Form, meet function.
Not only that, but an especially tasty function. These soft discs of sesame-flecked flatbread can cradle a sandwich's worth of chicken salad or the fixings for fish tacos, be torn into scoops for hummus, or employed as especially smart "platters" on camping trips, where a swiped-clean plate always is welcomed by the designated dish-washer.
Puffed flatbreads bake in about three minutes on a heavy pancake griddle, making them a perfect "get 'em while they're warm" bread, whether at a campsite, over the back-yard grill or in the bug-free comfort of your kitchen. No griddle? They bake just as well in a hot oven.
These flatbreads resemble tortillas or chapatis, but are more tender, thanks to a yeast-risen dough that includes a bit of yogurt, preferably Greek-style, which also lends a slightly tangy flavor. A scattering of sesame seeds adds a nutty note and a subtle crunch.
The straightforward dough is made by hand or with a mixer, then left to rise for about 45 minutes. Roll the risen dough into 8-inch rounds — a water bottle works well in the wilderness — sprinkle with seeds, then gently lay each disc on the griddle. Within 30 seconds, little bubbles will begin to rise across the surface. Wait a minute longer, flip, then give the bread a final minute.
The flatbreads are best used immediately, but you might save one to fill with the next morning's scrambled eggs. No plate required.
1. Divide risen dough into 8 pieces and form into balls.
2. Roll on a lightly floured surface into an 8-inch circle, letting the dough rest a bit if it tends to shrink back.
3. Brush lightly with water.
4. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, patting or rolling them to help the seeds adhere.
5. Gently lay the dough on a hot griddle, or a preheated baking sheet or pizza stone in the oven. If outdoors, use a campfire griddle.
6. Stack baked flatbreads on a towel and keep covered until you're ready to eat.
BAKED PUFFED FLATBREAD
Baked Puffed Flatbreads can be topped with various salad fillings and fresh vegetables for a light meal.
Makes: 8 flatbreads
Note: Adapted from "Baking With the St. Paul Bread Club: Recipes, Tips and Stories," from a "Cooks Illustrated" recipe. Top the flatbread to make a sandwich, or cut up the bread to use with dips such as hummus or baba ghanoush.
1 package (2¼ teaspoon) active dry yeast
¾ cup warm (not hot) water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1/3 cup plain yogurt, preferably Greek-style
¾ cup whole wheat flour, shaken through a strainer or colander to remove coarse flakes of bran
3 to 31/2 cup all-purpose flour
11/2 teaspoon salt
2 to 3 tablespoon sesame seeds
Sprinkle yeast over warm water in a small bowl and stir to dissolve. Let sit for about 5 minutes, until bubbly. Whisk in olive oil, honey and yogurt.
In a large bowl, combine sieved whole wheat flour, 3 cups all-purpose flour and salt. Using a wooden spoon or the dough hook of a stand mixer, add the liquid ingredients and mix thoroughly, only adding the additional 1/3 cup flour if the dough seems especially sticky.
Turn out onto floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes, using a scraper if necessary to lift and pull the dough over itself until it feels smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Try to resist adding additional flour, although humid conditions may require a bit more. This is a soft, tender dough.
Lightly coat a medium bowl with oil and place the dough face down, then flip so the coated side is on top. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
When dough is ready, begin heating griddle on stovetop. If using the oven, preheat to 500 degrees. If you have a pizza stone, place that on the bottom rack to heat. Otherwise, place a heavy sheet pan in the oven. (You want to lay the flatbread dough on a hot surface to help it puff.)
Turn the risen dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 8 pieces, forming each into balls. Cover with a cloth and let rest for 5 minutes.
With a rolling pin on a floured surface, roll a ball into a flat circle about 8 inches across, flipping once. If the dough shrinks and pulls back, let rest for a minute, then continue to roll. Brush lightly with water and sprinkle with a scant teaspoon of sesame seeds. Roll once with the pin to help seeds adhere.
Gently lift the dough round and lay it on the hot griddle, pizza stone or baking sheet.
The dough soon will begin to puff and bubble. After 2 minutes, lift an edge to see how it's browning on the bottom; it should be golden and speckled. Flip and continue cooking for another minute, or until the bread feels puffy with no doughy areas.
Remove to clean kitchen towel and cover while you continue with the rest of the dough balls.
The flatbreads are best served the same day they're made, but will keep overnight if well-wrapped in plastic.
Nutrition information per serving: 260 calories; 4 g fat; 450 mg sodium; 47 g carbohydrates; 1 g saturated fat; 25 mg calcium; 8 g protien; 1 mg cholesterol; 3 g dietary fiber
Diabetic exchanges per serving: 3 bread/starch, 1 fat.