Is it Indian? Israeli? Italian? All of the above. With a dough this universal, Basic Yeasted Flatbread passes for all sorts of nationalities. It scoops up curry just like naan, dips into hummus like pita, and doubles as perfect pizza dough. Soft, chewy and heavenly when served warm from the griddle, it reminds us why we love our daily bread.
This recipephany came from Mollie Katzen, a hero ever since her 1977 Moosewood Cookbook. In Sunlight Cafe: Breakfast Served All Day, she confessed her special relationship with this flatbread. She always had dough in the fridge, and made flatbreads all hours of the day. And we can see why—it has proved itself a loyal friend over the years. We throw the dough together quickly (either in the food processor or by hand) and forget about it while it rises. It waits patiently when stored in the fridge. It’s ready to roll whenever we’re ready. And even if we rush and it comes out odd-shaped, nobody cares because it has so much character and tastes so good.
So before you buy packaged flatbread or refrigerated pizza dough, give this a whirl. And you may find yourself a new friend, too.
Basic Yeasted Flatbread
Adapted from Mollie Katzen’s Sunlight Café (2002)
Makes 6 flatbreads
- 2¼ cups unbleached all-purpose or bread flour, plus more for handling the dough
- 1¼ teaspoons instant yeast (SAF Instant Yeast or Red Star Quick-Rise Yeast)
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- Dash of honey or maple syrup
- 1 cup water
- 1 tablespoon olive oil (plus extra for brushing the breads)
- Olive oil for the griddle
- Mix dough with food processor or by hand.
Using food processor:
Put flour, yeast, salt and dash of honey or maple syrup into the food processor. Whir to combine. Restart processor and add water and oil. Process until dough comes together and just releases from the inside of the bowl, adding a little more flour as necessary. (Do not run too long, as it can heat up the dough.) Dough should be very stretchy and soft. Add a little flour to help release the dough from the processor and turn it out onto the counter. Knead briefly, form into a ball, and put into a lightly oiled bowl, rolling the dough around to lightly coat it.
Combine flour, yeast, salt and dash of honey or maple syrup in a bowl. Add water and oil and, using a dough whisk (preferred) or wooden spoon, mix well. Pull the dough around and over itself until it gets very stretchy. Lightly flour your hands and knead the dough, still in the bowl, for a minute or two, or until the dough gets smooth yet still stretchy. It will be quite soft. Form it into a ball, add a little oil to the side of the bowl, then rotate the dough until it is lightly coated.
- Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place about 1½ hours, or until doubled.
- After rising, punch down dough. Turn it out onto a floured work surface. (At this point, you can store dough in a lightly oiled plastic bag or bowl covered with plastic wrap in the fridge for up to 3 or 4 days.)
- Cut the dough into 6 pieces, then briefly shape each into a ball. Let balls rest 5 minutes.
- Flour a rolling pin and the work surface, and roll each into a very thin circle about 7 inches in diameter. To get it round, it helps to let the dough stick just a little to the work surface so that it doesn’t spring back and holds its shape while you roll it into a circle.
- Lay a flatbread on an oiled hot griddle and cook about a minute, or until golden spots appear on the bottom surface. Brush with a little olive oil, turn the bread over, and cook for about 30 seconds. The griddle should be very hot, but watch that the breads don’t burn. Lower heat accordingly. Repeat for all breads.
- Stack flatbreads on a plate and cover with a towel before serving. Serve hot or warm. Baked flatbreads freeze well.
Makes 2 pizzas, about 12″ each
- Use Basic Yeasted Flatbread ingredients above and follow steps 1-3 for mixing and rising.
- Heat a pizza stone in the oven at about 500° (or heat it on a grill) for at least a half hour.
- Cut the dough into 2 pieces, and briefly shape them into balls. Let balls rest 5 minutes.
- Roll out each ball to make about a pizza, feeling free to use lots of flour. It may require letting dough rest again so it stretches better.
- Dust pizza paddle (or pizza pan) liberally with flour. Place dough on prepared paddle or pan, then add desired sauce, cheese, and toppings. Work quickly so the dough doesn’t stick.
- Slide dough (or pan holding dough) onto the heated pizza stone in the oven or (just the dough) onto the grill. Bake until crust is brown. It should take about 10 minutes, but watch to make sure it doesn’t burn.