain into edible food. The grain was pounded into flour, mixed with water and cooked on a hot stone. The earliest method of cooking flatbread probably involved spreading the dough over a very hot rock then peeling the dough off the rock when done cooking. This method is still used by the Hopi Indians in making their blue corn piki bread.

mixing up the dough (seriously this took 2 minutes tops)
I'm going to post a basic recipe here, but really there is no recipe. If you add flour and water together to make a dough, roll it out to your desired thickness, heat it, you will have made flatbread.
The versatility of this is phenomenal. You can roll it out to any thickness you desire. Thinner it will resemble the middle eastern bread, lavash, or a tortilla, or Indian naan bread. Thicker, (about 1/4 inch thick), it will be like a Navajo fry bread.
It may be cooked in a pan like I did, with butter, oil may also be used, or it could even be heated in a dry hot pan. It may be grilled on a bbq, cooked over a camping stove, over an open flame, in an oven, or old school style, over a hot rock.

rolling out the dough to make a flatbread, this one is a little thinner, similar to naan or lavash

It can be flavored any way you can possible imagine. Just mix it into the dough. Here are some examples.
*Garlic and Rosemary
*cinnamon and sugar
*flaxseeds and sesame seeds
*Italian herbs, or oregano and basil
*Parmesan cheese and minced onion
*finely chopped kalmata olives
You can also experiment with different flours, use any type you like!

frying it up!
The uses for the bread are endless as well. My husband likes to use it to dip into stew. It can be served with dip instead of crackers, used as a taco shell, a pizza crust, or used to wrap a sandwich.

Basic Flatbread
this recipe makes 2 or 3, if you need more, just double or triple it.

1 cup white unbleached flour
3/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup water (to start, you may need more)
a tsp olive oil (optional, will make the bread more elastic and easier to roll and deal with as well as adding flavor)
oil or butter for frying
In a large bowl add all ingredients (except the butter or oil for frying, or course.) Mix with a spoon until it becomes a dough.
Take out the dough, on a cutting board covered in flour knead the dough a few times. If it feels too wet, add a little more flour, conversely, if it feels too dry, add a little more water. Roll it out into rounds, or the shape you desire.
Heat a pan to medium high heat. Add butter or oil (if using) (you can also cook these in a dry pan, if cooking dry, you will need a pan on high heat) If using butter, you need a med high heat, because butter will burn on high heat.
Cook in hot pan, about 2 minutes on first side, then flip and cook another 1 min. or so on the other side.
That's it! Eat and enjoy! Could it be any easier?


Miss K said...

Hi, thanks for the recipe, I teach a cooking class at my kids school in south Australia. I teach 5 classes a week aged 7 to 11 and we are going to try these this week filled with vegies from our garden. I did a quick tester tonight at home and thought they tasted best cooked without oil or butter in the pan. Thanks for sharing. K

The Alchemist said...

Miss K- thanks so much for your input, what a great recipe to make with kids. Thanks for sharing. I hope it turns out wonderful.

Mark said...

Hi there, I just made some of your flat bread after hearing you on the legendary BTO. And OMG it was brilliant and so simple i'm going to use this a lot, Thanks for your great work. From Mark a student in Australia

The Alchemist said...

Mark- I'm so glad you enjoyed it! I love it's simplicity as well. Thanks for letting me know it worked out for you. Cheers!