Notes to a Flatbread

A few notes on “Short and Sweet” Olive Oil and Potato Flatbread

….. for when I bake it next time. Here’s my original post.

1. Don’t squeeze the water out of the grated potato. You’re not making rösti; you’re trying to make flatbread, which apparently needs a sloppy, gloopy dough. Mine was nowhere near sloppy enough. I could fold it, and flip it, and turn it without using my red plastic dough scraper-upper.

2. Keep stretching the dough until it completely fills every corner of the baking sheet. If it springs back into a pillow shape when you turn your back on it, give the little blighter a 10-minute time-out, and then stretch, stretch, stretch again. I’m told that a proper telling-off and a 10-minute time-out works wonders. When it comes to bread, I’m a ‘tough-love’ advocate.

3. Everyone used to think that the world was flat, but it also turned out to be round. Maybe everyone’s just looking at their flatbreads from the wrong angle.

4. Thanks to my bread oracle, Zeb Bakes, for her helpful suggestions on how to avoid bulbous flatbread in the future.

And finally, here’s a poem I wrote to my voluptuously plump flatbread yesterday for NovPAD Challenge. The phrase prompt was “Sort of”.

Sort of Flatbread

It’s a special sort of kneading, I’m told.
A blanket fold, done in thirds, I’ve heard.
Your worktop and your hands well oiled,
stretching dough out so it’ll spring and recoil,
and then oil the sides so it won’t stick,
nifty I thought, I shall remember that trick.
Popped the dough in the oven,
Olive Oil Flatbread, the recipe read.
But the dough kept rising and rising.
A billowy, pillowy flatbread I’d made.
But is it flatbread?
Well sort of, I said.

14 Comments Add yours

  1. I like notes like this – it’s the sort of thing that I try to record in my baking notebook so that I remember what to do next time (like which combination of baking tin/sheet, the temperature, time, etc.). Occasionally I forget to make the notes or I fail to consult them when I bake it again but I aspire to do this.

    Fingers crossed for my attempt later today.

    1. Misk Cooks says:

      I’m a champ note-taker; I have a brain like Teflon and a memory like a sieve.

      I’m sure your flatbread will be lovely. Joanna’s offered some useful tips for my next attempt. Not sure that I’ll make it before the deadline though.

  2. Joanna says:

    And the rosti post ? I make rubbish rosti …… hint hint 🙂 Thanks for the compliments once more, my head needs stretching out to every corner of the tin otherwise I won’t get it through the door …. 😉

    1. Misk Cooks says:

      Do you use a cast iron pan for making your rösti? Never use Teflon for it because it can’t hold enough heat. And use artery-clogging animal fat, goose, duck, or lard for frying it. Butter burns too fast or oil just causes it all to boil. Soak the grated potato in ice water, and then squeeze and pat dry just before frying. I often put the grated potato in a tea towel, go outside and twirl it around to ‘fling’ the moisture off.

      1. Joanna says:

        Do you bind it with anything, flour/egg/milk ? I used to make a Delia Smith one, with apple mixed in that she did in the oven, but they are not right, they come out dry and soft, not crispy and animal fa rich as they should be.

        1. Misk Cooks says:

          I don’t use anything to bind it. If potatoes are leftover (cooked), grate and place at an even thickness in well-greased, medium-hot pan. Season with salt and pepper, and fry for 2-3 minutes until golden. Slide on to a plate and flip over, continue frying until that side’s also golden. You can also do it with raw grated potatoes (floury is best), grate into water so they don’t oxidise and turn brown (and it also removes excess starch that can make rösti stodgy). Drain, pat dry with kitchen towel, fry at lower heat (med-low) with lid clapped on tight until potatoes are cooked through. When cooked, turn up heat to brown.

  3. hi Misk – easier to reply here than on twitter!

    Firstly have a look at my step by step post on flatbread which is based on Dan’s Handmade Loaf recipe here:
    You’ll see how much I’ve stretched the dough after folding to fit all of the baking tray.

    Be gentle with the dough to maintain as much as the “big” airy bubbles as possible up until the stage you want to dimple the bread. At that point when using fingers or knuckes to dimple you can be more forceful and as you go all the way down through the dough to touch the bottom of it with your fingers stretch it out – sort of gentle but purposely as you do it.

