A Flatbread is bread made by rolling out dough and baking it over a hot unenclosed griddle. The bread dough is typically unleavened made out of flour, water and salt. Further it is shaped into small balls rolling out each ball completely to be flattened. Most of the flatbread recipes do not employ the leavening process. The dough could be made by not adding yeast or sourdough culture with a few exceptions such as pita bread where yeast is incorporated. Optional ingredients added to flatbread recipes can be many including curry powder, diced jalapeños, chilli powder or black pepper. Cooking oils such as olive oil or sesame oil can be included as well. Flatbreads can be between one millimetre and few centimetres in thickness.
History of Flatbread
Flatbread was already known in Ancient Egypt and Sumer. Pita bread is believed to be the oldest versatile flatbread from the middle-east. The foodtimeline.org website reveals that during third-century in Madedonia, a flat loaf of bread was used as a plate for meat. In Turkey a function was performed in which flatbread was a ritualistic food. Ancient flatbread recipes include the pita of Greece and Bulgaria, the pizza of southern Italy and the 'trencher' of medieval Europe.
Ingredients Used and Popular Methods of Preparation in Flatbread Recipe
Flatbread made in a basic flatbread recipe normally incorporates a flour in major proportion, water or liquid such as milk to be mixed with the flour to bring it to the consistency of a dough, a little oil or fat so that the dough does not get sticky, and salt or sugar. The flour commonly used to make the flatbread dough can be whole wheat flour, rye, cornmeal, rice flour, etc. Other optional ingredients such as eggs, flavourings, spices and herbs may be incorporated. Sometimes leafy vegetables such as fenugreek and spinach can also be mixed into the dough. The ingredients can be mixed in a bowl with the hand or using a spatula. The dough can either be mixed in a mechanical dough mixer or a food processor. The thickness of the dough is a major factor that determines the quality of the flatbread. Typically it should be between medium-hard to soft. Supple dough results in a tender flatbread. The thus mixed dough is split into balls and each ball is rolled out flatly using a rolling pin and a rolling board. The rolled dough is baked on a heated griddle to make the flatbread. Flatbreads can also be cooked inside a brick oven or a tandoor. Little oil or fat are also added across the griddle sometimes while baking the flatbread. In India, puri is a flatbread that is deep-fried in oil and had with spicy curries.
Serving and Eating Flatbread
Flatbread recipes are varied and widespread across cultures and regions in the world. Flatbreads are generally served with side dishes such as stews, curries, sauces, gravies, etc. Flatbreads such as tortillas may be further used to make dishes such as tacos and sandwiches. Quite a few of the flatbreads are purposed for use as cups or to serve as eating bowls for scraping out foods from a common serving dish. They can also be folded or turned around foods, packed like sandwiches or had plain.
Popular Flatbread Recipe Variations
- Flatbread is also associated with religious beliefs such as Judaism. Matzo is a classical instance of an unleavened flatbread in Judaism and it is conventionally made like a rectangular brittle biscuit.
- Unleavened bread is made use of in the Western Christian practices for celebration known as the Eucharist.
- Canon Law of the Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic Church authorizes the inclusion of unleavened bread for the Host, and unleavened wafers for the communion of the faithful. Flatbread recipes are popular across Asia and especially in India where it is the staple food had in the Northern region.
- The Indian flatbread recipe of the dough comprises of whole wheat flour, water and a little salt. The different variations of flatbread include chapati, injera, pizza, pita, cracker bread, lavash, puri, barbari, pancake, arepas, and naan.
Health and Nutrition Facts of Flatbread
Generally flatbread is rich in carbohydrate which is the energy giver for the body. The flour used in the flatbread is the major contributor of nutrition. Flours made of whole-wheat, cornmeal, rye and oatmeal are rich in fibre. Further nutrition can come from the addition of ingredients such including eggs and milk which is the source of protein, herbs and leaves such as spinach and lettuce that yield iron in flatbread recipes.
Miscellaneous Facts About Flatbread
- Flatbread is commonly made across homes in the world.
- They can also be made in bakeries and sold.
- Nowadays, flatbreads are available in supermarkets that can be brought home and heated for being eaten.
- Flatbread dough can be mixed and refrigerated for use for a week.