31.1.14

Flatbread Recipe Test





Time for another recipe test, where I pluck some recipes from the web and see whether they are keepers. This time I'm looking at flat breads, a staple in almost all culinary cultures. I've made some naan and foccacia in the past but none of those recipes really stuck with me. I saw a pin on my foodie community board by Laura de Vincentes for an Italian piadina and really wanted to try it and some other flat breads.



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I also tweeted my plan to do a flat bread recipe test and Ilona van Golen (@ilonavg_eet) pointed me towards a naan recipe.

To round out the candidates I got a pita recipe via good old reliable www.foodgawker.com.


Recipes


Piadina by Laura de Vincentes. It is in Italian but google translate is your friend. 

Naan bread by Angie Tee. Ilona helpfully pointed out that there is a teaspoon of salt missing from the ingredient list. 



Piadina


A specialty from the Romagna region in Italy, this is the simplest recipe ingredient wise. The only leavening agent is a pinch of baking powder. I did change one thing in this recipe, using butter instead of lard. This probably does have an effect on the outcome but let's see how it goes.


This is a tough dough to knead. There isn't much liquid and the dough takes a long time to come together. I'm cursing the loss of my dough hooks right about now. Once it has come together I wrap it in clingfilm and let it rest for half an hour. By magic this transforms the dough into something I can actually roll out into roughly circle like shapes ready to get baked in a hot pan.



The recipe stipulates to use a fork to prick a lot of holes in the dough while it is in the pan. However I fear for my pan and its continued ability to remain anti stick, so I just prick the dough on the counter before I put them in the pan.



Baking them is a bit like doing pancakes. And like with pancakes my first one is a dud. Though it has nice colour on both sides, the insides are raw.


This however was easily fixed by rolling the next breads thinner and lowering the heat a little bit so it would have more time in the pan.



Naan Bread


The naan bread is the opposite of the piadina in many ways. It has many more ingredients, and uses both yeast and baking powder to provide lift. It is also a rich dough with milk, egg, yogurt and oil. The initial dough is very wet and sticky, which is sort of a relief after the arm workout given to me by the others. 


A couple of minutes of developing the gluten yields a lovely velvety dough that is a pleasure to handle. Now it just needs to proof and then we get to a fantastic bit.


This is the BEST. Punching down the dough is like punching a cloud. Just so much fun.

The dough is easily rolled out into roughly naan shaped slabs. The only issue I had with the recipe was the way I should bake it. A burning hot oven and baking tray are doable. However the instruction to first bake in a hot oven and then finish it under a hot grill is impractical. My grill does not heat up in two seconds so I just baked it with the grill on. It goes incredibly quickly, the dough looks like it inflates and soon after you have to take it out lest it burns. 



Pita Bread


Ah, the pita bread. Now this did not work out for me and I figured out why after the fact. I thought the dough was stupid dry with only one cc of water so I added another cc. Still the dough was hard to work with. The dough was tough and the pita hadn't risen much during the proof. Of all the pita only one puffed up slightly in the oven. It was at this time that I had my epiphany. The c in the recipe did not mean a centiliter, it meant a cup. This explains a lot. I cannot in good conscience give my opinion on this recipe because I messed it up, I'll try it again at a later date. Pita bread is disqualified from the recipe test. Damn you, non metric system.


Results

I feel like a bit of an idiot over the pita bread, but on the plus side the other two were kinda great. The piadina is interesting as it is almost more of a cracker than a flat bread. On its own it is not great, dry and not particularly flavourfull. But it is more of a vessel for other things. It needs some fat, or moisture and some salt. Which is why this would be excellent with a tangy tapenade or some smoked salmon and a bit of burrata. Even a small lick of olive oil and a sprinkling of sea salt transforms the piadina. If I were to make a big anti pasti spread I will make this again because even though the ingredients are very simple it somehow manages to taste quintessentially Italian. 

Now the naan, the naan was just so great. It was a joy to make, to see it rise in the oven, and most importantly to eat. The textures are fantastic as well, the top layer is crunchy but inside it is fluffy. I felt sad I didn't have a curry waiting to lap up with the naan. I can recommend making this to everyone, the results are sure to delight.






2 comments:

  1. Interesting! I have been wanting to try naan; perhaps I'll check out the pita and flatbread recipes as well.

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  2. Something about Piadina Romagnola (well it's now available in a lot of different recipes BUT... PIADINA is ONLY ROMAGNOLA) :)

    http://www.riccionehotels.com/notizie/preparare-la-piadina

    it's a proper vademecum on Piadina recipe and process, but also a small research about TESTO the old (but still the best) way to kook piadina.

    ReplyDelete