Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Tibetan Flatbread (Skillet Bread)

I approached this recipe with apprehension. Even trepidation. "Bread" from just flour and water? It was just too easy. 

I had learned my lesson in 2006 from the "no-knead" bread recipe that appeared in the New York Times which "minimalist" Mark Bittman praised. It was all the rage. Because I love bread and make it often, people E-mailed me that recipe and article. I literally dove into it.

Unfortunately, I was more disappointed than impressed. It tasted like . . . well . . . flour and water. And then I thought . . . what the hell? What is so wrong with a bit of yeast, kneading and waiting?

Our lives are spent kneading and waiting. Right? It defines us.

So, along comes Jacques Pepin talking about a bread you make in a pan. Mon Dieu! What would his best friend Julia Child think?

Well, I copied the recipe . . . but couldn't quite bring myself to make it . . . until I was out of bread. I just have to have bread and toast for breakfast. Period. It is my understanding that this bread is correctly identified as "Tibetan Flat Bread." There is nothing "flat" about this bread.

Wow! Okay. Drum rolls, please.




I have now made this four times in two weeks. And each time I savor each and every bite. 

This is all about the olive oil. Yeast gives bread flavor. In the no-knead recipe, there was no flavor. But here, the olive oil takes over without being overpowering. Use a quality extra-virgin olive oil. So far, I've only used all-pupose white flour. Soon I'll experiment by adding other grained flours, such as rye or spelt. Even herbs and seeds. Maybe some sugar.

The combination of steaming and frying gives this bread a tooth-satisfying, chewy-yet-crunchy texture. The edges are bliss! It's somewhere between a biscuit, English muffin, pretzel and Focaccia. And it keeps well. It also toasts beautifully. I've made thin slices to dunk into marinara sauces. Oh, my! Split it to make wonderful sandwiches! Just make it!

  • 1.5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 - 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 1.5 - 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 cup water
  • 1.5 - 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1.5 - 2 tablespoons water
  • 1, 8 or 8.5-inch non-stick skillet

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, salt and baking powder. Add the water. Mix until well-blended. It will kind of look like a thick pancake batter.

Coat the bottom of a COLD skillet with the olive oil. Pour the batter/dough into it. Wet your hands with water and pat the batter to the sides keeping it round and neat.

Drizzle the water around the perimeter/outside edge of the pan. Turn heat to medium. As soon as the water/oil mixture at the edge of the pan begins to sizzle and bubble, COVER. Lower heat a bit. Steam/cook for ten minutes.

(The first time I made this, I was kind of alarmed by the amount of oil and water. Don't be. The bread will absorb it. It's what you want.)

After ten minutes, the bread will have risen. 

Flip. The underside will have turned golden brown and absorbed the olive oil and water.

Loosen edges and flip. Cover. Cook for an additional five minutes. The flip-side will not be as pretty.

Remove from pan and allow to cool ten minutes on a rack before slicing. Because the "crust" is "chewy" kitchen shears or a sharp pizza wheel make easy work of cutting.


Anonymous said...

Gary, I can't wait to try this! Thanks Elinor

Kitchen Bounty said...

Elinor: Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

Barbara said...

I have been making this bread for years. The family that I married into talked about this bread until i finaly came up with the recipe that I have used since I was told " Its just like moms!" It is what they used to take for lunch when they were in school. Though I have to admit it is nice to see it on your site. They are from Missouri.

mos said...

i’m trying to make this bread today and hope it works

mos said...

did not raise well,too heavy!

Kitchen Bounty said...

Mos, sorry to hear that ... I've never had a problem. Hope you will give it another try!

Unknown said...

Bread flour or All Purpose?

Kitchen Bounty said...

It clearly states "all-purpose."

Ben H said...

Thanks for this recipe! We've made it twice so far since discovering it this week and it's turned out perfectly.

Kitchen Bounty said...

Ben: Terrific! Thanks for your feedback.

Unknown said...

We love this bread! I like to sub 1 cup whole wheat + 1/2 cup AP or whole wheat pastry flour. Depends on your flour, but you may need to add a tiny bit more water (as usual when substituting whole wheat). I like to fiddle, so I add seeds if desired (combo fennel, cumin, coriander, caraway, anise, sesame, any/all). Spices or herbs if desired (curry, paprika, mint, parsley, I'm a wild woman). We cut down the salt by half (husband's preference). Always a delight whether plain or wild.

Allison Dey Malacaria said...
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Allison Dey Malacaria said...
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Kitchen Bounty said...
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Allison Dey Malacaria said...
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SoupKitchenBoy said...

Allison M. The rubbery texture may be from mixing the batter too much. This develops gluten which resists the leavening of the baking powder. Also you may be using too thin a pan. This recipe works well in a cast iron skillet.

Kitchen Bounty said...

@tell me a story: Thank you for this information. It really is an easy recipe. I have never used a cast-iron skillet, just a heavy non-stick pan.--but a well-seasoned iron skillet is just that! I made this several days ago and I appreciate it so much. Contrary to Allison, mine is never "rubbery." You need to let it sit before slicing. YIKES to her "bunch of syrup." It's not a pancake. I never said it was ... In fact ... dip in marinara sauce ... not sugar ...

Allison Dey Malacaria said...

@tell me a story Thank you for your suggestions. I will try again using cast iron as so many people have had good results and I have no idea why mine simply comes out rubbery but fried outside like a pancake. @kitchen bounty No need to get all "Yikes" about my "bunch of syrup". The syrup was in response to the fact that it was a pancake and not a bread. No need to be rude. I was trying to save what I had made for some purpose. If I had managed to make a bread, I would not have poured syrup on it. I also never said that you said it was a pancake; that's simply how it cooked up to be. love to bake. I bake bread, cookies, homemade pie crusts, all kind of wonderful flour-based items. I have never had a recipe fail so spectacularly.....THREE times. But in fairness, I will try a fourth with Tell Me a Stories suggestions. Still, no reason to be belittling. It shows a decided lack of character. While Tell Me a Story was encouraging which shows a spirit of helpfulness. If it doesn't work out a fourth time, I'll simply ask a Tibetan. After all, I am a Tibetan Buddhist practitioner of 40 years. How silly of me not to have simply asked one of the monks or nuns to show me how they make it.