Tuesday, July 03, 2007
But I have one of those inquiring minds, even when it is overloaded. I cannot say that I did exhaustive research, but what I can say is that with more information about flatbreads, I felt comfortable enough to embark on my own path. Of course, this is quite a basic bread to make. I know that baking bread is a combination of chemistry, weather, and feel, to name a few contributing factors to a successful product. In addition to the niggling query I had, I was fuelled by the Daring Bakers' bagel exercise (feel free to read my friends' posts: Jasmine at Confessions of a Cardamom Addict, Freya at Writing At the Kitchen Table, Ivonne at Cream Puffs in Venice, Kelly-Jane at Cooking the Books, Pille at Nami-Nami, and Sara at i like to cook) and Bruno's baguettes at brunosdream.
I knew that I was successful as soon as the bread wasn't becoming stickier but smoother (the opposite of what happened last weekend). Reconfirmation came when I punched the dough down after it had proved for an hour. It gave way like a marshmellow. The indentations of my knuckles left the appearance of slept-on memory foam. I knew from here on out that the bread would turn out well.
I am not going to offer any substitutes because my recipe is based on seven different recipes, which allow for too many variants should you want to diverge from my path. I understand that choice is a good thing, but I fear sending you down a misguided path on account of my inexperience. Keep extra warm water and flour at the ready in case you need them to: 1) create a firm and soft dough; 2) to stop the dough from being too sticky. This recipe makes 6 flatbreads.
For the bread:
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (you may end up needing more)
2 tablespoons active dry yeast
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons heavy/double cream
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/3 cups warm water (you may end up needing more)
For the glaze:
1 teaspoon warm water
1 teaspoon heavy/double cream
1 tablespoon cumin seeds
1) Combine the flour, yeast, salt and ground cumin in a large bowl, then make a well.
2) Combine the cream, olive oil and water in a measuring cup.
3) Stir the dry ingredients into the centre with a wooden spoon as you slowly pour in the liquid. If, for some reason, a firm but soft dough is not being produced, add more warm water - only 1/8 cup at a time.
4) When you have a firm and soft dough, turn it out onto a foured surface.
5) Flour your hands.
6) Knead the dough, lightly adding more flour until you have a smooth and elastic dough. It took me about 7 minutes to get to this stage, but I understand it can take as long as 10 minutes.
7) Lightly oil a bowl.
8) Put the ball of dough into the oiled bowl, and roll it around so it, too, is oiled.
9) Cover the bowl with a tea towel and leave in a warm, though not draughty, place to rise to the desired lightness ("to prove") for one hour.
10) Punch the dough down then leave for 10 minutes.
11) Preheat the oven to 210 C/425 F.
12) To make six flatbreads, tear the dough into thirds, then each third in half.
13) To get the appearance of Jasmine's slipper, form each piece into an oval then roll flat with a lightly floured rolling pin on a lightly floured surface.
14) Place on baking sheets approximately 3cm/1.1" apart. Leave covered to proof again for 20 minutes. You may need more than one baking sheet, in which case you will have to bake in batches.
15) Using the back of a knife, cut a decorative design into the bread. I did a wave-like pattern so that I could break the bread more easily (by following the lines, I mean).
16) In a small bowl, beat together the ingredients for the glaze, except for the cumin seeds.
17) Brush the glaze onto the flatbreads just before baking and sprinkle with cumin seeds.
18) Bake for 8-10 minutes until the loaves are golden and slightly puffy, though cooked through.
19) Cover for a few minutes when they first come out so they don't get too crusty. (Thank you for tip Ms. Lawson, per How To Be A Domestic Goddess.)
The flatbread is chewy and easy to tear apart. The cumin is a comfort when the warmth of the bread is lukewarm, and it can support any mezze or zakusi plate with which you may want to pair this bread, for example: argan oil and dukkah, hummus bi tahini, muhammara, or charkhlis pkhali (a Georgian beetroot, coriander and walnut puree).
Nora B. - Thank you so much for stopping by. This flatbread is a breeze to make (really) and would be perfect with your hummus. My favorite hummus recipe is one from Claudia Roden's "The New Book of Middle Eastern Food". Please let me know if you would like the recipe e-mailed to you. It is very warm in California right now, which I can not prepare myself for, but a few days of it will be a nice change from the bitter coldness in New Zealand...but after a few days' of too much heat, I might be singing another tune - can never win!
I was thinking of you the other day when I made the bagels, my little one came up to help and said 'Are we making hot cross buns?'. She must have seen your pictures!
Thanks for sharing.
Ruth - This really is a breeze. As you can see, I'm taking the bread-baking thing in baby steps. I will do this a few more times to get comfortable with the process of bread-making (paying proper attention to proving, etc).
Cynthia - Well, the dhal puri might be a little while off yet but not too long, I hope. It looks really delicious, and I'm so curious to taste it. Do you know of any non-Jamaican restaurants in Los Angeles? I should do a proper search for Caribbean restaurants and then call them to see if they make dhal puri!
Susan, lovie - The zig-zagging is not only decorative but also very functional as it allows for tearing bits of bread to dip into oil and dukkah or hummus. A particular favorite? No. They all appeal on different days, and sometimes they are served all at once, especially if people are over for wine and nibbles.
Victoria - I do think of you when I read recipes because it seems like you have to make more of an effort to modify a recipe than most people. I suppose there is no such thing as wheat-free bread...
Rose - Thank you so much for visiting this little blog. This flatbread is perfect to have at any time and is a breeze to make (really, if I can do it, anyone can!).
Bruno - I, too, have a massive weakness for cumin. I have been inspired by Pille's comment above and may try it next with caraway seeds.
How's the weather in Auckland?
And secondly, I've found another great food blog. :)
Nigel - I'm making the flatbread again this weekend. It really is a breeze to make and is so substantial. As for the daiquiris, I have to say that I don't trypically order them in bars (in which I usually have a pinot noir or a sidecar) - though lately a vodka martini with cherries instead of olive in my chosen poison.
Amanda - Seriously, if I can make this turn out, you will not have any trouble. And, of course, you don't have to use cumin.
Lucy - Welcome! I'm glad you, too, know of the great joys of charkhlis pkhali. It is one of the first dips I thought of when making flatbread. When I left Auckland a storm was building up, and there has been a lot of rain since (including seriously bad flooding in the northern part of the country). I'm in LA for a couple of months, and I hope things will have settled down upon my return, though Spring is notoriously wet there.
Wendy - A warm welcome to you! I'm glad that the find was "lucky". This flatbread recipe has worked really well for me, and I hope that you find success with it - please let me know.
Veron - Once you return to the normalcy of home cooking (I know you're at "school" right now), give these a go. They do not require a lot of energy or even that much patience.