Bonfires are great. They are even greater if they’re accompanied by food. And what food! Masterly made, with a pinch of love and a bit of sacrifice (if baking them in 30 degree heat is not a sacrifice, than what is?) – flatbreads baked in a bonfire.
Last Saturday, I was invited by Zielony Puszczyk association to participate in their event in Puszcza Niepołomicka (Niepolomice Forest). The gathering was called Pożegnanie Bociana (The Stork Farewell), and it symbolically marked the end of summer: the storks will soon be departing from Poland and undertaking an epic journey to Africa, where they will spend the next few months until their return in spring.
And so there were forest walks, night moth watching, owl education, arts and crafts and our stall – Pracownia Tokoro‘s Smakowanie Lasu (Tasting the Forest).
Our goal was to bring the forest to the table so everyone can have a taste of it: we had a nettle and lemon cake, tomato and ground ivy salsa, edible flower shortbreads, elderberry lemonade, rowanberry focaccia, and – baked in the bonfire – nigella seed and ground ivy flatbreads.
To make a decent flatbread is fairly easy. To make a great one – takes mastery that comes from experience. Don’t be disheartened, then, if the first batch of the flatbreads you attempt to produce turns out to be a total disaster. Eat it anyway, or dry them hard and grind into breadcrumbs (if they are horrible that is). And keep trying.
To truly appreciate bread, one has to attempt to make it at least once. Flatbreads are great to start one’s adventure with bread making. You’ll get a taste of what working with yeast is, you’ll sweat when kneading the dough, and you will try your patience while waiting for it to prove. But give it a go. Nothing more satisfying than homemade bread for breakfast. Or dinner. Or whatever time you’ll feel like making some.
Flatbreads with Nigella Seeds and Ground Ivy
3 cups of strong wheat flour
1 cup of lukewarm water
1 level tbsp of dried yeast
1tsp of sugar
1 heaped tbsp Nigella seeds
2tbsp chopped ground ivy
HOW TO MAKE?
1. Mix flour and salt well in a big bowl.
2. Add lukewarm water, sugar and yeast to a bowl and mix until dissolved. Cover with a cloth and set aside for about 10-15 minutes to prove.
3. Add yeast mixture to a bowl with flour and salt and mix with your hands or a wooden spoon until just combined. Move to a pastry board. Try not to use additional flour, only if the dough is loose.
4. Work the dough with your hands for about 5 minutes.
5. Once the dough becomes a little elastic start folding it to the middle: to do so, pick up and stretch one side of the dough and bring it back towards the middle, repeat with each four sides. Try to have your dough in a nice, round shape while folding and working it. Each time you fold one of the sides, make sure to punch the dough with some strength against your pastry board. Don’t be shy.
6. You will see when your dough is ready: it will feel soft and elastic, smell of fresh yeast and it won’t stick to your fingers or pastry board anymore.
7. Place the dough in a bowl, cover with a cloth or a shower cap and set aside to prove for at least an hour. It should double in size.
8. After an hour, take out your dough onto a pastry board and divide into 5 even pieces.
9. Work each of the pieces into a perfectly round shape – it will help with getting them into circle shape when rolling. Place the rounds on a floured surface and cover them with a towel to prevent them from drying out. Let the dough rest for at least 10 minutes.
10. Flour your pastry board slightly and roll each of your pieces into a circle.
11. To bake:
BONFIRE: Preheat the 20-25cm frying pan on the bonfire. Simply place it on the wire rack (make sure the rack is really low, almost touching the fire) and wait until it reaches right temperature for baking flatbreads (we want it HOT). Add one of the flatbreads onto a hot frying pan and bake on each side for about 2-3 minutes. The bread should puff up a bit, and brown (even slightly burn) nicely on the outside.
OVEN: Preheat the oven to 220 degrees Celsius (function up and down), make sure to leave a baking tray or a frying pan inside to heat up as well. Once hot, place your flatbreads on the hot pan or baking tray and bake for about 5-6 minutes without turning.
12. Serve with olive oil, chopped herbs (i.e. parsley, ground ivy) and crumbled feta cheese.
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