I never knew how to make flatbread as a young homemaker. At least I thought I did not know until I found that “pizza” crust is considered to be an Italian flatbread. When I was young, I started learning more about bread baking. Back then the goal of homemade bread was to get it light in texture. This was accomplished through the yeast and the “rising” time.
In the 1980’s, I bought some Italian focaccia, another Italian flatbread, at Costco’s bakery. I usually do not buy commercially made bread but I could not resist. It tasted even better than I could have imagined! For some reason they quit making it so I had to learn how to make flatbread especially focaccia.
Since I first learned how to make flatbread I also learned of all the different types. Almost every country in this world has recipes for flat breads. Many countries have several different types. What really surprised me is that our pancakes here in the United States are considered to be flat bread. I always thought of them as simply “pancakes”.
When you learn how to make flatbread you will find they can be made with leavening or without. If leavening is included in the recipe it is usually less (Per cup of flour) than in regular bread. For this reason the bread is heavier and “flatter” than regular bread. Flat bread is usually rolled or pressed thin to bake unlike rising in a loaf pan. In the case of our pancakes, we strive to achieve a light airy texture. This is why I never considered pancakes to be flat bread. We do use flat breads in many of our churches. This unleavened flat bread is a very popular recipe for churches.
As I mentioned, I learned how to make flatbread first from Italy like pizza and focaccia. Italy also has others with the names of piadine and Sardinian pane carasau. Most of us are very familiar with corn and flour tortillas. These flat breads are mainstay in Central and South America. These are easy to make at home and so much better tasting.
Over recent years more flat breads from around the world have become popular here in the United States. I learned how to make flatbread like pita or pocket bread and lavash from the Middle Eastern countries. These breads go so well with some of my favorite recipes.
If you want to learn how to make flatbread from some other countries try naan form India, green onion pancakes from China or matzo crackers for Israel. Russia is famous for their blini pancakes and Germany for pfannkuchen. You can also try crepes from France, Scandinavian crisp bread, Belgium waffles or flatbrod from the Netherlands. In all these you will find many different flavors and textures.
Learn how to make flatbread from Italy.
To make the sponge place 2 cups of flour in a large bowl; make a well in the center of flour.
Dissolve yeast in warm water; pour into the well with the pinch of salt.
With a wooden spoon mix all the flour in until well blended; sprinkle 1 tablespoon of flour over the top.
Cover bowl with dish towel; let sponge set about 1 hour to double in size.
To make dough spread 1 ½ cups of flour out on work surface; place sponge on top of flour.
Add shortening, 2 tablespoons rosemary, salt and pepper; knead until all is incorporated and dough is smooth and elastic.
Using a rolling pin roll dough large enough to fit on jelly roll pan; grease pan with 2 tablespoons olive oil.
Place dough in the pan stretching to reach all sides; sprinkle dough with coarse grain salt and drizzle 4 tablespoons of olive oil.
Mix remaining 2 tablespoons chopped rosemary and garlic with your fingers; push mixture into dough over top.
Prick dough all over with a fork; let rest uncovered to double in bulk about 60 minutes.
PREHEAT OVEN TO 450F degrees.
Bake about 15 to 20 minutes until golden all over; remove from oven and cut.
Drizzle 2 tablespoons olive oil over the top and sprinkle with freshly ground pepper; serve hot.
Learn how to make flatbread from Saudi Arabia.
In large bowl soften yeast in water; add 2 cups of the flour, shortening and salt.
Beat on low speed of mixer for 30 seconds scraping sides of bowl; beat on high speed 3 minutes.
With a spoon mix in as much of the remaining flour as possible.
Turn dough out onto floured surface; knead in enough remaining flour to make a soft smooth elastic dough.
Cover and let dough rest in warm place about 15 minutes.
PREHEAT OVEN TO 450F degrees.
Divide dough into 12 equal parts; roll each with floured hands into smooth ball.
Cover with damp cloth and let rest 10 minutes (KEEP COVERED UNTIL READY TO USE).
On lightly floured surface roll each ball into a 7 inch circle turning over 1 time.
NOTE: Work with enough flour so there is no sticking; do not crease, puncture or stretch dough.
Place 2 at a time on baking sheets; bake about 5 minutes until dough is puffed and light brown.
Repeat with remaining dough baking 1 batch at a time before rolling and baking the next batch.
Slice bread crosswise; fill pocket; makes 12.
