Goldilocks ratio is all you knead for fabulous flatbreads

Dan Lepard

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Starting with a simple recipe, you can supercharge your flatbreads. One straightforward dough and a very hot oven is almost all you need with these low-effort, high-flying flatbreads. From perfect pita to luscious lahmacun, you can impress family and friends without breaking into a sweat. Take a bow, you impressive home baker!

The basic overnight flatbread dough

Bakers will often talk about a Goldilocks ratio of water to flour. It’s what they call 65 per cent hydration: 650 millilitres of water to every kilogram of bread flour. When you mix dough at this ratio it’s soft but not too sticky, perfect for rolling out into amazing flatbreads. I make the dough the night before and let it sit in the fridge for a day or so to ramp up the flavour. This makes a big batch, but it keeps well in the fridge for up to three days.

650g water, about room temperature

7g sachet fast-action dry yeast

50g sunflower oil

1kg bread flour

20g salt

The night before, pour the water into a large bowl, whisk in the yeast then stir in the oil. Add the flour and salt, combine to a shaggy mixture then leave covered for an hour. Give the dough a light knead for about two minutes then return it to the bowl, stick it in the fridge and leave covered with cling film for a day or so (I find it’s fine for up to three days when kept chilled).

Makes about 12 tomato flatbreads, 30 small pita (recipe below) or 15 large ones

Pizza Turka, Madrid-style.

Pizza Turka, Madrid-style. Photo: William Meppem

Pizza Turca, Madrid-style

In Madrid they call this bread Pizza Turca, though it possibly has more in common with the “pan con tomate” the Spanish devour at breakfast than the better known Turkish minced lamb flatbread lahmacun. A simple spiced garlicky mixture, either plain or tossed with fresh chopped tomatoes, is spread over the dough before baking. After that the flatbread can be wrapped around salad fillings, sometimes layered with grilled lamb or chicken, as a fab vibrant lunch. The tomato topping (enough for four flatbreads) keeps well covered in the fridge for up to three days. Cooked pizzas freeze well so keep a stack ready for Saturday arvo feasting.

about 400g prepared flatbread dough (see recipe above)

Simple fresh spiced tomato topping

20g tomato paste

1 tsp harissa, or more to taste

2 tsp ground cumin

2 tsp ground coriander

¼ onion, finely minced

100g boiling water

20 ml cider vinegar or lemon juice

1 large clove garlic, crushed

½ tsp salt

small handful chopped mint

3-4 large ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped (optional)

1. Put everything except the chopped tomatoes, if using, into a mixing bowl, beat well, then stir through the chopped tomatoes.

2. Take pieces of dough (about 150 grams each) and, using lots of flour, roll to about 15 centimetres in diameter. Cover and leave these for 15 minutes on a well-floured surface to allow the dough to relax.

3. Heat the oven to 240C (220C fan-forced), or as high as it will go. Roll the dough out thinly, to about 2-3 centimetres thick, and place on a tray lined with non-stick paper.

4. Spread a quarter of the tomato mixture over each round of dough right to the edge. Use your fingers to spread it; it’s much easier than using a spoon.

5. Bake the rounds one at a time for 4-5 minutes each or until just beginning to colour. Remove from the oven, and leave covered with a clean cloth to stop them drying out while you bake the remainder. Keep well covered in the fridge for up to three days.

Makes 4 flatbreads

Pita bread

Take balls of dough about 50 grams each ((use 100 grams of dough for large ones) and roll out to about eight centimetres in diameter. Cover and leave these for 15 minutes on a well-floured surface for the dough to relax. Heat the oven to 240C/220C fan, or as high as it will go. Then roll the dough out thinly, to about five millimetres thick, and place on a tray lined with non-stick paper. Bake for about five minutes until puffed and starting to colour. Leave to cool under a cloth to keep them soft while you bake the remainder.

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