Continuing in the vein of the last couple of weeks of Vintage Chef columns, this week’s recipe is designed to make the most of common ingredients, and give maximum reward for minimum effort with these incredibly simple flatbreads.
Last week, I wrote about the joy that baking can bring even in adverse circumstances, how it remained a source of solace to me in this brave new world. These flatbreads are joyful (warm, pliable, smoky from the griddle), but when I make them, I tend not to be seeking joy as much as stability. These flatbreads require so little: no yeast, no proving time, no kneading – they don’t even need an oven. And it takes – from bag of flour to stuffing it in your mouth – about ten minutes. Being able to make flatbreads so quickly, so easily, from just two ingredients, makes me feel in control, makes me feel safe, like I can provide for myself and those around me. When I make these flatbreads, I can’t help but feel: I’ve got this.
At their most basic, they really do only require two ingredients: self-raising flour and natural yoghurt. If you can add half a tablespoon of olive oil, a teaspoon of baking powder, and a pinch of salt, so much the better, but they will work without. Those two ingredients alone will produce soft, handsome flatbreads, that are easy to handle, and whose taste belies their simplicity. I use a (very old, very cheap) griddle pan because it gives the bread those nice dark striation marks, but a frying pan or cast iron skillet will work perfectly well.
We’ve had these twice in the last week along, because they truly are so quick and simple to make (the second time, I even entrusted the recipe to my husband). The first time, I stuffed them full of streaky bacon and whatever condiments were lurking at the back of the fridge, and the second time, we wrapped them round some slow-cooked lamb. But they are terribly versatile, dunkable and dippable into pretty much anything you could think of: from humous, baba ghanoush, and taramasalata, to curries and stews, via scooping up molten, baked cheeses and mopping up pasta sauces.
If you’d like to eat them as they come, or just fancy injecting greater flavour into your meal, you can paint the flatbreads with flavoured butters when they are still warm from the pan. I like a classic garlic and parsley butter, but the options are almost limitless: tapenade or sundried tomato paste, lemon and thyme butter, marmite, gochujang, a masala spice mix, chilli, coriander and lime, blue cheese and walnut, or even go sweet, with a little sugar, and vanilla, cinnnamon or nutmeg.
Flatbreads by The Vintage Chef (Credit: Samuel Pollen)
Simple flat breads
Makes: 4 large flatbreads
Takes: 5 minutes
Bakes: 5 minutes
For the flatbreads
200g self-raising flour
200g natural yoghurt
½ tablespoon olive oil
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon fine salt
For the flavoured butter (optional)
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon dried parsley, or ½ teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
- Mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl, bringing the dough together. The dough should be soft, but if it is too sticky or wet to be workable, you can add a little extra flour.
- Divide the dough into four equal blobs. Dust your work surface and rolling pin with a little flour and roll each ball of dough out into a thin round
- Heat a (dry) griddle pan or frying pan until it is very hot, and then carefully transfer one of the rolled out flatbreads onto the pan. Cook the flatbread a couple of minutes each side, turning the flatbread over when the uncooked side has puffed or bubbled up.
- If you want to paint the flatbreads with flavoured butter, melt the butter in a small saucepan. Once melted, stir through the flavourings you’re using – in this recipe, I’ve stirred through chopped garlic, dried parsley and a little salt. Leave to infuse the butter for 5 minutes, then paint generously onto one side of the still warm flatbreads.