You would not believe how many sourdough starters I have killed, slowly malnourishing them in my refrigerator. I have killed those I started myself, those I was given by friends or my mom, even one I took from a restaurant I worked in. I love bread, especially sourdough, but making a good loaf is so time-consuming that I’d rather just hit a bakery. Flatbreads, though, I make constantly.
If focaccia is “shockingly easy,” these are easier (though you must knead a little, unless you have a mixer). With a loaf of bread, you’re trying to forge some delicate architecture—that perfect crumb!—with gluten and air. Flatbreads, here a sort of pita, do away with this. If the yeast loses some oomph, no worries: You just have a flatter bread. For the below recipe I tend to make a batch and cook them over three days, on the stove or on the grill. Only cook as many as you’ll eat. The freshness is the point. They’re great with hummus or bean puree, or for mopping up all manner of stews.
Basic Leavened Flatbreads
- 350 grams of all-purpose flour (for fun and flavor, substitute 50-100 grams of a different flour, like whole wheat, spelt, or rye)
- 230 milliliters lukewarm water
- 6 grams salt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 teaspoons dry active yeast
- a pinch of sugar
- Mix water, yeast, and sugar. Let sit for 10 minutes, until it foams.
- In a large bowl or mixer, measure salt, flour, and olive oil. Add the yeasted water and mix together until you’ve formed a loose dough ball. Knead a little. Cover with a cloth and let sit for 10 minutes. Knead again on the counter until the dough becomes more elastic, springy, and smooth. Depending on humidity, flour, etc., you can add more water or flour. You want it moist but workable.
- Rub some olive oil around a large bowl. Add the dough ball and cover with a cloth. Let rise for an hour or two, until doubled in size, then transfer to a sealable container for the refrigerator (it should be bigger than the dough, which will keep expanding).
- When ready to cook, heat a cast-iron or nonstick skillet over medium high. Pull a chunk of dough from the mass. Dust it with flour. Roll or stretch it into a decently thin round. Cook with a little oil until richly brown. Flip and repeat.