The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Flatbread in a frying pan?

Bhutanbaker's picture

Flatbread in a frying pan?


This is a wonderful website, and i've been trawling in search of flat breads that might work in a frying pan. I don't have an oven, grill, toaster oven etc and am not going to be able to acquire one up here in the Himalayan foothills (I'm in Bhutan). What I do have is a gas burner and a frying pan, and I can get instant yeast, baking powder and white or brown flour. Yoghurt / curd is not available and my attempts to make it end up in with curdled sour milk. However, I may yet master the art!


Can anyone suggest a flat bread recipe that might work with what's available? I do miss bread ....


Thank you!

ehanner's picture

Here is a recipe that I have used many times. There is a link in the post to the source of the original recipe also with some other ideas. You can get the pan very hot and either flip the dough or cover the pan. You could also use a flat stone.

What a situation. Only a gas burner and live Internet connection. Tell us more.


Bhutanbaker's picture

Thanks Eric! Am I missing the link for the naan recipe?  I can't see it.

Regarding the wood oven ... definitely worth a thought, but it's monsoon now so not ideal for outdoor cooking. And I'm not sure I'm sufficiently invested. But maybe when everything dries out.

Mad isn't it ... the broadband connection, but no hot water, cooker, fridge? Still, among all the options I'd surely go for broadband.

ehanner's picture

Sorry, in my haste I neglected to attach the link. It should work now and I see Elizabeth posted some good info.

I have a spare dutch oven I would mail you that would improve your conditions. Let me know if that would work out.


ejm's picture

Aha! I wondered where the link was, Eric!

I love that this naan is quite different from our naan. We use yoghurt and melted butter right in the dough, rather than milk. The recipe we use is based on one of Madhur Jaffery's recipes; she calls for ghee (clarified butter).

Good idea about the dutch oven. I've never tried baking bread in a dutch oven, but some years ago my sister has baked a cake in her wok. (Actually, so have we, just to see if it was possible and it was! It works amazingly well.)  At the time, we wrote:

"I had to try it, so I made a little cake tonight after supper. I made 1/3 [of a] cake, in my 5-inch cast iron frying pan. I used our large wok with a round wire trivet about an inch above the water level. We don't have any bamboo steamers, so I just left the pan open on the trivet. After about 45 minutes, it had baked BEAUTIFULLY. It was a tiny bit damp on top, but it dried immediately. It looked just like it had baked in the oven. [...] [I]t was fabulous. Not any better than baked in the oven; exactly the same, but I think there was much less heat generated." -my sister, Oct 2004

"One of us (not me... I make bread, not cakes!) FINALLY tried this in the wok with a regular cake pan balanced precariously on the wok stand that was inserted into the wok. (Half recipe of eggless chocolate cake in an 8 inch cake pan) The wok with lid placed on top was placed directly on the burner - only wobbling a little. The cake is brilliant. It came out a tiny bit lopsided but it really does work. Next time, we'll use the small 6 inch spring form pan that fits into our bamboo steamers." -ejm, Nov 2004

Here is the method we were following.

  1. First place a couple of inches of water in wok. make sure it does not come into steamer area.
  2. Bring water to boil and place cake in [bamboo] steamer and cover with steamer lid.
  3. Turn down a fraction so water is still boiling. I just turn my stove 1/4 turn on dial. It is not all that important, as long as it is still boiling but no need for super rapid boil.
  4. Leave for 40 minutes.
  5. Test with skewer. If all OK next time just cook it by time and forget the skewer test.

-BillBloggs (aka WayneT),, Sep 2004

So, in absence of a dutch oven... perhaps bread can be baked this way too. I'm not sure that it would get crispy and golden but it would definitely get baked. (Although... what about Chinese steamed buns?)


I've never tried making Chinese steamed buns but here is a likely looking recipe: (scroll down on the cookingninja page to see photos of the steamed buns)

ehanner's picture

After seeing your request for recipes for a fry pan I posted a link for Naan, which I think will work for you. It would be better if you can find a way to heat both sides similar to an oven.

Really I think if I were in your spot, I would make a small earthen oven and use wood to heat it. Find a large flat rock or a few that can be placed together in the bottom of a hole you can dig out of the side of a hill. Dig deep enough and wide enough so you can line the hole with other stones or flat pieces. You will need to fashion a door to keep the heat in after burning a fire for a few hours. The stones and earth will retain heat for other cooking you might want to do also. The range of breads you can make in a wood fired oven is much better. If you think you might want to try this, there are many members here that bake in wood earthen ovens who will help, I'm sure.


ejm's picture

Yes, naan can be made on the stove top.

