Hi everybody, it’s Christine here with a special edition of Sweet-Tooth Friday. Today we’re going to look at the flipside of the baking world and make our own bread.
Don’t panic though — in this foolproof recipe there’s no yeast, no kneading, and no lengthy rising times. And I promise, this flatbread recipe will bring just as many cheers to the table as any dessert!
Even though Sweet-Tooth Friday is supposed to be, well, sweet, this week I wanted to instead share a staple recipe in my repertoire, something I bake probably twice a month at home. When I was making a batch of flatbread this week to go with some homemade hummus, I realized that if I found this recipe to be so useful, maybe you guys would appreciate it too. Then I couldn’t believe I kept it to myself for so long!
It all started with the quest to make authentic naan at home. Over the past two years I have tried recipes with yeast, both quick rises and overnight. I tried recipes made with yogurt, made with eggs, and made with ghee. I tried recipes cooked on a stovetop skillet, I played with focaccia recipes, and I even tried passing plain pizza dough off as the Indian classic.
All of these were pretty time-consuming and deep down I wanted something weeknight-whip-up-able. I might have been willing to compromise if any of the tastes had been a real homerun, but I was starting to think I needed to build a clay tandoor oven to actually get it right.
On top of all this, I was searching for a recipe without animal products. The prices of pita and naan at the grocery store are appalling — I knew it would be possible to bake these at home for just pennies as long as there were no eggs and dairy.
I finally found the simplicity I was looking for without sacrificing a light texture and a nice chew. I’ve been using this formula for awhile and can’t remember where I stumbled on the original. However it’s been through several rounds of my tweeks by now so probably isn’t too recognizable anymore.
Even though it’s not exactly authentic naan, I use some whole wheat flour to let myself be more comfortable eating the bread on a regular basis. I also use canola oil as a healthy alternative to shortening or ghee. I bake mine in a cast-iron skillet in the oven. If you don’t have cast iron I would suggest a baking stone first, and finally a cookie sheet.
Vegan Flatbread Recipe
- 2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 tbs salt
- 2 tsp baking powder
- pinch of baking soda
- 3 tbs canola oil
- 1 cup cold water
- Extra flour for dusting
- Optional: chopped fresh cilantro, 1 clove chopped garlic
Preheat the oven with pan inside to 400 degrees.
Put ice in the water to really get it cold while you prepare the ingredients.
Mix together the flours, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.
Stir in the canola oil until uniformly distributed. If you want, stir in garlic or handful of chopped cilantro to taste, but it is just fine served plain.
Measure one cup of water (don’t use the ice) and stir into mixture until the dough becomes one ball.
On a clean countertop or smooth cutting board, spread out a nice handful of flour. Coat your hands with the flour and place the dough on floured surface. Fold it in half just a few times so it is easy to work with and not sticky. Divide the dough into 8 roughly equal balls. (Divide the dough in half, then each half in half, then each of those halves in half.) Add some more flour to the surface if you need to, then take one ball and smoosh it with your palm. Rub some flour on your rolling pin, then roll the dough until it is about a 6 to 8 inch circle. Usually half way during rolling, I pick the circle up and flip it over to make sure it isn’t sticking. If the dough is snapping right back, just put the circle to the side and start with a new ball.
When all the balls are rolled into flat discs, redust your surface with flour and further roll out the ones that were not cooperating. They should behave after their time-out. I like to roll them all a second time to get them pretty thin, to almost 9-10 inches in diameter.
Carefully place a disk of dough into the pan in the oven. I didn’t have to grease my cast-iron pan because it is seasoned. Bake for 3 minutes, then remove with tongs. It should have several blistery bubbles. If you are using a ridged pan, the ridges should be indented and the rest of the dough slightly puffy. If you want a very flat bread like the triangles pictured, flip the disk over using tongs after a minute and a half of baking.
Repeat with the remaining disks.
So that’s it! Easy-peezy, cheap, and quick! Once you get the hang of it, it only takes about 10-15 minutes to mix the dough and roll out the circles. The total baking time for all 8 pieces is 24 minutes (unless you have two pans going), so I try to plan and use that time for chopping veggies or cleaning up the dishes.
This recipe is super versatile. I’ve served it as naan to go with Matt’s sweet-potato and chickpea curry, as the pita-like dipping vehicle for black bean hummus, and even as a Taco Bell “Gordita” style tortilla with bean tacos. It’s also an excellent addition to “peasant” themed meals.
I hope you find this recipe as useful as I do! There is nothing like being able to bring freshly baked bread to the dinner table. This recipe is definitely a keeper.
I promise next week I’ll put the SWEET back in Sweet-Tooth Friday!