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Middle Eastern Flatbread Dough

(recipe, Nick Malgieri)

Introduction

It would be entirely possible to write a very thick book only on the subject of Middle Eastern flatbreads, so this recipe just skims the surface. I'm happy with the results of using the same dough for both thick and thin flatbreads used respectively as table breads or as wraps for a variety of accompaniments.

Ingredients

  1. 3 cups bread flour or unbleached all-purpose flour (spoon into a dry-measure cup and level off; see Note)
  2. 2 tsp. salt
  3. 2½ tsp. (1¼-ounce envelope) active dry yeast
  4. 1⅓ cups warm tap water, about 110 degrees
  5. 2 Tbsp. olive oil

Steps

  1. Mix the flour and salt together and set aside.
  2. Whisk the yeast into the water in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook. Wait 2 minutes, then whisk again to make sure it's completely dissolved. Whisk in the oil.
  3. Stir in about half the flour mixture until smooth, then stir in the rest. Beat on medium speed until fairly smooth, about 3 minutes. Stop the mixer and let the dough rest for 10 minutes.
  4. Beat on low speed again until the dough is smoother and somewhat elastic, about 3 additional minutes.
  5. Scrape the dough into an oiled bowl and turn it over (it's very soft, so it's best to use a flexible scraper) so that the top is oiled. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let the dough rest until it starts to puff, 15 to 20 minutes.
  6. Scrape the dough to a lightly floured work surface. Pat and stretch the dough into a rectangle 3 times longer than it is wide. Fold one third of the dough over the middle section, then fold the other side over that.
  7. Turn the dough 90 degrees and repeat stretching and folding.
  8. Return the dough to the bowl (it may be necessary to oil the bowl again) and turn it over so that the top is oiled. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough rise until it has doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
  9. The soft dough might be difficult to shape, so flour the work surface well to prevent sticking. Form large flatbreads on a rimless cookie sheet, flexible cutting board, or piece of stiff cardboard to facilitate transfer to the pan.
  10. Use the dough to make Ekmek (Basic Turkish Flatbread).

Note

This very soft dough needs to develop quite a lot of elasticity and smoothness or it won't rise well in the oven. Use bread flour for the best results. Don't let the dough rise more than indicated in the recipe at any point or it might over-ferment slightly and not rise well in the oven. Make sure to have any ingredients necessary for topping or finishing the dough ready when you start to prepare it, or the dough might over-ferment while waiting.