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Fast flatbread, in the pan and out in 15 minutes

August 7, 2009

tibetanflatbread-1

No yeast, no rising, no proofing, but still springy, soft with a crunch, and bread-y – not like a cracker-like flatbread, or the base of thin and crispy pizzas. Yes, I know, hardly an inspired opening line, but honestly, that sums this up – it’s unfussy, without need for extravagant investments or dilly-dallying, highly functional, yet fantastic. The best thing around when it’s too late to make rice, or you want a change from pasta and noodles, or when you’re out of yeast, or when you simply can’t, or don’t want to, wait hours for your dough to rise.

For dipping, for serving with soup, alongside a quick lunch-y salad, or just as a snack, this is so easy. I’ve a few tips, as the first time I made this it was a disaster, in more ways than one. I had expected it to come out perfect, and was crushed the way you get crushed when your parents tell you a a kid that there was a last minute call from the office and they won’t be taking you to Disneyland anymore. But no matter – let’s focus on the dozens of perfect flatbreads I’ve produced since then.

Tibetan flatbread, from Fuji Mama (great pics)

makes one 22cm round flatbread, about 2.5cm (just under 1″) thick

3/4 c wholemeal flour*
3/4 c plain white flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup + 2 Tbsp. water, separated
2 Tbsp oil

*If you have no wholemeal but have wheat bran and germ, you can use 1/4c of each plus 1/4c of white instead of wholemeal flour.

Mix flours, baking powder and salt in a medium sized bowl. Make a well in the center, pour in 3/4c water, and mix (preferably with spatula) until you get a very wet dough – almost like a cake batter, adding the last 1/4c water if necessary. Avoid over mixing.

Add oil to a COLD* frypan, and spread it out a little. Scrape the dough into the pan, and spread it out with a spatula or spoon to the edge of the pan. Dribble 2 Tbsp water around the edge of the dough, cover the pan, and turn heat to medium, setting a timer for 10 minutes. Try to use a cooking element that covers the whole base of the frypan. Let cook for 10 minutes, then uncover, and flip, then set the timer for another 5 minutes. It MAY stick when you try to flip it – if this is the case let the pan cool on a cold element for about 30 seconds, then try to dislodge the bread.

Remove the bread from the pan to a chopping board, and cut into wedges to serve (I like to cut it in half, then cut very long, thin wedges). Enjoy!

EDIT: I have since tried preheating the pan on medium heat with oil in it and not adding water – depending on the flour you use, the dough sticks a lot less. The holey-ness is more distributed though.

25 Comments leave one →
  1. August 9, 2009 5:38 pm

    Good post indeed! Thanks for sharing such nice information.
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  2. August 9, 2009 10:42 pm

    Isn’t it funny what a difference the cold pan makes in the cooking? I love how you can have fresh bread with your meal without any real planning. Jacques Pepin is a genius! Thanks for the mention!

  3. sufeiyasworld permalink
    April 13, 2011 7:25 pm

    looks very yummy and simple ! will try this out , great stuff :D

  4. Don Every permalink
    July 4, 2012 3:55 pm

    Stuck rock hard and fast to the pan on the first side, had to use another pan for the other side. The messy remainder tasted bland with a rubbery texture – a disaster.

  5. July 4, 2012 10:44 pm

    D: Dang, that doesn’t sound good! You definitely made it with a cold pan to start off with? That’s what happened to me too the first time I made it. As I mentioned, if it sticks, let everything cool a bit (if you have a very heavy pan it will take longer). It is springy as well, so apologies if that’s not really your thing. You’re right in that it’s not the most flavoursome bread – probably better to serve with soup, or I guess you could try adding other seasoning to it. Thanks for being honest about your experience anyway!

    • Don Every permalink
      July 4, 2012 10:56 pm

      Yes cold pan from the start Zhou, and a thin coat of oil in the pan. It seems the oil joined into the batter rather than keeping it off the base. Never mind, I`ll have another go some time. I`m a non- cook anyway! Thanks for the recipe and the return advice bro!

