I’ve been dipping my toe into bread baking after starting the memoir In Search of the Perfect Loaf, by Samuel Fromartz. It’s a fascinating book about an amateur bread baker who learns to make the perfect at-home baguette after traveling to France, California, and a few places yet to be revealed. The book also includes recipes, including a flatbread one that’s pretty similar to the one below (his is in grams, and I don’t have a digital scale yet).
When I was searching for a flat bread recipe, I wanted to make the simplest version I could find. I stumbled across a traditional recipe, with no sugar, yogurt, butter, or anything to complicate things. All this flatbread dough needs is a little time (around an hour) and an awesome soup or stew to go with it, like my All Week Lentil Soup (pictured below).
These chapatti are simple and delicious when dotted with a pad of butter and eaten warm. Next time I make them I’m going to experiment throwing them on the open burner for a few seconds after they cook like Fromartz does to his flatbread for a more toasty flavor.
Next up on the bread baking journey is buying a digital scale, a round proofing basket, and a bench scraper. Then, once I gain the courage, I’ll start out by making my sourdough starter, which I’ve failed at multiple times. After reading some of this book, I’m coming to understand that the bacteria in the air isn’t strong enough to create sourdough on its own. Natural bacteria and yeast from raw (unpasteurized) honey will help get me there. I plan on posting a recipe for the starter if it works. Wish me luck.
And here’s an great excerpt from the book if you’ve been struggling to keep a sourdough starter alive like me. Fromartz says, “To make sourdough starter, remember, you are a farmer, not a cook! You are creating conditions for your microscopic animals to live happily. If you keep that in mind, the process will go a little more smoothly.”
Here’s to the beginning of this chapter in bread making. Hope you enjoy making these homemade chapattis as much as I did.
Indian Flat Bread (or Chapatti)
Makes 8 flatbreads
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil
3/4 cup warm water
Combine all ingredients. Mix dough until it comes together and rest for at least a half hour.
Place on floured surface. Knead until dough is shiny, folding the dough on top of each other as you spread it out with the heel of your hand. Sprinkle with flour if it’s too sticky. Let rest for 30 minutes while lentil soup is cooking
Divide dough into 8 pieces, cutting with a knife or bench scraper. Roll each piece into a ball and roll out with a rolling pin until 1/8 inch thick (or 8-9 inches in diameter).
Get pan very hot until smoking. Add olive oil and disk. Flip after 30-60 seconds. Keep cooked chapattis covered with a towel until you are ready to eat. They’re best when eaten immediately, but if you have leftovers you can store in the fridge for up to 3 days.