Flatbread, a Perfect Summer Treat
I wrote a story in the WaPo on a wood-fired baking class at King Arthur Flour with Jeffrey Hamelman. Here's the companion recipe on flatbread, which has a hydration of 66%. It seemed appropriate given the long thread launched by Bhutan Baker.
Summer is a great time to make this yeast-free flatbread, which takes minutes to cook on top of the stove. The recipe calls for chapati flour, a very finely ground whole-wheat flour that is available in Indian markets. You can use regular whole-wheat flour, but it must be sifted to remove any large particles of bran.
MAKE AHEAD: This dough is best made in the morning for use later in the day. The balls of dough can be refrigerated in a lightly oiled resealable plastic food storage bag for 2 or 3 days; let the dough come to room temperature before rolling. The flatbreads can be wrapped in aluminum foil and reheated in a 400-degree oven for about 5 minutes.
Makes 12 flatbreads
3 cups (400 grams) whole-wheat flour or chapati flour, plus more for the work surface (see headnote)
Scant 1 1/4 cups (265 grams) water
2 tablespoons vegetable or olive oil, plus more for the bowl
1 1/2 teaspoons (8 grams) salt
Combine the flour, water, oil and salt in a bowl until they come together into a mass. Let sit at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes while the flour absorbs the water.
Lightly flour a work surface. (All-purpose flour can be used for this; if using whole-wheat flour, make sure it has been sifted to remove any large bran particles.) Transfer the dough to the work surface and knead for about 5 minutes by pushing down on and spreading the dough and then turning it over on itself, being careful not to rip the dough. It should be smooth and elastic. Form it into a ball and place in a clean, oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rest for 8 to 12 hours.
About 45 minutes before you want to bake, spread out the dough on a lightly floured counter and form into 2 logs. Cut each log into 6 equal pieces. You should have 12 pieces of dough that weigh about 2 ounces each; evenly distribute any leftover dough as needed.
Shape each piece into a ball. Let the balls rest for 30 minutes at room temperature under plastic wrap.
Place a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat; cover with a lid. (Alternatively, invert a wok over a burner for cooking on the underside of the wok.)
Liberally flour a work surface. Flatten a dough ball and dust it lightly with flour, then use a rolling pin to roll it out as thin as possible (7 to 9 inches in diameter), rotating the disk to keep it even.
Image: dough rolled out nearly paper thin.
When the skillet is smoking lightly, gently lift a disk of dough. Place it in the skillet and cover immediately. Cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then flip the dough. Cover and cook for 30 seconds. (If using an overturned wok, simply place the bread on top of the wok and flip it when ready.) The breads will bake in 2 minutes and should be blistered and dark in spots.
Remove the flatbread and cover with a towel or aluminum foil to keep it from crusting over. (Dot it with butter and fold it in half if you like). Serve warm. These can be made in advance and stored in a resealable plastic container.
Recipe adapted from Jeffrey Hamelman, a master baker and bakery director at King Arthur Flour.
This version was posted on my blog at ChewsWise.com
Image: Flatbread stuffed with beets, goat cheese and cilantro