As many of you will know, ‘The Great British Bake Off’ has once again returned to the television sets of good ol’ Blighty. To tell you the truth, the whole concept has become a little boring recently, but its appearance never fails to inspire; a couple of weeks ago the bakers were asked to make two different kinds of flatbread. However, while it has endowed me generously with mental stimulation, it has also daubed my forehead with a modicum of confused perspiration; how can one show purport to find the ‘Best Amateur Baker’ three years in a row? Surely, the winner of the second competition would eclipse that of the first? Unless, of course, sometime in the future, when we’re all a little older, greyer and fatter and have ceased to give two-monkeys about this particular competition, ‘The Super British Bake Off’ will be conceived, whereby all the previous contestants battle it out for the title. To me the whole concept of the program doesn’t quite work; would the scoring and ultimate outcome not be a little more convincing if each contestant took part in every single round and was scored by way of a league table? Perhaps I simply need to relax and enjoy the baking, but it’s so difficult when the Beeb isn’t trying hard enough to satiate my vast wealth of needs. Still, at least it isn’t on ITV… they’d probably steal my voting money or something.
You may have gathered that I’m not entirely satisfied with British television at this particular moment in time. If you haven’t then I’d suggest you need a little self-leavening – you’re far too dense (no offence). Actually, that potential insult brings me nicely onto these delicious herby flatbreads. Flatbread is a type of bread that almost every culture in the World has a recipe for. Whether it is leavened or not depends on where that particular group resided; did they have access to such knowledge or ingredients when their particular recipe was envisaged? The recipe you see before you today is leavened (it is allowed to rise) and is based upon no particular type of flatbread, but is borne of the concept as a whole. It seems that the whole point of a flatbread is that one can mould them to be exactly what one desires – this recipe remains within that tradition. Indeed, I shan’t attempt to tell you what herbs must find their way into these breads, though I will say that I used chive and coriander. Whatever herb you choose, these will taste delicious – as long as the flavour profile matches what you intend to eat them with.
There are many ways to cook a flatbread; generally the only criterion is that they are allowed to steam using the moisture they themselves contain. This means that only a little oil should be used in their preparation, in order to stop them from sticking. The easiest way to achieve this is by cooking them in the oven. However, from an aesthetic and flavour point of view it is recommended that they are either fried or griddled – one doesn’t want them to burn, but a crispy corner never did anyone any harm. Either way, enjoy these flatbreads, they are truly gorgeous. Take that, Bake Off.
Garlic and Herb Flatbreads
• 175ml warm or tepid water
• 7g sachet of fast-action yeast
• 1 tsp honey
• A generous pinch of salt
• 200g plain flour
• 50g rye or spelt flour
• 3-4 tbsp chopped herbs of your choice
• 1 clove of garlic, mashed
• 2 tbsp olive oil
1. In a jug, mix together the water, honey and yeast. Set this aside until frothy. Tip the flours, herbs and salt into a large bowl and mix. Tip in the frothy water mixture and bring together at first with a spoon and then by hand. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Place the dough in a clean bowl, cover and put in a warm place to rise for 30 minutes.
2. Once the dough has been given ample time divide it into four balls and gently roll them out into circles. Brush a little oil onto a cast iron or thick stainless steel pan and cook each flatbread, one-by-one, over a medium heat. They are cooked when the bread springs back when pressed. One may have to re-apply oil between bread.
3. Mix together the garlic with 2 tbsp of olive oil. Once the flatbreads have been allowed a little time to cool brush them with the garlic and oil. Serve immediately.
Cost: Bread will never cost the earth to make, especially when it is as simple as these. Indeed, these delicious flatbreads, which are perfectly served alongside most dishes, should set one back no more than £1.10.