I’m back to doing what I love most: baking bread. My sourdough experiment is an ongoing effort (I’m on try 3 now and thankfully they’re getting a little better each time), but whilst that’s a long drawn out process, I wanted to whip up some nice and quick flatbreads to go with a Middle Eastern mezze I was making.
My friend, a fellow food fiend, had let me borrow Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi, an amazing cookbook full of the diverse dishes of Jerusalem. I had picked out a few dishes to make for our weekend feast: burnt aubergine (basically baba ganoush), stuffed onions, fried cauliflower and tahini, hummus, and tabbouleh. I wanted to make everything in the book, but I’m only one woman! Flatbreads were essential for this, so I turned to my new bread cookbook from Bread Ahead and started making lavash.
A simple, soft, and thin flatbread, lavash are often used as wraps but are also perfect for dipping. The recipe sounded so simple – mix ingredients, rest for 30 minutes, then cook – but things went a little bit wrong when I started to shape them. The recipe said to make them as thin as possible, but the dough was so sticky that I ended up making big holes in the dough as I transferred from my worktop to the baking stone (via a paddle). I’m not sure how useful a big hole is in a flatbread – maybe as a little food window in a wrap!
I then moved on to the pita bread (in between the rest of the food prep) using an Ottolenghi recipe from his Guardian column. This was a much more familiar dough style and was a lot easier to handle. All the way through I was sure that they’d just come out as crispy, round flatbreads, but I was amazed when they puffed up in the oven and turned into soft pillowy mounds. They had the classic “pocket” and tasted so good. They reminded me a bit of my naan bread experience, but they were so much better. I will without a doubt be making them again.
I was so impressed with the pita, that the lavash took a bit of a back seat. There was nothing wrong with them (except the many holes), but they didn’t wow me. On the other hand, I now can’t imagine my life without these pita bread again. So soft and fluffy! They were perfect piled high with hummus or stuffed with tabbouleh, and something I’m so impressed with myself for making.
My feast was perfect by the way. 5 hours in the kitchen, but worth every second. I could eat this food forever, which is lucky really as I have a fridge full of leftovers.