Welcome to this month’s instalment of The Everyday Baker review (I’m spreading it out over the course of a year because with over 170 recipes and 600+ pages, it’s a little hard to cover unless you divide it up into chapters!). This month, we’re looking at the “Flatbread” chapter.
I’ve been excited to check out this chapter since I got this book. I’ve always thought that flatbread is a nice “gateway” to bread for people afraid of baking bread (that would be me!) and this chapter includes such a wonderful variety of recipes that there really is something for everyone. Ironically, bread used to be my absolute nemesis but recently I’ve just started getting on with “tricky” recipes because, well, I don’t have time to faff around thinking they are hard. Trying to adopt the “can-do” attitude of my students 😉 I’ll admit to spending a long time trying to choose a recipe from this chapter to make because they all sounded so good!
There is a wide variety of recipes in this chapter from naan to pizza, pitas, foccacia and a variety of crackers and crispbreads. Lots of basic recipes in this chapter would serve as a template for different flavours which is exactly what you want in a cookbook – there’s no way you can include all variations but a good basic recipe will serve you in good stead, always. Abby’s got you covered!
Flatbread Bakers’ Wisdom and Techniques and Tips
This chapter includes a lot of the tips you’ll find in the Yeast Breads chapter too. Again, even more than the great selection of recipes in this chapter, the Bakers’ Wisdom and Techniques and Tips in this chapter are key knowledge that any bread baker (or aspiring bread baker) will need. The often-referenced Essential Technique colour step-by-step images are so necessary for less-experiences bakers working with bread. There are a lot of different types of dough included in this chapter the detailed diagrams and images really do hold your hand through each stage. There’s really useful information about how to knead bread doughs and important techniques are highlighted in bold in the actual recipes themselves so that before you begin, you can mark those pages for easy reference. Most of these pages will stay marked in my book, not just for when I am baking, but because of how useful they are baking anyone’s bread recipes. In particular, there’s a useful section about shaping and topping pizza dough and baking on a pizza stone (I’ll admit I wasn’t doing it right). Abby shows you in images how to successfully carry out “fraisage” (a means of incorporating the wet ingredients into a dough using your hands) and also how to roll out cracker dough using a pasta maker (ingenious!).
Which Flatbread recipe did I make?
Though so many recipes looked tempting, I simply couldn’t go past naan. It’s a favourite in this house but hard to find a decent store-bought version and I’ve always been a little dubious of being able to make it myself. Well Abby showed me how – in just over an hour, start to finish, I had six gorgeous naan that “tasted like the real thing” as I like to say when stuff turns out the way it’s meant to but when I’m not expecting it to! Legit naan. Made by me! This was SUCH an easy recipe, the dough is a dream to work with and there are no really challenging techniques involved (but there are step by step photos anyway which is always good!). My only challenge was making sure my cast-iron pan didn’t get too hot (I accidentally set the temp to high and ended up switching pans half-way through because it simply wouldn’t cool down) and used a non-stick pan which was much better. Next time I’ll know to watch for the temp on the pan.
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Disclosure: Abby is a friend but she didn’t ask me to write about the book. In fact, she didn’t even know I had a copy until I told her!