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?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Triple Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Triple Chocolate zucchini muffin/cupcake
O.K. if you are lucky enough to grow zucchini or know someone who does and is happy to gift you with the lovely vegetable this bread is quite a worthy recipient.
I have been growing zucchini for the past 3 years, mostly to use for baking yummy items such as this. I shred quite a bit of it in my food processor, (you can also use a box grater for this task) and freeze it in gallon size freezer bags so I can use it for baking throughout the year.
This bread is delightfully moist, rich and very chocolaty due to the three types of chocolate involved. You would never know the zucchini is in there, you can't taste it but it adds moisture, fiber and nutrition.

Triple Chocolate Zucchini Bread


2 (one ounce) squares of unsweetened chocolate
3 eggs
2 cups white sugar
1 cup vegetable oil (or whatever type of neutral oil you prefer)
2-2 1/2 cups shredded zucchini (with the moisture squeezed out of it)
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups white unbleached flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3 Tablespoons cocoa
1 cup chocolate chips (plus more for sprinkling on top of bread)
1/2 cup sour cream or yogurt


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. (175 degrees C. ) Lightly grease 2 loaf pans, (or 1 big loaf pan plus 2 or 3 small loaf pans, or muffin tins if you prefer) If using a large loaf pan I recommend greasing the pan then using a parchment paper sling as show here. Grease the parchment paper also. The reason for this, is the chocolate chips like to stick to the bottom of the pan, no matter how much grease I use. It's not too bad with the small pans.

Melt the unsweetened chocolate in a pan over low heat, stir until smooth, set aside.

In a large mixing bowl combine eggs, sugar, oil, grated zucchini, vanilla and melted chocolate.
beat well with electric mixer. In another large bowl whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cocoa, and chocolate chips. Add to wet mixture, beat until combined well, 2 minutes or so. Add sour cream or yogurt mix until incorporated.

Pour batter into prepared pans 3/4 of the way full, sprinkle extra chocolate chips on top of loaves before baking if desired. Bake until toothpick inserted into center of bread comes out clean. For muffins it will take about 25-35 minutes, for small loaf about 35 minutes, for large loaf it will take about an hour, (give or take 5 or 10 minutes.)

When loaves have cooled, remove from pans and wrap with plastic wrap or foil to keep airtight.this recipe made one big loaf, the 2 small ones and one muffin/cupcake (above)
or it will yield 2 large loaves