Sunday, 17 August 2008

Spiced flatbreads

Just about every time I bake I ask myself the question 'why don't I do this every day?', before vowing that, from this day forth, I shall. And, inevitably, after the two days of enthusiastic bakery I forget about it for a month before doing it all over again. I don't know why, it's just the way it is. Baking is such a peaceful pleasure - tactile, composed and unhurried, the perfect way to spend a rainy afternoon. These flatbreads are extremely easy (as is most baking) and are such an impressive thing to produce for lunch, or as an accompaniment to a curry or even Moroccan feast.

Don't be put off by the 10 minutes kneading (I'm not quite sure why you would be), or by the fact that, at first the dough will seem wet and unmanageable. As you knead you develop the gluten in the flour and the dough becomes springy and elastic. I will not claim to be an expert in baking, however, being very much an amateur every-now-and-again type of guy. A great baking blog is - check it out if you are a keen baker.

Makes 8 slipper sized breads

500g strong white flour
7g sachet dry yeast
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon coriander seeds
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon crushed chillis
350 ml warm water

Lightly crush the coriander, fennel, cumin and chilli in a pestle and mortar and, in a large bowl, mix with the flour, yeast and salt. Make a well in the centre and pour in the water, stirring as you go. When it has come together tip it out onto a lightly floured surface and start working with it with your hands (I find that it actually sticks less if you have wet hands, though is slippery!). Hold the dough with one hand and push it away with the other, fold it back, turn and repeat for 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and springy. Return to your bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave in a warm place for an hour or so, till it has risen in volume considerably. Heat a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. Pull off a small handful of dough, one at a time, and roll thinly into small slippers. Place in the dry pan and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side. Allow to cool before eating, as the bread will continue to cook during this period. They can then be reheated as and when.

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