Four Corners of the Kitchen: Flatbreads

Four Corners of the Kitchen: Flatbreads

Flatbreads have been with the human race for over 6,000 years, and since then, they have remained an integral part of many societies. The dish is still popular worldwide, and every country has its own unique flatbread variation. Here are a few flatbread recipes from around the world, along with explanations of their significance.

 

Indian Naan

Naan has been a traditional Indian bread since the fourteenth century and was first cooked in the Imperial Court at Delhi. Its versatility and soft texture have made it a popular addition to many South Asian meals.

Ingredients

2 tsp dry active yeast
1 tsp sugar
1/2 cup water
2 ½ –3 cups flour, divided
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup olive oil
1/3 cup plain yogurt
1 large egg

Directions

  1. Dissolve yeast and sugar in water, then let sit for a few minutes or until it is frothy on top. Whisk in the oil, yogurt, and egg until evenly combined.
  2. Add salt and flour. Stir until well combined. Continue adding flour, a half cup at a time, until you can no longer stir it with a spoon (about 1 to 1½ cups).
  3. Turn the ball of dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead the ball of dough for about 3 minutes, adding small amounts of flour to keep the dough from sticking. You’ll end up using between 2½ to 3 cups flour total. The dough should be smooth and very soft but not sticky. Avoid adding excessive amounts of flour, as this can make the dough too dry and stiff.
  4. Cover the dough and let it rise 1 hour. Gently flatten the dough into a disc and cut into 8 equal pieces. Shape each piece into a small ball. 5. Heat a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Roll each ball out until it is about 1/4 inch thick or approximately 6 inches in diameter. Place the dough on the hot skillet and cook until the bottom is golden brown and large bubbles have formed on the surface. Flip the dough and cook the other side until golden brown as well. Stack the cooked bread on a plate and cover to keep warm. Serve plain or brushed with melted butter and sprinkled with herbs.

Adapted from budgetbytes.com

Mediterranean Pita Bread

For over 4,000 years, the pita has been a staple in the Middle Eastern diet. The “pocket” that forms when cooking makes pita bread perfect for all sorts of fillings and turns it into not only a food, but a utensil.

Ingredients

2 tsp active dry yeast
1 cup lukewarm water
½ tsp sugar
¼ cup whole-wheat flour
2 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour, divided
1 tsp kosher salt
2 Tbs olive oil

Directions

  1. Dissolve sugar and yeast in water. Whisk in whole-wheat flour and ¼ cup all-purpose flour. Put bowl in a warm place, uncovered, until mixture is frothy and bubbling, about 15 minutes.
  2. Add salt, olive oil, and nearly all remaining allpurpose flour (reserve ½ cup). With a wooden spoon, stir until mixture forms a shaggy mass. Dust with a little of the reserved flour, then knead in bowl for 1 minute, incorporating any stray bits of dry dough.
  3. Turn dough onto work surface. Knead lightly for 2 minutes, until smooth. Cover and let rest 10 minutes, then knead again for 2 minutes. Cover bowl tightly and put in a warm place. Leave until dough has doubled in size, about 1 hour.
  4. Heat oven to 475 degrees. On bottom shelf of oven, place a heavy-duty baking sheet. Punch down dough and divide into 8 pieces. Form each piece into a little ball.
  5. Take a ball and press into a flat disk with rolling pin. Roll to about 1/8 inch thick, dusting with flour if necessary.
  6. Carefully lift the dough circle and place quickly on hot baking sheet. After 2 minutes the dough should be nicely puffed. Flip and bake 1 minute more until pita is pale with only a few brown speckles. Repeat with the rest of the dough balls.

Adapted from cooking.nytimes.com

Native American Frybread

When Native Americans were forced from their homelands in the mid-1800s, they were sent to land that lacked farming resources the people needed. The US government sent help in the form of canned rations and flour, sugar, and lard. These ingredients were used to create frybread. Today, frybread has become a symbol of Native American strength and pride.

Ingredients

4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 ½ cups lukewarm water
4 cups shortening

Directions

  1. Combine flour, salt, and baking powder. Stir in 1½ cups lukewarm water. Knead until soft but not sticky. Shape dough into balls about 3 inches in diameter. Flatten into patties ½ inch thick, and make a small hole in the center of each.
  2. Fry one at a time in 1 inch of hot shortening, turning to brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels.

Recipe adapted from allrecipes.com

Norwegian Potato Lefse

Norwegian folklore claims that lefse was a gift from the ancient Norse gods. This is likely untrue, seeing as the dish is only 350 years old. Despite this, Norwegians take great pride in lefse. The flatbread is a traditional Christmas treat and a symbol of Norwegian heritage. Due to its sacred, revered status, some have referred to it as Norway’s own “holy bread.”

Ingredients

5 lbs russet potatoes, peeled
2 sticks unsalted sweet cream butter (room temperature)
1 teaspoon salt
1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour

Directions

  1. Bring a large stock pot full of water to a boil. Cut peeled potatoes into 2-3 pieces and cook until tender.
  2. Rice cooked potatoes into a large bowl with a potato ricer. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  3. Remove potatoes from refrigerator and let them warm to room temperature. Move approximately half of the riced potatoes to a smaller bowl. Add flour in 1/4-cup increments, along with ½ stick of butter and salt. Knead until well-mixed. The dough should have a texture similar to light pie dough. It should form into a ball without sticking to your hands and hold its shape without cracking when pressed lightly. Warm griddle to 400°F.
  4. Form finished potato mixture into balls about the size of a golf ball. Flour a pastry board covered with a pastry cloth and rub flour into cloth. You want just enough flour so that lefse will not stick. Roll out lefse until it is 1/8 inch thick. Transfer lefse to griddle and cook until bubbles form and each side has browned. Place lefse on damp towel to cool slightly and then cover with damp towel until ready to serve.

Recipe adapted from www.sofn.com

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