As the coronavirus sweeps the globe, affecting life as we know it, we are in the midst of a bout of panic buying, where the shelves of our stores are being wiped clean of basic provisions.
As the crisis continues to deepen, it is unclear how we will be affected in the future.
Which means that bread, a staple food for many, might not always be available at your store during these pressing times.
While many of us have lost the basic knowledge of preparing and baking bread, relying on store-bought loaves instead, baking bread is simple, easy and cost-effective. Pound for pound, home-baked bread will save you money.
Bread is a staple food in most countries. While the western world would seem to prefer the loaf variety, flatbread is very popular in Asia and the Middle Eastern parts of the world.
I have travelled extensively throughout Asia and the Middle East and flatbread is a favourite food of mine. Whether it’s a Turkish pita bread, Indian chapati, or Moroccan mahrash, the eastern world has been using flatbread to mop up their food for centuries.
What is the difference in terms of the cooking method between a flatbread and a usual loaf of bread, you might ask? The only real difference is the addition of yeast that is added to the mix for a loaf of bread. The yeast activates during cooking and causes the bread to rise.
As no yeast is used in no-bake flatbread, they stay flat. For this reason, they can be cooked in a griddle or frying pan instead, making this an easy recipe for those of you who have limited cooking skills.
The flatbread can be used to mop up stews and sauce-based dishes, used as an alternative to make a sandwich roll, or with dips such as hummus or salsa. You can also make a slightly thicker version to use as the base for an open-top sandwich.
While some of you may already have a bread maker to do the hard work for you, don’t worry if you haven’t invested in a machine so far. With a little knowledge, you can dish up a simple flatbread with only four ingredients, a bowl, rolling pin (or equivalent), griddle or frying pan, and cooking source. Limited cooking skills are needed for this recipe.
This is a very basic recipe for beginners. With a little research and practice, there are many styles of flatbread you can recreate at home.
Ingredients (Makes 8)
Plain Flour (Wholemeal or All Purpose) 450g/1 lb
Cold Water 225ml/7.5 fl oz
Oil (2 tablespoons) – Optional
Pinch of Salt -Optional
1. Place the flour (leave a little over to use for shaping the bread), the oil and salt in a deep bowl. Add the water to another bowl.
2. Add the water to the bowl containing the flour a little at a time. I begin by stirring in with a fork until the dough begins to form and then knead with my hands. The longer you knead the dough, the softer the bread will be. You are looking for a soft, elastic consistency so that the dough stretches a little.
3. Divide the dough into eight similar sized pieces and shape into balls.
3. In order to roll the bread into shape, you will need to use a kitchen chopping board or work surface. Sprinkle some of the reserved flour onto your chosen surface.
4. One by one, flatten each piece slightly with your fingertips, then place onto the floured surface. With your rolling pin (you can use any type of bottle if you haven’t got a rolling pin), roll the dough out into a flat disc of 15 cm (6 inches). If the dough sticks to the surface, dust the surface with more flour as needed.
5. Heat your shallow frying or griddle pan at the highest setting. Once hot, lay your flatbread onto the griddle or pan and cook for 20-30 seconds, until the surface bubbles.
6. Turn over the flatbread with cooking tongs and cook the other side for 10-15 seconds. The flatbread is cooked once brown spots to appear on the underside.
7. Repeat with the following pieces and stack them when cooked.
In times of need, this recipe is the perfect way to provide you with a source of bread for multiple uses.