We love these wonderful, soft but slightly charred, yeast-free breads (also known as soft tortillas). I could eat a whole pile of them, hot from the pan, just trickled with oil and sprinkled with salt. However, they are incredibly versatile and the ideal partner to everything from hummus to a bulghur wheat salad such as tabula kisir. They are also ideal for wrapping burgers, sausages, kebabs and other barbecued meat or veg, and for mopping up a good wet curry or stew.
Sift the flour into a large bowl and add the salt. Add the oil to 150ml warm water, then pour this liquid into the flour in a thin stream, stirring well with a wooden spoon or your hands to form a slightly sticky dough. Turn the dough out on to a lightly floured work surface and knead for about 5 minutes, until it feels smooth and plump, sprinkling on a little more flour only if the dough feels very sticky. Cover the ball of dough with the upturned mixing bowl and let it rest for at least 15 minutes.
When you’re ready to cook and eat the flatbreads, roll the dough into a sausage shape and divide it into 8 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball. Flour the work surface and rolling pin, then roll out each ball of dough into a round 2–3mm thick, using plenty of flour as the dough is liable to stick.
Place a heavy-based non-stick frying pan – or a cast-iron griddle – over a high heat and when it’s good and hot, turn the heat down a bit. Have ready a plate lined with a clean tea towel so you can put your cooked flatbreads on it to keep them warm and soft.
Shake off any excess flour and carefully lay a flatbread in the hot pan. Let it sit for a minute or two, until the dough looks ‘set’ on top and is starting to lift away from the pan. Look at the underside and, if you can see dark brown patches forming, flip it over with a spatula or tongs. Cook the second side for 30–45 seconds. Wrap the cooked flatbread in the tea towel while you cook the others. If the flatbreads are colouring too quickly, lower the heat a bit.
Serve the flatbreads while still soft and warm. Once cold, they won’t be quite the same. But they can be recycled by tearing them into pieces, brushing with a little oil, then crisping them up in a hot oven (at 220°C/Gas Mark 7) to make dipping chips, or flat croûtons for soups and salads.
- 250g plain flour
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 tablespoon rapeseed, olive or sunflower oil
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Learn the ins and outs of truly great bread, with a day of mixing, kneading, baking and eating at the River Cottage Cookery School.