I use some of the techniques from the Not-so-quick Rajanthanu flatbreads which are stuffed with cilantro, garam masala… They take forever, and don’t puff up like a balloon, which makes these fun. You can definitely make a batch of 8 in under an hour.
I adapted several flatbread recipes from this amazing book, Flatbreads and Flavors by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Dugid, which is also the book I adapted the salt and spice bread from. Excellent book.
For these, what intrigued me was their technique of how to get a flatbread to puff up (or not if you are trying not to achieve that,) and for these, I want them very puffy.
Basically the proportions are 2:1 flour to kefir (yes, you can use yogurt,) and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, and 1/2 heaping teaspoon real salt. This makes a batch of eight breads. For 16, you use 4 cups flour, 2 cups kefir, one teaspoon salt, and one teaspoon baking soda. (or half the recipe and just make four, which is not very daunting at all.)
I always have lots of kefir in my refrigerator, which lasts for many, many months, but never yogurt.
“No offense, mama, but your yogurt is nothing like Kelli’s.” hmmm. Kelli, can I have a LIVE lesson please?
(So, Goosey, here you go. I hope this makes more sense than just my email instructions.)
Two cups flour in a bowl, add 1/2 heaping tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. baking soda. Stir well.
Make a well and pour in one cup kefir (or yogurt) the more sour the kefir, the better tasting.
Turn the bowl as you stir from the outer edges, as the dough will be quite sticky.
Turn the ball out onto a well floured surface and knead for 10 full minutes. You will have to continue to dust the ball and your surface, and hands, with flour.
The dough will be soft and elastic, but still very moist.
I flour the same bowl and let the dough ball rest for at least 10 minutes, up to a couple of hours is also fine. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap to keep in the moisture.
now you can take a break and get some weeding done, or not.
Turn the dough out and roll it gently into a log, cut the log in half. Cut each half in half, then cut those in half for 8 pieces. It is nice if the pieces are pretty equal, but don’t turn them over, or fool with them to make them round or anything.
Flour a baking dish and place the pieces in, same side up, and cover with plastic wrap to keep in the moisture. If you are making these for lunch or dinner, you can do this step and let them rest for an hour or two before you cook them, and that is easier, but you don’t have to rest them at this point.
Now for the part where you really have to pay attention (not to me, but when you are rolling them out and cooking them, do it when you don’t have any other distractions, even brief ones. It helps if you are not trying to take pictures at the same time.)
Turn your burner on high, wipe a cast iron pan with coconut oil.
Keep the coconut oil and papertowel right by the stove. Grease the pan between cooking each bread.
Take one piece of dough and roll it out as thin as you can. Do not turn the dough over. It helps to keep the dough sliding in a circle with your left hand and roll thinner with your rolling pin in your right hand. You might have to lightly flour the rolling surface and/or rolling pin from time to time.
It is kind of tricky to find the right balance of rolling them out and cooking them, but you will get the hang of it. You will have to roll one out as thin as possible, then push it aside, and roll another one or two out. Then go back to the first one, and while it has rested a bit, you can roll it out again and get it much thinner. (The one on the right has been rolled out a second time.) Make sure you do not turn it over, but only roll out with the same side up.
Now you can begin cooking one, and your pan is smoking by now.
Pick up the thin dough, and plop it in the pan FACE DOWN.
Keep a close eye on it and turn it after only 10 seconds.
Now you will watch for small pockets of air to begin forming.
When this happens (maybe 15 seconds) then turn it over again.
Those air pockets will make the bread balloon. Sometimes you have to gently help the air bubble along by pressing an edge.
Then it will fully balloon up.
(Now you can use this time to keep rolling out your doughs. I try to have three rolled out and resting as I cook.)
Turn it over again and let the other side cook, as the steam inside the pocket will cook it as well.
And turn it again.
Cool on wire racks. They are not as good if you stack them as you cook to keep them warm. Try and put a hot one right away on his plate, and you might find that, “Good Grief!” is a compliment from a hungry man.
They freeze very well, and are best reheated. If you have some frozen, and the man comes home very late, then heat the oven, put anything you have handy on top (sundried tomatoes, pesto, herbs, cheese, meat…) and you have some mighty quick pizzas.
If you let yourself get distracted, and they don’t puff up, they are still delicious.