  6. July 4, 2012 10:59 pm

    Hrm, maybe try a little more oil…usually mine almost swims in it a little at the start…sounds appetising I know :P Or try something else I guess if the flavour/texture wasn’t really up your alley. Sorry to hear your experience could have been better though!

    • Don Every permalink
      July 4, 2012 11:02 pm

      Will do, thanks.

  7. doojee permalink
    August 11, 2012 4:04 pm

    Thank you so much for sharing this recipe. it went fine for me apart from the trouble of drying up the very moist dough in the middle of the bread. By the time it dried up the rest of the bread was hard. I wonder if making it in small batches will be idea?

  8. dave silber permalink
    September 25, 2012 6:08 am

    Tried the recipe as is apart from using bread flours (strong flours). Worked great. Everyone loved them. I use a very thick pan and a lot of oil. Will definitely make again.

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  10. Sarah/South Africa permalink
    December 9, 2012 11:23 pm

    I made it and it was wonderful first time. I used a non stick pan and the thin layer of oil. This is now my preferred flatbread. Thanks so much. I shared your post on fb;

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    December 12, 2012 2:00 pm

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  12. December 12, 2012 2:43 pm

    Hi Litter Robot, feel free to quote them & even use images if you’re credit-ing and linking back. As long as you’re not quoting entire posts I am flattered to be featured :) Thanks! What’s your blog url? would love to see it.

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  14. February 27, 2013 4:28 pm

    Mine was a bust!! I followed your update about starting with the preheated pan. The outsides crisped up nicely but the inside stayed gummy after the 10 minutes covered then 5 minutes uncovered after flipping. Not enough water maybe?? I put it on for another 5 minutes per side but never got that fluffy dry interior like yours. It tastes cooked though.

  15. February 27, 2013 5:00 pm

    Hi landmarkjumper, you can also use a non stick pan from cold so that it gets a little more cooked from the start, or try making it a bit thinner if possible (easier to do when cooking from cold in a non stick pan, so it doesn’t cook before you get it spread out enough). It’s not really meant to be dry & fluffy on the inside – it is pretty moist after all, but I’ve found spelt flour works out much drier than regular wheat. Sorry it didn’t work out for you!

    • February 27, 2013 7:08 pm

      Honestly, it kind of grew on us. Crispy outside with chewy inside. We ate it with home made hummus and enjoyed it. I think next time I’ll make it a little thinner and start from the cold pan as you suggested. Thanks!

  16. Christina permalink
    April 7, 2013 12:19 pm

    Just made this… I needed a base for homemade pizza. I used Rye flour (whole meal) and Whole Wheat (unbleached). I did use the cold pan method. I used a cast iron (not sure if that makes a difference for anyone. I prefer them as they hold head evenly). Anyway, it came out great! I was a little scared to just let it cook away under the lid for 10 minutes, but I resisted the urge to peek. It did not burn and it crisped up nicely all over, with a moist but cooked inside.
    Thanks for the recipe!

    • April 7, 2013 3:24 pm

      Yay so glad it worked for you, and what a lovely flavour combination! I am really falling in love with cast iron, and I don’t think I will ever buy any other kind of pan aga

  17. FamilyCook permalink
    April 11, 2013 2:03 pm

    Worked great for me. I used a cold nonstick pan and half the oil, but my pan was a bit smaller than a big skillet, so my flatbread wasn’t very flat (about 1.5 inches puffy or so, but nice texture!!). Read the comment that said it wasn’t very flavorful, so I coated the top liberally with garlic and a bit of salt. Since that part “crisped up” last at the end, it was REALLY tasty! Thanks for the quick and easy recipe!

  18. John O'Neill permalink
    April 22, 2013 1:42 pm

    Just tried it and liked it but did not believe the 2 tablespoons of oil. Used less than half that as a coating on pan. Am I missing out on something? Thanks for the recipe. I will persist with it.

    • April 22, 2013 8:51 pm

      If it works without 2Tbs of oil, all good. Some pans are just really sticky so that’s a “to be safe” amount :)

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