This is a treat we all love and it is so easy I don’t know why we don’t have it more often. The KitchenAid mixer is the hero of this piece. Every couple of weeks Amanda grinds a gallon of spelt (freshly ground spelt is amazing for baking) using an attachment for the KitchenAid. Then I use the KitchenAid for mixing up and kneading the bread dough. Working on such a small scale took some adjusting. I used to have a double commercial oven, turning out twelve loaves of bread at a time. Now I am down to two loaves at a time, but the mixer does all the work. The mixer makes the flat bread so easy. My little friend on the counter just chugs away while I do other kitchen chores.
For cooking the flatbread, I prefer the griddle on the stove top. Two large iron skillets will work as well. I have read flatbread instructions that send the formed breads into the oven for baking. That is fine if you like a cracker bread. You will have a softer bread on the griddle or skillet. I would love to have one of those flatbread cookers that has moveable wheels and an open flame. They are fascinating to watch.
When it comes time to do the cooking, it happens so fast that it helps to have two people work it. I roll the bread. Amanda picks it up, puts it on the griddle, turns it, and returns it to me. I am still rolling bread but I take time to brush the freshly baked flatbread with extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkling of zaatar. It is a dance – a brief one!
This recipe makes 8 pieces of flatbread. I usually double the recipe. Leftovers can be warmed up in a bit of butter in a heavy iron skillet.
I would not try this recipe with store-bought whole wheat flour. Spelt makes a lighter bread and fresh grinding the flour may add to the lightness as well. It certainly adds to the flavor. If you do not have fresh ground spelt, you may want to replace some of the whole spelt flour with all-purpose flour.
- 1 tablespoon baker’s yeast
- 3/4 cup warm water
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 3/4 cups spelt flour
- All purpose flour for kneading
- Oil for the bowl
- Olive oil and zaatar for serving (optional)
- Warm up the mixing bowl by swirling hot water in it. If it’s summer, you may be able to skip this step.
- Pour the 3/4 cup warm water into the bowl. This water should be about body temperature or a degree warmer. Get it too hot and it will kill the yeast.
- Sprinkle the sugar into the water and give a little stir.
- Sprinkle the yeast on the water and give a little stir. Leave it alone for about five minutes. When the yeasted water starts looking a little bubbly, you are ready to proceed.
- Set the bowl in place on the mixer stand with the regular mixing paddle inserted.
- With the mixing speed on low, slowly add the spelt until the dough is too much for the paddle. Switch to the dough hook. At this point the dough comes off the paddle easily so this is no big deal.
- Add spelt flour until a nice mound of dough forms. I can’t quite call it a ball at this point. The dough is soft and should not be taxing the motor on your mixer. Stop adding flour and let the dough hook knead the mound for a good five minutes. This kneading gives the texture you want for flatbread.
- Place the plop of dough on a floured surface. I use all-purpose flour for this finishing. Flour your hands and knead the dough for a couple of minutes. Knead in just enough flour to make the dough manageable. This is a soft dough.
- Place the ball of dough in an oiled bowl. The oil is necessary to keep the dough from sticking to the sides of the bowl as the dough rises.
- Cover the bowl with a clean towel and set in a warm place to rise until it has doubled in size. Depending on the temperature in your kitchen, this could take up to an hour.
- After the dough has risen, punch it down and put it back on the floured surface. Knead for a moment or two then pull it apart into eight balls.
- Roll the balls of dough as you would pie crust or tortillas. Mine are still fairly free-form. It takes a lot of practice to get a circle. No one around here cares, fortunately.
- Bake on a hot griddle, much like pancakes. Do not try to smash them down with a spatula — it will mess up the texture. Watch for bubbles forming on the top. As soon as they do (about 2 minutes), flip the breads over for another minute of baking. Avoid the temptation to smash them.
- If you are going to add the olive oil and zaatar, do it as soon as the bread comes off the griddle so that the olive oil sinks in and the zaatar sticks.
Flatbread is at its peak when first baked. If you have any left over (lucky you!), then store them in an airtight container.
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