“‘If you had £5 for dinner, what would you buy?’
‘Some flatbreads, and I’d have them with chickpeas and rosemary and a lovely green salad. If I had money left, I’d try to get a lovely fresh mackerel fillet'”
-Darina Allen, interviewed in The Sunday Times
I don’t normally bother making bread which needs to be kneaded (see no-knead bread) but these flatbreads are so simple, it’s like falling off a log! In any case, this dough doesn’t need to be kneaded so much as just ‘formed’ for a couple of minutes.
You can prepare these flatbreads ahead of time, even rolling them out. But lay them down separately – if you let them overlap on a plate for example, they will stick to each other and be fiddly to separate. The dough will keep in a lump for a day or so, covered with clingfilm or a damp cloth.
As an alternative to incorporating the sumac into the dough, you can infuse the oil you use for brushing with it.
Serve with all kinds of middle-eastern and Arabic dishes – meatballs, tagines, kebabs….with fish and a salad…fabulous with Red Leaf and Green Cucumber Salad With A Summery Hummous Sauce.
You can vary these flatbreads, cooking them gently until they are still soft… or, more viciously they are charred and a bit crispy.
And we discovered another variation recently when Tried and Supplied founder, Domini Hogg, and I were carrying out some ‘industry research’ in the Bahraini restaurant Villa Mamas. To keep us going until our ‘mains’ came we had Bahraini flatbreads, Khubus, and these were served with Za’atar-infused brushing oil (add two tablespoons to the half cup of brushing oil) and black and white sesame seeds.
Recipe for Simple Sumac Flatbreads
- 360g/3 cups plain flour
- ½ tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp cooking salt
- 1 tsp smoked salt, or Maldon salt – something with a good texture.
- 2 tsp sumac
- 1 tbsp olive oil plus quite a bit more for brushing – maybe 120ml/½ cup
- 180 ml/¾ cup cold water… or a little more…add a teaspoon at a time… you don’t want the dough to get too wet
- if you have any you could try sprinkling over some nigella seeds for a musky, oniony sort of taste
- In a medium-sized bowl mix the flour, baking powder, cooking salt, sumac, the water and a tbsp olive oil – initially with a spoon, then with your hands. If it seems really too stiff to stay together as a ball add water cautiously – one tablespoon at a time.
- Knead it (or, as I say above, more just ‘form’ it into a ball) on a floured surface to get it smooth (three or four minutes, max).
- Return to the bowl and cover with a damp cloth, or cling film. Set aside for about ten minutes (or you can make the dough some hours, or even the day, before).
- Divide it into eight, and roll out as thinly as you can, just a couple of mm.
- Get your ribbed griddle (or if you don’t have one, use a big frying pan) oiled and hot.
- Brush the first flatbread with olive oil, and put it, brushed side down, on the griddle. Cook a minute or two – until the bread begins to bubble and brown (if get them just a little charred they will be crispy) – and then turn. Brush with more oil, and sprinkle over some textured salt, and, if you are using, some nigella seeds.
- Serve immediately, or wrap in clean tea towels and keep warm for up to ten minutes.
Music to cook to as you don’t knead
Bread sings I Want To Make It With You