Deutsch: Fladenbrot / Español: Pan plano / Português: Pão achatado / Français: Pain plat / Italiano: Pane piatto

Flatbread is a type of bread that is made with flour, water, and salt, and then thoroughly rolled into flattened dough. Flatbread is one of the oldest forms of bread, with variations found in many cultures around the world.

Description

Flatbread is characterized by its simple ingredients and versatile usage. It can be cooked in various ways, including baking, frying, or grilling. Some flatbreads are leavened, meaning they contain yeast or another leavening agent, while others are unleavened. The texture and flavor of flatbread can vary widely depending on the ingredients used and the cooking method. Common types of flatbread include pita, naan, tortilla, and lavash.

Flatbreads are integral to many cuisines and are often used as a base for toppings, wraps for fillings, or simply eaten on their own. They are known for their quick preparation time and ability to complement a wide variety of dishes, making them a staple in many cultures.

Special Varieties

Some notable varieties of flatbread include:

  • Pita: A Middle Eastern flatbread that can be split to form a pocket, commonly used for sandwiches.
  • Naan: An Indian leavened flatbread, typically cooked in a tandoor oven, often served with curries and stews.
  • Tortilla: A thin, unleavened flatbread from Mexico, made from corn or wheat flour, used for dishes like tacos, burritos, and quesadillas.
  • Lavash: A soft, thin flatbread from Armenia and the Middle East, often used to wrap kebabs or served with dips.
  • Chapati: An unleavened flatbread from India, made from whole wheat flour, commonly served with various Indian dishes.

Application Areas

Flatbreads are utilized in various ways across different cuisines:

  • Sandwiches and Wraps: Flatbreads like pita and tortillas are commonly used to make sandwiches and wraps, filled with a variety of meats, vegetables, and sauces.
  • Accompaniments: Flatbreads such as naan and chapati are often served as side dishes to accompany main courses, particularly in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisine.
  • Pizza Base: Flatbreads like lavash and pita can be used as a base for pizzas, topped with various ingredients.
  • Dips and Spreads: Flatbreads are frequently served with dips and spreads such as hummus, baba ganoush, and tzatziki.
  • Main Dishes: In some cultures, flatbreads are a central component of main dishes, such as quesadillas or stuffed naan.

Well-Known Examples

  • Mediterranean Cuisine: Pita bread is a staple in Mediterranean cuisine, often used for making gyros and falafel wraps.
  • Indian Cuisine: Naan and chapati are essential parts of Indian meals, commonly paired with curries, dals, and chutneys.
  • Mexican Cuisine: Tortillas are the foundation of many Mexican dishes, including tacos, enchiladas, and burritos.
  • Middle Eastern Cuisine: Lavash and pita are frequently used in Middle Eastern dishes, serving as wraps for kebabs or as accompaniments to mezze platters.

Recipes

Here are a couple of simple flatbread recipes to try at home:

Pita Bread

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 packet active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Instructions:

  1. Dissolve the yeast in warm water and let it sit for about 5 minutes until frothy.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour and salt.
  3. Add the yeast mixture and olive oil to the flour and mix until a dough forms.
  4. Knead the dough on a floured surface for about 5 minutes until smooth.
  5. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover, and let it rise for about 1 hour.
  6. Preheat the oven to 230°C (450°F).
  7. Divide the dough into small balls and roll each one into a flat circle.
  8. Bake for 5-7 minutes until the pitas puff up and turn golden brown.

Naan

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 packet active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp melted butter

Instructions:

  1. Dissolve the yeast and sugar in warm water and let it sit for about 5 minutes until frothy.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour and salt.
  3. Add the yeast mixture and yogurt to the flour and mix until a dough forms.
  4. Knead the dough on a floured surface for about 5 minutes until smooth.
  5. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover, and let it rise for about 1 hour.
  6. Divide the dough into small balls and roll each one into a flat oval shape.
  7. Heat a griddle or skillet over medium-high heat.
  8. Cook each naan for 2-3 minutes on each side until browned and puffy, brushing with melted butter.

Similar Terms

  • Bread: A broader category that includes flatbreads as well as other types of bread such as loaves and rolls.
  • Crackers: A type of flat, dry bread that is often used as a snack or with cheese and spreads.
  • Pizza Dough: Similar to flatbread dough but often thicker and used specifically as a base for pizza.

Summary

Flatbread is a versatile and ancient type of bread enjoyed in many cultures around the world. From the soft and chewy naan of India to the thin and crispy tortillas of Mexico, flatbreads offer a wide range of textures and flavors that make them a staple in many culinary traditions. Whether used as a wrap, an accompaniment, or a base for toppings, flatbreads continue to be a beloved and essential part of global cuisine.

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