It’s amazingly quick and easy to make great home-baked pita breads. Very few ingredients are needed to bake these lovely round/oval flatbreads and the delightful ‘pocket’ is simply created by steam puffing up the dough when exposed to a high temperature. Preparing the dough is very straightforward and you can choose to refrigerate part of it for the next day or later in the week.
It’s the pocket that makes pita bread so very practical and versatile. Here are some ideas for filling, dipping and wrapping.
Serve with any meze platter
Scoop up hummus and baba ghanoush
Wrap around kebabs, shawarmas and falafel
Fill with souvlaki, tzatziki… anything Middle Eastern, North African, Greek and Turkish will work a treat – add french fries if you feel naughty!
Cut the pitas into wedges, brush with olive oil and toast to make pita chips or croutons
150g wholemeal wheat flour (using wholemeal flour will give the pita breads a hearty taste)
1 sachet of dry yeast (7g)
1 ¼ tsp salt
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp olive oil or rapeseed oil
300 ml water, lukewarm
How to make pita breads
Dissolve the honey in the tepid water.
Combine all ingredients (except the oil) in a large bowl until the dough comes together and you can form a rough ball. Add the oil towards the end and a little more water if not all of the flour can be picked up.
Place the dough on a clean work surface and knead until it is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.
Lightly oil the large bowl you used earlier by spreading a glug of oil with a kitchen brush.
Put the dough back into the bowl.
Cover and let rise in a warm spot until it has doubled in size, approximately 2 hours.
Deflate the dough to release the trapped gases.
Once risen and punched down, you can refrigerate the pita dough until it is needed – it will keep in the fridge for about a week.
Shape the dough into a 25cm long log.
Divide the log into 10-12 pieces and shape each piece into a ball.
Dust the balls with flour, cover with a tea towel and leave to rest for 20 minutes (you’ll be able to shape the dough much easier after this time).
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 250º – the highest setting you have. If you are not using a baking stone, leave the baking tray in the oven to heat up and make sure it is placed near the bottom of the oven.
Roll each dough ball into a 15cm circle, about 6mm in thickness.
Bake until the pitas puff up, have lightly browned and fully ballooned, circa 4-5 minutes. Don’t overbake them as they should come out still soft, not with a hardened shell. If they don’t puff, the oven/baking tray isn’t hot enough. Don’t throw out pitas without pockets – they are still delicious disks of goodness and great dipping material.
Turn over and bake for another minute.
I usually bake about 4 – 6 pitas at a time, removing the baked pitas with a spatula before placing the new dough disks on the baking sheet.
Cool for a minute or two; the puffed up pitas will collapse and flatten as they cool. Pita breads are best eaten when still warm. Alternatively, store in freezer bags at room temperature for up to 5 days.
Looking for a delicious homemade canapé recipe or simply for a savoury snack? These bread shots (original recipe taken from a book by Richard Bertinet called “Dough“) are just what you are looking for!
Bertinet’s bread shots are made of basic white yeast dough – little dough balls (smaller is better as it allows for a good topping-to-bread ratio), filled with the topping of your choice.
Ingredients for 36 bread shots
500g strong white bread flour
7g sachet of dried yeast
3/4 tsp salt
375g water, lukewarm
2 tbsp olive oil
Sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped and mixed with dried Italian herbs
Black pitted olives
Strong white cheddar, 1cm-cubes
Walnut halves and strong white cheddar (my favourite)
Spicy sausage, 1cm-cubes
How to make the bread shots
Put the flour, yeast and salt into large bowl and whisk together with a balloon whisk.
Add the water and mix together to form a rough dough with a wooden spoon.
On a clean work surface, knead for about 10 minutes until your dough is smooth and elastic.
Place the dough in a lightly floured bowl, cover with a clean kitchen towel and leave to rest in a warm place for about one hour or until the dough has doubled in size.
Take the dough back out of the bowl and onto a very lightly floured surface.
Flatten the dough until it’s about 3 cm thick, then divide into 6 strips.
Divide each strip into a further 6 parts. These 6 parts will initially resemble little squares and will now need to be shaped into tight, smooth balls (as per Bertinet this is best done by folding each edge in turn into the centre of the dough and pressing down with your thumbs, rotating as you work, before giving the dough ball a final roll in the palm of your hand, smoothing the edges underneath).
Place the 36 bread shots on two sheets of baking paper and leave to rest for 15 minutes.
Use the handle of a wooden spoon to make a well in the centre of one bread ball at a time before putting one of the chosen toppings into the mold. Try to make the well quite deep as the dough will still rise and move the filling up- and outwards. When placing the bread balls on the baking paper, make sure you leave enough space between each bread shot to allow for further growth – you need to avoid them sticking together.
