Flatbreads bake in minutes. The dough need
not be special because the crucial factors of making flatbread are how
the loaf is rolled and the speed at which it bakes. To create the
blistered surface and inflated pocket of a classic flatbread, roll the
dough to no thicker than 1/4". At this thickness, most of the air
bubbles in the dough are dispersed horizontally. When the flat loaf is
laid on a hot surface, such as the floor of a preheated oven, or an
inverted baking sheet, the bottom surface sets up instantly.
Air trapped in the dough expands, and all of
the bubbles sitting side by side flow into one another, forming one big
air pocket. The air pocket begins to grow, causing the still-flexible
top of the loaf to separate from the bottom. This is the principle
behind pita pockets.
Flatbread loaves are baked one or two at a
time and then cooled and stacked. As they cool, the air pockets deflate
and the breads become flat, but the pockets are still there, allowing
each flatbread to be opened up into a vessel that can hold any number of
To make flatbread at home, divide 1 pound of
bread dough into 4 equal portions and roll each portion into a ball. On
a floured board, flatten the balls with your hands and roll with a
rolling pin into flat rounds, approximately 8" in diameter and 1/8"
thick. Place the flattened bread rounds on a lightly floured cloth.
Cover this with another floured cloth and set in a warm spot to rest
about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Place a
baking sheet, upside down, in the oven and preheat for 5 minutes. Place
one or two rounds at a time on the back of the hot, dry pan. Cook for 3
to 4 minutes.
The bread will swell in the middle and color
lightly; do not overcook to reach a dark brown color. Remove from the
oven and wrap in a clean cloth to keep moist. The swelling will
disappear when the bread is removed from the oven. Continue with the