It’s National Bread Week this week but I’m in the somewhat unusual position of avoiding carbohydrates as far as possible. A Summer (more like a year) of over-indulgence has seen my waist line expand to horrendous levels while my stall selling bread at The Cottage Market in Newbridge has only confounded the problem. As a bit of a challenge, Ali and I have decided to follow the Operation Transformation diet for one week – I can guarantee it will be one week only for me! I’m bloody starving, constantly!
I love bread and make it at least three times per week (except this week, of course). I have some favourites that I make often – white yeast bread, brown soda bread and focaccia are my regulars but there is always a time when something a little bit different is required. A couple of months ago I went through a phase of making falafel, that is until I inadvertently imposed a bout of food poisoning by not boiling the dried beans before making the mix. I have not been able to even look at a recipe for the beautiful, herby nuggets of poison since but on that faithful day there was a silver lining – the flatbread I made to encase them. Although I made it a little thick, it was soft and pillowy with a wonderful flavour and far better than the shop-bought pitta and flatbread I had previously been using.
Adapted from the River Cottage Handbook No.3: Bread, by Daniel Stevens
250g Strong Flour
250g Plain Flour
10g Fine Sea Salt
7g sachet of Dried Yeast
160ml Natural Yoghurt
160ml Warm Water
1 tbsp Extra-Virgin Olive Oil plus extra for drizzling
Add all of the ingredients to the bowl of a food mixer, leaving the yeast and salt at opposite sides. With the dough hook attached, turn the mixer onto the minimum setting. Allow to mix for a couple of minutes until a dough is formed before turning up the speed to medium. Allow to knead for about ten minutes until smooth and silky. You can also knead by hand – form the dough in a large bowl and turn out onto a lightly floured work surface. Knead for 10-15 minutes until the dough is smooth and silky.
Place the dough into a large well oiled bowl and cover the top of the bowl with cling film. Allow to rise in a warm, draught free place until doubled in size.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, deflate and divide into six equal pieces. Shape each piece into a round and then, using plenty of flour, roll each out to a 3-4 mm thickness. Do not stack on top of each other as they will stick together. Leave to rest for 5 to 10 minutes before cooking.
Heat a large, heavy based frying pan over a high heat and turn on your grill to full whack. When the pan is searing hot, lay the first bread onto it. After about one minute the top should be puffy and the bottom beginning to char. Put the pan under the grill (at least 15cm below it) and watch as it balloons towards the heat. The bread is done when it begins to char on the top. Remove from the heat and drizzle with a little olive oil. Serve immediately with dips of your choice.