Cover the filled dough balls with a kitchen towel and leave to rest for a further 45 minutes.
Preheat the oven for half an hour.
Bake for 10 minutes or so at 220°C. It took a little longer in my oven – so just bake until golden brown.
Allow to cool on a wire rack
One final tip – the bread shots with cheese topping always come out best, so use cheese on its own or alongside another topping whenever you can!
Last Sunday I was invited to a Thanksgiving dinner and my friend Mariel from NY put on a huge feast for us (great homemade rum ice cream also by Rich!). Of course, my contribution to the dinner was going to be bread related and for this occasion it had to be cornbread (the savoury kind). This is my very own savoury cornbread recipe, tried and tested many times.
First of all, some clarification on cornmeal since I live in the UK and this is a typical US dish. Cornmeal (the finely ground version you need for cornbread) is also referred to as maize flour in the UK or you might get finely ground polenta.
Traditionally in the States, a skillet (a cast iron pan with slanted sides) is used for baking cornbread. The skillet is the only way to make it all-round crispy and crunchy. Unfortunately, I’m currently lacking a skillet (not much longer I hope!) so I used a baking tin. You can use the same recipe to make savoury cornbread muffins. Just divide the mixture among the muffin tins and bake for slightly shorter than in the below recipe (about 20 minutes overall).
Easy to put together and a great side dish for Thanksgiving, Christmas dinner or any other time of the year, whenever you fancy a delicious snack! TIP: Get all the ingredients ready and all the chopping and grating done before you start putting the savoury cornbread batter together.
Ingredients for savoury cornbread
100gplain white flour
½tspbicarbonate of soda
50gbuttermelted, plus 1 tbsp of butter for the onions
100gsweetcornfrom the tin, chopped
1large onionfinely chopped
2fresh green or red chillideseeded and finely chopped
How to make cornbread
Preheat the oven to 200°C.
Line a baking tray with baking paper. In terms of baking tray size, the above recipe will fill a 23cm square (or round) baking tin, about 4cm deep.
Melt a tablespoon of the butter in a frying pan and sautée the onion for 2 minutes.
Add the chili and fry for another 5 minutes until the onions start to brown.
Add the chopped sweetcorn kernels and stir for another 2 - 3 minutes.
Set aside to cool.
In a large bowl, mix the maize flour, plain flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt. Stir the dry ingredients with a balloon whisk until well blended.
In a separate bowl - mix together the butter, eggs, honey and buttermilk - again a balloon whisk works best.
Add both mixtures (the dry and wet ingredients) together, mix it all up carefully until combined.
Gently fold in the onion, chili and sweetcorn mixture and ⅔ of the grated cheddar. You should now have a creamy, thick, barely pourable batter.
Pour the batter into the baking tin and bake at 200°C for about 15 minutes.
Remove from the oven to quickly sprinkle the remaining ⅓ of the grated cheese on top.
Return to the oven and bake for another 15 minutes or until the cornbread turns golden brown.
Check that the bread is baked through by inserting a toothpick into the centre – it should come out completely clean.
Allow the bread to cool in the baking tin for about 10 - 15 minutes before you move it onto a wire rack.
What a wonderfully colourful bread! Soft and moist on the inside with a deep golden brown top layer.
This savoury cornbread recipe works really well with soups, starters, grilled meat or salads. Try to fry slices in butter, it’s delicious.
Experiment with the ingredients, take out the chili and just add some fresh herbs such as thyme. Build a basic cornbread batter and add whatever you are in the mood for – sun-dried tomatoes or olives for example. Note that you might need to adjust the amount of buttermilk you use as the consistency of the batter will be determined by the moisture content of your selection of savoury ingredients.
Wrap any leftovers in foil and reheat in the oven for 10 – 15 minutes.
Kleingebäck or Kleinbrote are the German words and classifications for small breads weighing 250g or less. In Austria, Switzerland and Germany there is a huge variety of Kleingebäck – every region and, in fact, every bakery will have their own selection.
Kleinbrote are usually eaten for breakfast or as part of the Jause (Austrian German – a snack or small meal usually eaten mid-morning or in the early evening) and works equally well with sweet or savoury toppings. Salzstangerl are my personal favourite Kleingebäck.
Making Salzstangerl at home is easier than you might think. Go and give it a try!
Ingredients – 12 Salzstangerl
500g plain white flour / bread flour
1 teaspoon of salt
½ teaspoon of sugar
1 tablespoon of dried, instant yeast
250ml lukewarm milk
50g melted butter
(Note: If you would like a lighter end product replace the milk and butter with lukewarm water)
Coarse sea salt
How to make Salzstangerl
Add 100ml of the lukewarm milk, sugar, yeast and 2 tablespoons of flour into a large bowl and mix together. Don’t add the salt or butter at this stage!