Normally, we bake naan on a stone in the oven or directly on the grill in our gas barbecue. But one night a fuse blew on our oven JUST as we were about to bake the naan. Luckily, we were familiar with cooking chapatis on the stovetop and quickly switched to using the stove.

Pita can be made on the stovetop too. We start the cooking in an UNOILED tava (flat Indian tempered steel pan) but a cast-iron skillet works just as well. We finish the baking on a footed rack placed over a hot burner.

pita cooking on stovetop (photo ejm Feb2006)naan (March 2008)



tava (image ©ejm)footed wire rack (image ©ejm)


(edited to correct spelling)

jennyloh's picture

english muffins definitely work on flat pans.  I wonder if pita works as well?  Wow - Bhutan - that must be an interesting place!  

halfrice's picture

I second chapatis and naan. Naan is leavened (either with yeast or baking powder) and chapati isn't.

with naan, you put the tawa (tava, tuwa) on medium high heat before putting the bread on it, when the bottom is done, hold the pan upside down to scorch the upper side, this cooks the top and also makes larger air pockets.

subfuscpersona's picture

 when you turn the pan upside down?

halfrice's picture

you sprinkle a bit of water on the side that goes on the pan, turn the pan upside down before the bottom is completely cook because when the bottom is done, it will just fall off the pan.

Sam Fromartz's picture
Sam Fromartz

I will post the recipe tomorrow, but basiaclly you roll out dough thin, place in very hot cast iron pan and cover. After 1 minute turn over and cover. After 30 seconds remove cover and let cook. It will have puffed up in parts. 

Of course, the directions depend on how hot your flame is. But that's the technique and it's very easy: Pan, lid, dough. Done in 2-3 minutes.

Bhutanbaker's picture

Wow - this really is a wonderful site. I imagined I'd have to wait days for a response!

Eric - the link to your naan seems to have disappeared again (or am I going mad?). And thank you so much for the Dutch oven offer - that's very generous. However, I'm sure it would cost a fortune to send something so heavy and I've got lots here to be going on with. Making the trip to the nearest town later in the week to see if I can find a tava; and or a lid for my frying pan.

Elizabeth - I'll let you know if I try the Bake in a wok method,but in the meantime thanks for the really useful photo essays and recipes. I don't have many of the things the yoghurt recipe requires - fridge, oven, yoghurt BUT the recipe gives me a good idea of the principles and I'm sure someone here will be able to give me a starter.

Chapati, muffins, tortillas, naans .... Yes! Very excited to start baking, but it'll probably be next week bewfore I get a chance. I'll post here and let you know. In the meantime THANK YOU all very much!

ehanner's picture


On my monitor, the link is less obvious after I have been to the site once. It still works for me. You can just go to the search box in the TFL front page and enter Naan. The first result is the one I use from gothicgirl and there are others.

I sent you a private message you can retrieve from the link just below the search box.


earth3rd's picture

All boyscouts know this one... Bannok



1 cup flour

1 pinch salt

1 pinch sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

enough water to make a dough that is sticky, but holds together

• form into patties

• fry in bacon grease on both sides until golden brown

• put in dutch oven and set near fire to finish baking (10-15 minutes)

Eat with butter, or honey, or jam, or both, or all three, or anything else you like.


We don't really use the dutch oven when we are on canoe trips.

Hope this satisfies your desire for some bread.



hanseata's picture

The bread baking part may be difficult, but what a beautiful, interesting place to be. My daughter was there for 3 months (as a chef in a resort) last year - I saw the photos on facebook.


earth3rd's picture

You can use a no knead recipe and bake it in a covered pot.


reddragon's picture

it turned out great. I pinched off a small bit of my bread dough before I started proofing, flattened it out with my hand, cooked it on the baking stone in the oven which was preheating for the bread loaves. It turned out like the flat breads they serve at kebap houses in Istanbul, though they'd use plain AP flour. I know that at least some of these restaurants bake their breads in pans on top of the stove.

ElPanadero's picture

Hi Bhutanbaker

Fascinating situation you find yourself in !  I wish you lots of luck and good fortune.

Tell if you will, are you able to get hold of all of the following ingredients?

Milk, Sugar, Salt, Butter