It happens to me all the time. I have a good idea for dinner, and all the components are in the house, but it sure would be nice to have some kind of bread with it. Something delicious and whole grain. But it’s too late to throw something in the breadmaker, and I’m too lazy to go to the store, so we do without.
But that’s over now, because I found this wonderful recipe from Alice Waters in Food & Wine magazine. In 40 minutes – 30 of those completely hands-off – you can have fresh, hot, 100% whole wheat flatbreads. I really had no idea they could be so simple. There are only five ingredients. You just stir them together, let the resulting dough rest for half an hour, then roll out the little breads and cook them on a hot griddle (or your largest skillet). I cook them on an electric griddle right on the dining table.
The recipe is quite forgiving – I usually quarter it, which makes four flatbreads, just right for two people. It’s a little tough to quarter 3/4 of a cup of water, but I just start with three tablespoons and add more if the dough is too dry. The original recipe called for kneading, but I skip that and it works fine. The dough is also incredibly easy to roll.
Give these a try. They’re fun to make, and there’s something about pulling your own homemade flatbreads off the griddle that rewards you with an almost absurd sense of pride. I like them especially well anywhere you might use naan or pita bread.
Quick and Easy Whole-Wheat Flatbread
Serves: 8 Time: 45 minutes Hands-on: 15 minutes
2 cups whole-wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 cup warm water
Olive oil for brushing, optional
Whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder in a large bowl. Stir in the olive oil, then add the water. Stir with a wooden spoon or other sturdy utensil until the dough comes together, adding more water as necessary to get a cohesive but not too sticky dough. Give a few more good stirs, then cover the bowl with a towel and set aside for 30 minutes or so.
Portion the dough into 16 roughly equal balls. On a lightly floured surface, roll out each ball very thinly, tossing on a little flour if they stick to the rolling pin. Each should be approximately a 6-by-3-inch oval, but don’t fuss about it – rough, uneven shapes are part of their rustic, I-made-my-own-flatbread charm.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat, or bring an electric griddle to 350 degrees. I like these brushed with oil, which is not in the original recipe, and they work great without it as well. If using the oil, brush one side of each bread lightly and place that side on the griddle. (If not, just slap them down.) Grill for about 2 minutes, or until the bread is browning in spots. If oiling, brush the bread with oil. Either way, turn it and cook another two minutes.
Alice Waters says to turn these over an open flame for a minute before serving. I skip this step. But do serve them hot!