Bread is a staple in our household. I don’t actually eat a lot of it — if it were just me, I would maybe make it through half a loaf before it went stale — but it’s James’s favorite snack. And if you’re trying to eat less salt, going to the corner store to buy a baguette isn’t really a very good option. Most bread (even the good stuff) is pretty high in sodium, to the point where places that make saltless bread are considered anomalous somehow. And seriously, who chooses Pugliese when they could have a good french baguette? So I’ve been playing around with various flatbread recipes, just to see if there’s a quick, easy, and tasty substitute for bread that doesn’t need a lot of salt, stores well, and can be used to make sandwiches. This Georgian flatbread recipe is the best I’ve tried so far.
The original recipe is from Jeffrey Alford’s Flatbreads and Flavors: A Baker’s Atlas, which I’ve only been cooking from for a short time but have had consistent success with. His recipe is for a cheese bread — you make a rather plain dough and fill it with a feta cheese mix, kind of like a cheese pasty but with softer dough. My version starts with his dough recipe, but I incorporate porcini powder, sauteed minced shallots, and black pepper into the dough as I knead to give it more flavor. What you end up with is a soft bread (almost biscuit-like) with a rich, earthy, savory taste that can be eaten plain or, better still, toasted with a bit of butter.
This recipe is quite versatile — I imagine you could use the same procedure I describe below for any flavoring you desire. And it is very quick — you do all the prep work while the oven is preheating, and then just shove them in. 6 minutes later, you have bread.
Georgian Flatbread with Porcini, Shallot, and Black Pepper
Makes 8 ~6″ rounds.
- olive oil
- 2 T. porcini powder (or any minced, strongly flavored mushroom)
- 2 shallots, minced
- ~ 1/2 t. black pepper
- 3-4 c. unbleached all purpose flour
- 1-1/2 t. baking powder
- 1-1/2 c. greek yogurt (low fat is fine)
- 1/2 c. milk
Preheat oven to 450°F / 230°C.
Saute minced shallots, porcini powder, and black pepper in olive oil until soft. Remove from heat and set aside.
Start with 3 c. flour. Stir in the baking powder, then add the greek yogurt and milk. Stir (probably with your hands, if you’re me) until the dough comes together. If it’s too wet, add a bit more flour. Sprinkle a hard surface with flour, turn out the dough, and knead for 4 minutes or so, adding more flour as necessary. It should feel soft and smooth and be fairly easy to work with — if it’s too hard, add a bit more milk or water. Once you’re happy with the dough, flatten it out a bit and make a well in the center. Put the shallot mix in the well, then fold the dough over the mix and keep kneading. This is supposed to be a little messy; it will eventually result in an evenly flavored dough.
Shape the dough into 8 round, flat breads (like tortillas, though the dough isn’t quite that stretchy). Place on parchment-lined baking trays, and place in the oven. Bake for 6-10 minutes (depending on how brown / crunchy you want them and how accurate your oven temperature is). Serve warm or let cool on a wire rack and store in an airtight container until you want to use them.