Monday, July 23, 2012

Mezze--Lebanese Grilled Flatbread

Lebanese Grilled Flatbread
The slightly crispy texture that is characteristic of this bread is achieved best when the bread is not allowed to rise for very long. This makes it quick to prepare, despite its characterization as a yeast bread. If you find your bread is risen substantially and would like the bread to be crispy then make sure to deflate it thoroughly. If you want it to be softer then allow the dough to rise and do not deflate it too much when rolling out.

2 cups/10 oz all purpose flour
2 cups/10 oz whole wheat flour (you could use all all purpose, but whole wheat adds a nice flavor)
2 Tbsp sugar/honey
2 tsp salt
2 tsp yeast
1 cup warm water
½ cup oil
1 egg, beaten

Stir the yeast, flours, sugar, and salt together or proof yeast in the water if necessary. Beat the oil and egg together and stir the oil mixture and the water into the flour mixture to form a rough dough. Kneed the dough for five minutes and add additional flour only as necessary to prevent it from coming off on your hands. Form dough into a circle and cut it into six pieces. Allow the dough to rest, covered, if you have time because this will make it easier to roll out. If you want it to rest for longer than an half hour then put it into the refrigerator. Roll out each ball into a 1/8-inch thick round. Cook on a griddle pan or frying pan, which has been preheated over medium heat, for about two minutes per side. Keep cooked breads covered until you serve them.

It was interesting to me to learn that in many parts of the world people cook their everyday bread without the oven concept that is so familiar to us in the States. Grilling bread does not produce the lift or “oven pop” that an oven brings, but does produce a lovely, and relatively quick, flatbread that pairs nicely with just about anything. Leftovers make great lunch pizzas the next day.

VEGAN NOTES: Use egg substitute of choice or make your own by combining 1 cup potato starch, 1/2 cup corn starch, 1/3 cup soy flour, 2 Tbsp baking powder, and 1 Tbsp xanthan gum. To reconstitute an "egg" measure 1 Tbsp + 2 tsp of this mix into a saute pan over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until it smells toasty. Combine with 1 Tbsp water and 1 tsp soy lecithin (a little extra element I learned from Crescent Dragonwagon's "The Cornbread Gospels"). Mix into the recipe as you would an egg.

GLUTEN NOTES: Use all-purpose flour substitute (you can make your own by combining 2 parts rice flour, 2 parts potato starch, 1 part millet flour, and 1/2 part tapioca flour) and be sure to weigh this because it is denser than the all purpose flour--you will probably need only 3 1/4 cups or so but I have not weighed this for precision. Add 4 tsp xanthan gum with the flour. Be sure to use gluten-free baking powder.

© Katherine C. Otterstrom, July 2012

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