Leave to rest in a warm place until the volume has doubled.
Add the remaining ingredients to make the dough and leave to rest again.
Preheat the oven to 200°C.
Divide the dough into 12 equal parts.
Use your palms to form a ball for each of the parts.
Lightly dust a work surface with flour.
Roll out each dough ball into a very flat oval shape.
Hold onto the bottom part of the oval shape with your left hand while rolling the dough from the top part towards the bottom part. The more you squeeze the dough with your right hand while rolling, the longer the Salzstangerl will be.
Put all the pieces onto baking paper onto a baking tray.
Cover with a clean kitchen towel and leave to rest (and grow) in a warm place for 15 mins.
Spray with water and sprinkle with sea salt and caraway seeds.
Bake on the middle shelve of the oven for approximately 15-20 mins.
Cool on a wire rack.
If you want to freeze the Stangerl, parbake them for 10 mins, fully cool them, then freeze. You can then take them out of the freezer whenever you feel like Salzstangerl, put a little water on top and finish baking them in a non-preheated oven.
You can also freeze fully baked Salzstangerl for up to a month.
In fitting with today’s delightfully autumnal weather, I decided to cook a hearty vegetarian curry with butternut squash. As is the case for most dishes, Indian curries taste best if eaten with freshly baked breads. I’ve made this spelt flour chapati recipe many times since visiting India in 2007 and it didn’t let me down today. These homemade spelt chapatis are no hassle at all – you’ll be done in just over an hour.
When visiting Malaysia recently, I picked up a tava (a round flat or slightly concave iron griddle) used in Indian cooking to make flatbreads. I haven’t got the traditional Atta flour handy, so I’m opting for a mix of wholemeal and white spelt flour instead.
Unleavened flatbreads (i.e. made from a dough containing no yeast or leavening agents)
An integral part of the Indian cuisine (also eaten in Pakistan and other parts of South Asia)
Traditionally made with Atta flour (stone ground wholemeal flour which has been sifted to remove the coarsest bran), salt and water. You can use a mixture of wholemeal and white flour if you don’t have Atta flour to hand.
Cooked on a tava (you can also use a flat bottom non-stick frying pan)
Spelt chapati recipe
Ingredients for 6 chapatis
100g finely ground wholemeal spelt flour
100g white spelt flour plus extra for dusting
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon of rapeseed oil plus extra for brushing
How to make the spelt flour chapatis
Before you follow the instructions, here is a video for a quick introduction of the process:
Place the spelt flours, water and salt in a large bowl.
Form a soft dough with your hands. Note that firmer dough is easier to handle but makes harder chapatis. If required, just add a little more water until you get the right consistency.
Add a tablespoon of oil and transfer to a clean surface.
Knead for about 10 minutes.
Shape the dough into a ball, place in a bowl and cover.
Allow to rest for about 30 minutes.
Divide into 6 equal pieces.
Shape the dough into balls by rolling the pieces between your palms.
Place them on a lightly dusted surface.
Roll out the dough balls (one by one) into a thin round on a lightly floured surface.
Heat up a frying pan over a medium heat and place the chapatis (one at a time) straight on the hot surface.
Keep it there for about 30 seconds until blisters appear and it becomes slightly darker in colour.
Turn and cook the other side in the same way. The steam trapped in the middle will cause the chapati to puff up. Use a clean kitchen towel to gently push down as air pockets form.
Once done, lightly brush the chapati with rapeseed oil (traditionally ghee is used) and cover with a clean dish towel until ready to serve.
Enjoy with dhal or your favourite curry – no cutlery needed!
Returning from a work trip mid-week, I discovered that pretty much all of our bread stash (fresh and frozen) had been eaten. Noooo! I had to act quickly and this white spelt flour bread recipe was just perfect. If you need a bread-fix quickly, use this simple recipe for a basic white sandwich loaf to help you get by.
White spelt flour bread recipe (using yeast)
This recipe uses white spelt flour which I prefer using over plain wheat flour, but it will work with any plain white flour you have at home.
What you’ll need to make the white spelt flour loaf –
500g white spelt flour
280ml lukewarm water
7g sachet of dried yeast
How to make the white spelt loaf –
Add all ingredients above into a medium bowl and combine well.
Knead the dough thoroughly and patiently for about 10 minutes (this is the fun part!). The result should be a silky, smooth, elastic dough.
Put the dough back into the bowl and cover with a lid for about an hour or longer until well risen.
