food

Recipe: Basic Flatbread

Ilse van der Merwe, author of the new cookbook Cape Mediterranean, believes there's nothing better than breaking open a hot piece of flatbread with friends.

Tasha Seccombe

Basic Flatbread Cape Mediterranean | House and Leisure

'Nothing beats the smell of freshly baked bread from your own oven,' writes Ilse van der Merwe in her new cookbook Cape Mediterranean: The Way We Love To Eat. 'It’s probably also the nurturing anticipation of breaking open a steamy, delicious, simple piece of bread with friends around a table that makes it so special.

'Bread may have gained a bad reputation in an era of banting, but if you’re not officially allergic or intolerant, I urge you to buy a packet of stoneground, unbleached, locally produced flour and try baking your own. It is relatively inexpensive and a highly therapeutic process, and celebrates the unique alchemy of a few very simple ingredients.' 

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Basic Flatbread

Ingredients

  • 300g stoneground white bread flour
  • 10ml instant dry yeast
  • 5ml sugar
  • 2.5ml fine salt
  • 200ml lukewarm water
  • 15ml extra virgin olive oil, plus more for oiling the bowl  

Method

Mix the flour, yeast, sugar and salt in a large bowl with a spoon. Add the water and oil and mix with a spoon until it starts to clump together, then mix with clean hands to form a dough.

Start kneading the dough until it is very smooth, for about 5-7 minutes (I turn it out onto a clean working surface for better access to kneading space). Shape into a ball and then place in an oiled bowl, cover with a plastic bag and leave to rise in a warm place until it has doubled in size (about 30 minutes).

Preheat the oven to 230°C. Turn out the dough onto a floured surface, then divide into two balls. Roll out each ball into a circular or oval shape, about the size of a large dinner plate (or bigger, depending on your desired thinness). Place the flatbread circle on a large baking tray lined with non-stick baking paper (it’s not necessary to dust it with flour), drizzle with some olive oil and sprinkle with salt flakes.

Bake for 7-9 minutes or until golden brown and puffy in places. Serve immediately (break off pieces or slice with a knife).

Makes 2 large, 4 medium or 8 small flatbreads

Variations

When the flatbread is rolled out and placed on a lined baking tray, you can add the following toppings before baking to create a more exotic flatbread.

Za’atar Flatbread

Toppings

  • 5ml dried origanum
  • 5ml dried thyme
  • 5ml ground cumin
  • 10ml fennel seeds
  • 5ml (1 teaspoon) ground coriander
  • 5ml (1 teaspoon) ground sumac
  • 10ml (2 teaspoons) sesame seeds
  • 5ml (1 teaspoon) salt flakes
  • 15ml (1 tablespoon) olive oil

Method

Mix all the dry ingredients together. Use a pastry brush to brush the rolled-out dough with olive oil, then sprinkle generously with the za’atar spice blend and bake until golden.

Onion and Rosemary Flatbread

Toppings

  • Red or white onion round, thinly sliced 
  • Fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • Salt flakes
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Method

Arrange the sliced onions in strands all over, sprinkle with rosemary, season with salt and pepper, then bake until golden.

Garlic and Feta Flatbread

Toppings

  • 3 garlic cloves, finely grated
  • 15ml olive oil
  • 1 round feta cheese

Mix the grated garlic with the oil in a small bowl. Use the back of a spoon to spread it onto the rolled-out dough to cover the whole surface, then crumble the feta all over. Bake until golden.

Buy your copy of Cape Mediterranean: The Way We Love To Eat by Ilse van Der Merwe here.
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