We have been to Turkey the last two years in September, and really enjoyed the turkish flatbread, so I wanted to be able to bake it at home.
I found a recipe in a Middle Eastern cook book that seemed to work pretty well, and then found another similar recipe with a tweak that has made it even better.
(By the way, if I put up a link to a book, I’ll try to direct you to Hive, who support local independent shops, even though they are an online shop). Here’s the Link: Levant
Here’s my recipe
500 g flour – I use the basic white bread flour from Lidl or Aldi.
50 ml of olive Oil – seems a lot, but it works
2 tsp Mahlab – not sure exactly what Mahlab is, but it addes a distinctive flavour. You could leave it out if you can’t find it. We have it in some of our Asian / Middle Eastern supermarkets.
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar (ordinary white)
375 ml water
1 Tbsp (15g) yeast. Seems a lot, but it works. You could try with less I guess.
Now – a disclaimer. I’m not a regular baker, so I speak as someone with no experience or training.
But this is how I do it.
Get 150 ml of the water at about 90 degrees F. I don’t have a thermometer, and I’ve looked to see how you get the right temperature, and the conclusion is warm, but not hot ! You can do this initial bit in a 1 Litre measuring jug or similar.
(I’m still trying to work out how to use the minimum number of bowls to keep the washing up down, but I’m not there yet).
Add the yeast and the sugar and stir a bit. Leave for about 10 minutes until its getting frothy.
After the 10 minutes are up, get 90g of the flour in a bowl and add the yeast/water/sugar mixture. Leave this for abut 30 minutes in a warm place. If you have a sunny spot in the kitchen, that’s perfect. Or boil up some water in an oven dish, and place it on the bottom shelf of the oven, and pop the flour mixture in the middle of the oven.
When the flour mixture is beginning to show signs of activity by getting a bit frothy, you can get the rest of the ingredients ready in a large bowl. I have just discovered that the tub we bought with fatballs for the birds is ideal. Into your bowl go the rest of the flour – 410g, the salt, the mahlab, and the rest of the water (225 ml). Leave the olive oil for now.
So, now you’re going to add the (hopefully) frothy flour/water/yeast etc to the rest of the flour and mix it all up with a spoon until all the dry flour is incorporated into the mix. Now the olive oil comes into its own, because it’s going to help your hands not to get too sticky. Hold the bowl with one hand and mix the flour with the other. Basically, get your hand under the dough, lift it up and then fold it over. You can do all of this in the bowl. You don’t ‘need to knead’, and get everywhere messy with loads of flour all over the place.
Have the olive oil in a small bowl, and put your fingers into the olive oil and then do the lift and fold again with the dough. Do this say 4 or five times, turning the bowl around 90 degrees each time, and getting the olive oil into the mix with your hand. You should find that your hand is a bit sticky to begin with, but as you get the olive oil into the dough, your hands get less sticky. it takes a while to get used to this bit.
Now you need to leave the dough to prove/rise for about an hour or so. Then I do a repeat of the lift and fold and turn that I did before. I also use a technique from Ken Forkish that he demonstrates in one of his teaching videos. Basically, he squeezes the dough tightly a few times for each lift and fold.
You can see him doing it here – it’s just a short video – Ken Forkish – Mixing by Hand
After about four or five of the ‘lift, fold & squeeze,’ I let the dough rest for another 20-30 minutes, and then repeat the lift, fold and squeeze a few times.
I’m going to bake this as a flatbread, so at this point, I’m going to shape the dough into a long oval shape, about 35 cm long. I use a baking tray with a reusable lining sheet. (I get them from Lakeland in the UK)
(I sometimes use a 2lb loaf tin to get a more traditional loaf look).
To get a nice finish I use an eggwash by beating up one egg with a tiny bit of milk. You’ll have some egg left over – why not keep it overnight, and add another egg and have some scrambled egg for breakfast.
I might also make a few indentations here and there and add some sesame seeds.
Once I’ve shaped the flatbread, I’ll leave it out in the warm for maybe another 10-20 minutes, and then pop it in the oven at about 220 C for around 20 minutes.
Here it is … as you can see, I can’t resist starting to eat it already. You can add other stuff into the mix if you like – I put some za’atar spice in a couple of times, and that’s nice.
As I said earlier, I am a novice, but I’ve done this loaf a few times now, and I seem to be able to get a good result each time. Have fun, and let me know how you get on.