Once risen, take the dough out of the bowl and reduce its size again by ‘knocking it back’ (kneading it firmly but briefly to knock the air out).
Shape into a boule and leave on the worktop for 10 minutes to relax the gluten.
Place the dough into a baking tin and cover with a polythene bag to prevent it from drying out.
Let the dough prove at room temperature until it’s doubled in size. This may take an hour in a warm room but longer in a colder room.
Preheat the oven to 220°C about half an hour before baking.
Bake the loaf for 45 minutes.
Cool on a wire rack or wrap in a clean dishtowel if you like a softer crust.
The result –
A great looking white spelt bread loaf – beautiful with butter and strawberry or raspberry jam in the morning. Great also for soaking up the juices from this amazing autumnal casserole dish.
White spelt flour bread recipe (using sourdough)
If you have more time, I would recommend baking the loaf with sourdough instead of yeast. Replace some of the white flour with wholemeal flour, infuse the dough with nigella seeds and you’ll have an entirely new loaf.
Here’s how to make it.
Ingredients for a spelt sourdough loaf –
50g sourdough starter
250g white spelt flour
250g wholemeal spelt flour
280ml lukewarm water
1 tbsp nigella seeds
How to make spelt sourdough bread –
Combine the sourdough starter with 100g white spelt flour, 100g wholemeal spelt flour and 200g water. Mix well and cover with a lid. Keep at room temperature for 16 to 24 hours.
Take 50g of sourdough out of the bowl to put back into the fridge for future sourdough baking before adding the remaining 150g white spelt flour, 150g wholemeal spelt flour, 80g water and 7g salt into the bowl. Follow steps 2 to 10 below but beware that sourdough may take longer to rise. Just before step 6, sprinkle the nigella seeds into the baking tin before placing the dough on top.
My friend Felix from Munich frequently impresses guests with his delicious Flammkuchen, a type of German flatbread with a delicious sour cream, bacon and onion topping. He provided all his Flammkuchen baking insight to me yesterday, so what better way to finish a long week than unwinding with a freshly baked Flammkuchen and a nice glass of Austrian Weißburgunder, watching a movie on the couch wrapped in a cosy blanket – or dressed in one of these (who knew that Tart Flambée T-Shirts were a thing??!). Here is his Flammkuchen recipe for all of you to enjoy!
What is Flammkuchen?
Flammkuchen (or Tarte Flambée in French) is an Alsatian dish – it’s easy to make and you’ll only need a few ingredients. The traditional Flammkuchen toppings are sour cream (Felix recommends crème fraiche as it’s thicker), onions and bacon. I’m planning to experiment with different toppings, but to start with, I go all traditional on this recipe.
Before I jump into the Flammkuchen recipe instructions, a few additional notes on what Flammkuchen is and what it’s not.
Flammkuchen is often referred to as ‘German pizza’, so I just wanted to set the record straight on this one.
Flammkuchen and pizza use the same base dough. The key difference is that Flammkuchen uses a base of sour cream or crème fraiche while pizza comes with tomato sauce. Flammkuchen is also not to be confused with white pizza which is pizza with a cheese base. Cheese is not traditionally used as a topping for Flammkuchen and the bread dough crust is generally thinner when compared to pizza. And… the Flammkuchen shape is usually rectangular or oval rather than round as it is for pizza.
This delicious Flammkuchen recipe is easy to prepare and rewards your work with delicious flavours. The quantities below are for 4 portions.
Course Main Course
Prep Time 2hours30minutes
Cook Time 15minutes
Dough resting time 2hours
Total Time 2hours45minutes
Flammkuchen dough recipe
500gflourI used 400g strong white flour and 100g wholemeal flour; however if you can get your hands on strong 00 flour this will work even better
7g dried yeast
A little olive oil
Flammkuchen sauce and toppings
12 strips of baconcut into small squares or cubes
2onionsfinely sliced into rings
250gcrème fraicheor sour cream
230gnatural Greek Yoghurt
Freshly ground black pepper
How to make Flammkuchen
Combine all dough ingredients in a large bowl to form a rough dough.
Knead the dough for 10 minutes until you have a smooth, elastic, stretchy and velvety dough.
Place the dough back into your bowl and cover with a lid.
Leave to rest for 1 to 2 hours at room temperature (or overnight in the fridge).
Preheat the oven and a baking tray to 250°C (the highest temperature possible) 30 minutes before the bake. If you have a pizza stone, preheat the oven and the pizza stone 1 hour before.
Divide the dough into 4 parts (8 parts for smaller sized Flammkuchen). I use a dough scraper to do this.
Shape each part into a ball and leave to rest for 10 minutes.