NOTE: This flatbread can be stuffed as a pocket pita or folded in a flatbread sandwich.
Learn how to make flatbread from the Middle East.
Combine 2 cups of flour, yeast, sugar and salt in a large bowl.
Stir in water and oil; beat until smooth.
Stir in enough remaining flour to make a soft dough.
Turn out onto a floured work surface; knead in enough flour to make a stiff dough.
Knead until smooth and elastic about 5 minutes.
Place dough in an oiled bowl turning to coat all sides.
Cover and let rise in warm place until double in bulk about 45 minutes.
Punch down dough; divide in half.
Divide each half into 10 equal parts; roll each part into a ball.
Let dough rest 5 minutes; roll balls into 3-4 inch rounds 1/8 inch thickness.
Place rounds on greased baking sheets; cover and let rise 30 minutes.
PREHEAT OVEN TO 450F degrees.
Bake 5 to 8 minutes until puffed and brown; makes 20 pocket breads.
NOTE: Avoid punching or creasing dough after rolling; bread will not puff correctly.
How to make flatbread from France?
Combine in blender milk, eggs, flour, butter and salt; process until smooth and refrigerate 1 hour.
Heat 1 teaspoon oil to very hot in 10-12 inch frying pan.
Pour in 2 tablespoons of batter quickly swirling to cover bottom of pan
Flip over when surface looks dry and edges start to brown; lightly brown other side.
Transfer crepes to platter to keep warm and repeat process.
Spread each with butter, stuff with fruit or cottage cheese and roll up.
Drizzle with syrup to serve; makes 16.
Learn how to make flatbread from India.
Combine 1 cup flour, yeast and salt in mixing bowl; stir in water, yogurt, egg, oil and honey and beat until smooth.
Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft sticky dough.
Place dough on a floured surface; work in enough flour to make a dough stiff enough to knead.
Knead until smooth and elastic (about 3 to 5 minutes) but still soft.
Place in oiled bowl turning to coat; cover and let rise in warm place until double about 45 minutes.
PREHEAT OVEN TO 450F degrees.
Punch dough down and divide into 16 equal balls; let rest 5 minutes.
Roll each part out to ¼ inch thick round; brush with butter and sprinkle with seeds or cornmeal.
Place on baking sheets and bake 5 to 8 minutes; makes 16 round loaves.
Learn how to make flatbread from South America.
In medium bowl stir together with a fork the corn masa and salt.
Gradually stir in enough water to make the mixture hold together.
Gather dough into a ball with hands; knead a few times to get it smooth.
Divide dough into 12 parts; shape each part into a ball.
NOTE: Keep dough covered with plastic wrap while making tortillas.
Flatten one ball at a time between 2 pieces of wax paper; with rolling pin roll to a 6 inch circle.
NOTE: Leave rolled tortillas between wax paper until all parts are rolled.
After all are rolled, remove top sheet of wax paper; invert onto hot ungreased 8 inch skillet over medium heat.
Peel off bottom sheet and cook about 30 seconds; lift and turn pressing gently with pancake turner until bubbles form.
Lift and turn again; cook 1 minute longer or until bottom of tortilla has small brown speckles.
Move to foil wrapping and stacking to keep them warm until all are cooked.
Learn how to make flatbread like the Navajo Indians made.
Sift together flour, milk, baking powder and salt in bowl; add lard and rub together with fingers until crumbly.
Pour in water and toss with fork until dough is gathered together in a ball.
Cover bowl with towel; let rest at room temperature for about 2 hours.
Cut dough in 3 equal parts; on lightly floured surface roll each piece to 8 inch round ¼ inch thickness.
Cut TWO 4-5 inch PARALLEL slits completely through the center of each round spacing 1 inch apart.
Melt remaining lard (1 INCH DEEP) in a heavy Dutch oven or pot until very hot (NOT SMOKING).
Fry breads 1 at a time for about 2 minutes on each side; drain on paper towels.
NOTE: Bread will puff slightly becoming crisp and brown.
Learn how to make flatbread American style; delicious oat raisin pancakes.
Cover raisins with boiling water and let soften for 20 minutes; drain well.
In mixing bowl beat eggs lightly with milk; stir in apple juice, oats and baking powder.
Fold in raisins; spoon onto lightly ungreased hot griddle; when bubble break surface turn pancakes over.
NOTE: You can adjust the thickness of pancakes by adding more or less apple juice.