Dough! III: Flatbread

I was super excited for my flatbread class, but it fell kind of flat.

I’ll see myself out.

Here’s the thing—I was really looking forward to flatbread because I thought it would be easy (no proofing! No mold or metric ton of butter!) and then when it turned out to be easy, I got kind of bummed out, because there wasn’t any challenge to it.

That’s exactly how A and I felt about Ocean’s 8. We went in saying, “This will be a guaranteed good time, we love ladies and ball gowns and hacking montages, what could go wrong?” and when it turned out just to be ladies and ball gowns and hacking montages, we were disappointed.

I mean, there were no stakes to that movie at all. That violates every tenet of good screenplay writing. Paddington 2 had incredible stakes to it. My dad grabbed me twice while watching that to ask “Does everything turn out all right?”

He was genuinely concerned that everything would not be all right for the little computer animated bear in the children’s movie, because that’s what happens when a movie has excellent writing.

So Ocean’s 8 is the equivalent of cinematic flatbread. Not terrible, certainly edible, much more enjoyable and filling than a lot of what’s out there (oh my god, Solo), but rather lacking in flavor, not something I’d jump through hoops to bake again.

(I mean, who makes a heist movie where the entire heist goes flawlessly and there’s no third act twist where the plan threatens to fail? That’s not dramatic, that’s a documentary with prettier people).

Anyway, flatbread.

 

I made three kinds of flatbread in this class—whole wheat pitas, corn tortillas, and Moroccan m’smen, which tastes kind of like a cross between a crêpe and naan. The dough is laminated, or folded into buttered layers, like croissant pastry, but then flattened out as far as it can go and cooked on a griddle. Then you can eat it plain, dipped in honey or jam or harissa spread, or use it as a wrap for whatever meats or veggies you want. Brilliant.

The m’smen was by far my favorite bread, but I ended up giving all of it to my dad, who is obsessed with harissa anything, so I got him some premium harissa spread from our world-renowned deli that also runs this baking class empire and presented him with the m’smen.

That should be enough to win me favorite daughter status for a while.

The m’smen was definitely the most involved of the three breads, just because it had to be folded into layers and covered in melted butter and then folded and covered in butter again (hmm, maybe that’s why it tastes so delicious) before the final flattening.

 

The corn tortillas were fun to make—straightforward, I got to use a real tortilla press and feel like a professional, and they’re ready to eat in no time at all. But something about the recipe was a little dense and slightly lacking in flavor. But I get most of my tortillas on Taco Tuesday night at the vegan restaurant so what do I know?

The whole wheat pitas added a twist in the form of the wood-fired oven, which was kind of terrifying but exhilarating. I felt like an extra in Game of Thrones as I tossed my pita doughs into the flames. True, I have all the finesse of someone who’s never successfully thrown a Frisbee, but who cares.

My pitas came out okay even though I’d rolled out the dough with such purpose that the instructor said they were a little too flat (too flat for the flatbread class! This world is insane!) but they tasted fine. Not incredible, just fine.

 

Maybe the brioche class spoiled me by combining the flavors of literally everything I enjoy into a single bread delivery system, whereas flatbread is best used as a delivery vehicle for exciting and flavorful things, and making just a vehicle can be a little boring.

But I did get a golden quote from one of my classmates, an experienced baker who knew her way around a wood-fired oven. She said, “There’s no way to screw up bread—unless you see the face of Jesus on it, and even then, only if he looks mad at you.”

 

 

 

 

 

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