Combine the crème fraiche and yoghurt in a small bowl, add the nutmeg, salt and pepper and mix well.
Roll out the dough pieces (2-3 mm) and transfer to sheets of baking paper.
Cover with a clean kitchen towel and leave to rest for about 15 minutes.
Fry the bacon strips briefly until almost cooked, don't let them get crispy.
Fry the onion rings in the same pan until slightly browned.
If you are making all 4 (or 8 small) Flammkuchen but baking only one, two (or a few) at a time, don't add the topping to all of them at once. One by one works better as the topping doesn't melt into the dough that way.
Evenly and generously spread the cream mixture onto the dough (you want a really thick coating in order for the finished product not to be too dry), leave a small border around the edge (this will turn golden-brown and crispy).
Scatter the onion rings and bacon on top and sprinkle with thyme.
Slide the sheet of baking paper with the prepared Flammkuchen onto the preheated baking tray and bake for about 12 minutes or until the edges are nicely browned and the bottom is crisp. Repeat until all Flammkuchen are baked.
If you have leftover dough, you can refrigerate this in cling film and bake more Flammkuchen the next day.
If baking the next day is not an option, you can freeze it too. Roll out the dough into a base and par-bake (for about 3 mins). It needs to be fully cooled before you freeze it. When you feel like a cheeky Flammkuchen, simply take out the base, add the topping and bake again.
Hope you enjoy this Flammkuchen recipe as much as I do, it’s perfect for a night in!
I found our bread basket empty this Sunday morning. Not good! Traditional Irish white soda bread is the perfect loaf for situations like this. It’s very easy to put together, only five basic ingredients are needed and fresh bread will be on your breakfast table in just over an hour.
Quick White Soda Bread Recipe
This quick white soda bread recipe will reward your taste buds and will also fill your kitchen with the most amazing smell of fresh baking. Great things happen when fragrant flour, tangy buttermilk and bicarbonate of soda come together. Bicarbonate of soda is the raising ingredient used in soda bread recipes. As an alkali, it needs an acid to perform its magic – in this case buttermilk, yoghurt or the lemon-milk mix.
White soda bread ingredients
400g plain flour
100g wholemeal wheat flour
15g bicarbonate of soda
400g buttermilk – Both real or cultured buttermilk work. If you can’t get buttermilk, you can also work with yoghurt or souring milk with lemon juice or white wine vinegar. As always when replacing ingredients, you may need to adjust the dough’s hydration to get the desired texture.
Where can I buy real buttermilk in the UK & Ireland?
Real buttermilk is the thick, acidic by-product of butter churning. Cultured buttermilk, as sold in many supermarkets and shops, is made by adding lactic cultures to ordinary milk. Buy real buttermilk in the UK from Longley Farm and in Ireland from Cuinneog.
How to make white soda bread
Preheat the oven to 200°C (gas mark 6). Don’t ignore this step, it’s important that the oven is fully preheated by the time the dough is ready.
Sieve the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a large mixing bowl and mix well. The sifting is important, particularly for the bicarb of soda, as the lumps do not dissolve in the liquid.
Make sure the dry ingredients are mixed evenly, then add the buttermilk. Mix well but minimally i.e. don’t over-mix. Make sure everything is happening swiftly as the bicarbonate of soda will begin to react with the acid buttermilk as soon as they make contact. Working quickly helps you take advantage of all the carbon dioxide produced to lift the dough.
The soda bread dough will be quite soft but that’s just perfect. Shape into a round loaf and flour lightly.
Place the loaf on a baking tray lined with baking paper.
Now make the trademark soda bread cross to divide the loaf into four sections. Cut the dough with a knife to make a deep cross; cut almost fully through the dough (about 80%).
Bake for approx. 45 minutes at 200°C on the top shelf. The loaf is ready when it has a nice brown colour, has risen well and sounds hollow when tapped. Cover with tin foil after 30 minutes if the bread browns too quickly.
Wrap the soda bread loaf in a tea towel while it cools to soften the crust or cool on a wire rack if you like your crust to be crisper.
Best served fresh and eaten on the same day – what a Sunday morning treat!
You can store the soda bread at room temperature for about two to three days. I usually freeze half a loaf and defrost again later in the week. It doesn’t otherwise keep that well. Freshen the defrosted bread by placing it in the oven for a few minutes before serving.
Also try this delicious brown soda bread recipe which is a much more wholesome version of the above basic white soda bread.
Any visit to my husband’s grandmother’s house would see the obligatory cup of Barry’s Tea accompanied by a slice of brown soda bread topped with generous amounts of Kerry Gold butter and raspberry jam. Happy memories!