There are few things as profoundly satisfying as baking bread. The only downside for me is the oven, which I sometimes just don’t want to crank to 500 degrees, hot weather or not. The solution to this is flatbread, which gives you the same happy knead and rise, but can be accomplished on the stovetop–or even outside on the grill. You can use any basic bread recipe (yeast, water, a pinch of sugar, flour, salt). If you want an actual recipe, try the one in Home Baking, by Naomi Duguid and Jeffrey Alford, as it’s terrific–then read the rest of the book, which is one of my very favorites. Sourdough makes great flatbread too, and flatbread seems to turn out best when you add olive oil to the dough. The best flatbread I ever made was from the recipe Josef Centeno (late of Opus and Lot 1) gave me for his bäco. (It had Greek yogurt, garlic and lavender in it.) Whatever recipe you use, just make the dough as you would a normal loaf. But after a long rise, instead form the dough into small balls (about 2 oz., or golfball size) and let them rest on the counter. Heat a cast iron skillet, roll out the dough into flat pizza-like disks, brush with lots of olive oil and griddle the disks over high heat. As the dough bubbles and blisters, brush the top side with more evoo and maybe some Aleppo pepper, then flip and cook the other side. Fiat flatbread. Your kitchen will still be a fairly normal temperature, and you’ll have freshly griddled flatbread. Serve piled on a plate with bowls of hummus and harissa and raita, or wrapped around lamb meatballs or thin slices of carne asada. I once served flatbread with pork, rubbed with chiles and cacao nibs and wrapped in banana leaves and cooked for about as long as it took the dough to rise, and a bowl of mole negro. It was almost as good as one of Josef’s bäcos. No, it wasn’t. Josef, if you’re reading this, open a damn restaurant.
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