    This is easier to see rather than explain. On my post there is a video clip of an Italian cook making flat bread with Gary Rhodes watch it at the point he creates the dimples then you’ll see what I mean…just skip to the end of video.

    The first thing is to get the dough pretty flat and if you’ve been gentle with it and not knocked out too many of the big airy bubbles up until that point you’ll still get some in the end dough. These type of doughs, Dan is well known for, folds etc, is also referred to as ‘unripe’ dough, but that’s just by the way.

    Once you’ve done the dimples, you’ll still more than likely need to come back after 10mins and put your oiled fingers under the dough and stretch the dough some more to try and fit the tray. You may have to do this a couple of times, rest 5-10mins and gently stretch the dough to fit.

    The reason it’s important to rest and go back is because it gives the gluten a chance to relax and making easier to stretch again. This is a technique used for all sorts of shaping especially with baguettes when using again this type of “unripe” dough but it’s also a technique used when faced with a particular type of flour with the characteristics you have “springy”.

    OK I’ll post this now and then will post the bit about your flour now I know what flour you used.

  4. Ok – Your flour! I’ve just checked the sainsbury site and if it’s the same one you used this 00 pasta flour

    then the protein on it is only 11.5% which is low and that’s what I would expect in a pasta flour since we don’t really want “bouncy” pasta. So that flour is fine, should not cause you any of the rising problems you had (on top of not stretching wide enough).

    The other flour you used was Canadian Waitrose (very different to Canadian Sainsbury by the way, didn’t like Sainsbury one). This is where I think you had the added problem with the bounce/rise of your dough.

    Waitrose Canadian is 15% protein very high, similar on protein to Sainsbury BUT completely different in feel/absorption/baking. I like using Waitrose Canadian for my bagels. I thought you used that flour when you first started to bake because going by the very “round” shaped loaves you were making I suspected it was that sort of flour, I had the same shapes when I started out baking using the Waitrose Canadian, it gives you a huge “oven spring”.

    Your added problem is this flour, it absorbs a lot of water, I know this from experience as well as ‘normally’ high protein flours absorb more (normally but exceptions to the rule). The other thing is this flour has tendency as I’ve said big oven-spring.

    My advice if using this flour again is cut back on the yeast by a quarter of a spoon. And to increase your water by at least 20grms and make the dough “slacker”. Seeing the photo of it on the tray it is standing too proud and tight appearing ‘dryer’ than I would expect to see it.

    The other thing you can do is change the Waitrose Canadian for another, Waitrose do 2 other bread flours one from their own brand and one an organic, I think you’ll feel the difference then.

    Hope this helps. Now I need to go and bake some bread!


    1. Misk Cooks says:

      It helps enormously, Az, and I’m just bowled-over by all the info and experience that you’ve shared with me here. I have no doubt that it will help in my next attempt at Dan’s flatbread, and I hope that it helps other home-bakers making this recipe. Shared experience is such a treasure.

      Did you see how that Italian cook flattened his dough with a rolling pin?

      I have studied your photos and comments on your blog, and certainly my dough needs more water, which I’ll do. I’ll reduce the yeast a bit also. I’ll let you know how it goes! Thanks again!

    2. Joanna says:

      I use (when I buy their flour) the organic strong bread flour, has a dark blue bottom colour strip and that is a nice everyday bread flour. I do buy the Very Strong Canadian for bouncy buns and breads but usually mix it in with the other one for white breads but is very useful for mixing with rye depending on what you are trying to achieve. Hamelman uses high gluten/Very Strong is quite a few of his bread formulae in that way. 🙂

      1. Misk Cooks says:

        The flour you’re referring to is from Waitrose or Sainsbury’s? I might start mixing the two flours in the future to see what happens. 🙂

        1. Joanna says:

          Waitrose. Confess have never bought flour in Sainsbury. It’s not very near where I live.

          1. Misk Cooks says:

            My nearest Waitrose is in Horley (where Carl used to live), and that’s about 10-miles from my house. Not a great distance but both Tesco and Sainsbury’s are much closer. We also have an ASDA nearby but I’ve never been there. I might start stocking up on Waitrose flour when we’re in Horley. 🙂

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