One of the quickest ways to get me in the kitchen these days is to wave a new bread recipe in my face. Of course, it never takes much to get me in the kitchen, but I’m a total sucker for just about any recipe with yeast in the ingredient list. Bread making is one of those fun culinary excursions where science meets art and I'm more than a little fascinated by the whole process. I’ve been working on my sourdough bread recipe for over 2 years now, and don’t think I’ll ever decide it’s where I want it to be because I’ve become fairly attached to my “project”. And as complicated as sourdough can be, flatbreads are fun, easy and just about as scrumptious.
Over the years, I’ve gotten emails and comments from many of you bemoaning your reticence about working with yeast and bread doughs. I’ve encouraged you to just get in there and play with it and let it be OK if your bread doesn't turn out great the first 10 times you make it. More than likely, it’s going to be great the first time, but start with something easy and even if you aren't that happy with the results, just keep at it. The one and only trick to making bread or working with yeast is experience. The more you do it, the more comfortable you will be with it. It really doesn't take long, and I promise you that the aromas of baking bread will be reward in itself.
If you think of yourself as a bit yeast-phobic, this is such a great recipe to play with. It’s a cinch to throw together, and the dough can be kept in the fridge for days so you can bake your flatbreads whenever you get the whim. It’s a very forgiving dough, (forgiveness is a lovely thing when baking bread); no matter how they turn out, they’ll be delicious. I like to roll ours as thin as possible, but it really doesn't matter how thick or thin you roll them, they puff up so beautifully and taste amazing.
So once you’ve got your flatbread dough all made, you just pinch off pieces, roll them into circle-ish disks and throw them onto a hot grill or griddle. They only cook for a minute or so on each side and then they're ready to slather, stuff or just eat out of hand.
Our favorite way to stuff them so far is to place a couple of these roasted tomatoes in the flatbread, top them with a couple of meatballs, melt some mozzarella cheese on top and then add some fresh salad greens. Crazy good.
Delicious comes in all shapes and sizes… and when it comes to bread, it turns out that flat is impressively scrumptious. Here’s the recipe…
One of the great things about this recipe is that the dough can hang out in the fridge for several days, so you can make it well in advance. I've kept it for as long as a week and over that time, just took out enough dough to make a few flatbreads at a time. I prefer to roll mine out as thin as possible, so I usually get about 10 flatbreads out of this recipe. I proof the yeast in the bowl of my stand mixer and then mix all of the ingredients into that one bowl, using the dough hook to bring it all together.
Recipe courtesy Amy Thielen, Heartland Table
3/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
Pinch of sugar
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for oiling
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 1/4 cups bread flour
For the flatbread: Combine the yeast, sugar and 1/4 cup lukewarm water in a small bowl and let the yeast puff up and proof, about 3-4 minutes. (I do this in my stand mixer - see headnote).
Pour the yeast mixture into a large bowl and add 1 cup lukewarm water, the oil and salt. Add 1 cup of the flour and whisk until smoothly combined. Switching to a wooden spoon, add the rest of the flour and stir until you have a soft dough. Rub the dough with a bit more oil, press a square of plastic wrap to its surface and let it rise at room temperature until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Punch down the dough, transfer it to an oiled plastic bag and let it proof in the refrigerator at least 4 hours or as long as 3 days.
Heat a grill over high heat. Generously oil a baking sheet. Divide the flatbread into eight portions on the baking sheet. Press the dough into thin rounds, about 8 inches in diameter.
Grill the breads over medium-high heat, closing the lid right after putting them on and flipping and turning to avoid any flare-ups. Each flatbread will take about 2 minutes to cook.