It’s been several months since COVID-19 has upended our lives, though it still feels like we’re stuck in limbo, doesn’t it? Much like everyone else, I have spent longer in the kitchen – prepping, cooking, cleaning, and repeat. I can’t remember the last time I baked so much and my new-found baking obsession is flatbread. It’s much easier than making a pizza (I have made a fair few of those as well) and just as delicious. My go-to is this fabulous flatbread recipe via Sally’s Baking Addiction.
The recipe works for both whole wheat flour (atta) and refined or all-purpose flour (maida). I have made a minor tweak to the recipe in terms of how it’s baked. Many recipes suggest putting all the toppings on the flatbread and baking it for 15-20 minutes. I find that the toppings don’t cook uniformly – 20 minutes is not enough time to properly roast the vegetables, it’s way too much time for the cheese, and your pesto WILL get incinerated. Instead, bake the plain flatbread until it’s almost done, pull it out to add toppings, and put it back in the oven for a final finish.
I usually pre-roast the vegetables (sliced zucchini, tomatoes, and aubergines are my favourites) the previous evening and refrigerate until I’m ready to use bake (I roast them in big batches so they can be used for other recipes too). You can pre-cook the meats/sausages as well and have them ready beforehand. Also, use a good quality olive oil while kneading the dough and for drizzling on it. I’m currently using this Spanish olive oil that I bought in Madrid earlier this year – you know, in the BC (Before Corona) era…
Here’s the basic flatbread recipe. I have listed the suggested toppings below. This recipe makes 2 flatbreads and serves 4 people.
- Flour (whole wheat or all-purpose) – 250 gm, plus more for the surface
- Water (lukewarm) – 180 ml
- Olive oil – 15 ml (1 tbsp), plus more for brushing
- Salt – 1 tsp
- Mixed herbs (optional) – 1 tsp
- Yeast (active dry or instant) – 1 tsp
- Sugar (granulated) – 1 tsp
Make the dough
- Activate the yeast as per packet instructions. Generally, place the yeast and sugar in a bowl, pour some warm water on it and let it rest for 5-7 minutes until it froths. I use instant yeast, which can be added to the flour directly. However, I still prefer to activate it using the above method (I also add a few teaspoons of flour along with the yeast and sugar). This works better in the recipe and you also know if the yeast is usable (it has a shelflife!). It has to froth well, like so.
- In a large mixing bowl, place the flour, salt, and mixed herbs (optional).
- Pour in the yeast slurry, olive oil, and water.
- Knead it well. You can knead with your hands but I prefer using my hand mixer with a dough hook attachment.
- The dough should be thick and smooth but not too tight. It’s OK if it’s a bit sticky and has some stretch. If it is too sticky, add some flour and knead again.
- Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and leave it to rise for at least 45 minutes and up to 2 hours. It should double in size.
How to bake
- When you’re ready to bake, punch the dough down and divide it into two. You can refrigerate one ball if you’re only making one flatbread (it will last in the refrigerator for up to 2 days).
- Place the dough ball on a lightly floured surface. Stretch and shape it by hand or with a rolling pin (my way). The flatbread should be thin, about 1/4 inch in thickness.
- Transfer to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and poke your fingers all around the surface of the flatbread (or prick a few holes with a fork).
- Drizzle with olive oil and brush it all over.
- Bake in a preheated oven at 225°C for 12-15 minutes until the crust is light brown and seems cooked.
- Pull out the flatbread (leave the oven on) and quickly spread the pre-cooked toppings (see notes above and suggestions below).
- Put the flatbread back in the oven and let it cook for 4-5 minutes or until the cheese melts.
- Slice and serve warm.
Suggestions for toppings
When it comes to toppings, less is more. Start with some sort of sauce or pesto on the flatbread and then build on it with a couple of vegetables or a mix of veggies and meat, and finally throw on some cheese.
- My favourite way to eat flatbread is to slather it with homemade basil pesto and top with roasted tomato slices and mozzarella.
- Try sundried tomato pesto (I love this one from Saucery) with roasted zucchini and aubergine slices, plus crumbled feta.
- If you eat meat, basil pesto topped with sausage (cooked beforehand), tomato, and mozzarella is a cracker.
- Take a shot at Margherita flatbread with tomato sauce topped with mozzarella and fresh basil leaves (sprinkle the leaves after you have finished the entire baking process).
- Make it pretty with basil pesto, roasted cherry tomatoes, and any cheese you love!
- Spread tomato sauce on the flatbread, top with caramelized onions and crumble some feta to make a delish flatbread.
Basically, if it tastes good on a pizza, it’s gonna work on a flatbread! I suppose you can even try this flatbread recipe with sweet toppings (just skip the mixed herbs in the dough though). In fact, I’m going to experiment a bit on this front and I will keep you posted. Follow me on Instagram for updates.
So give this flatbread recipe a shot and let me know how it goes. Leave a comment below, especially if you try any interesting toppings – I will update the post with your suggestions!
Stay safe, and wear a mask if you’re stepping out.