“The smell of good bread baking, like the sound of lightly flowing water, is indescribable in its evocation of innocence and delight," said M.F.K. Fisher. How beautifully true is that? Bread is art, history, culture, love, passion, and life, meshed all into one. The very process of making it, from scratch, has got to be one of the greatest pleasures on earth... the smell of yeasty dough, the gentle sound it makes while kneading, the pouf of air as it's punched down after rising, the sweetness of it filling the air as it's baking.... I could go on and on, lol. But yes I get it. We live in a fast-paced world, and few of us have time or patience to labor over bread-making.
But what if I told you you could tap into the bliss of bread making using only 2 ingredients? I kid you not - a delicate, flat but fluffy, springy bread that is kneaded, molded and cooked in the spot, right over the stove. Believe me? You should. What you'll need? Self-raising flour and yogurt. And maybe a tad of oil or butter to slightly grease your skillet. This bread to me felt like a strange balance between Indian naan and Middle Eastern pita, where it's less greasy than the former and slightly chewier than the latter. A bready-birth-child of the two. Enter fusion :)
**A little note on self-raising flour though - I live in Cairo, and it's sometimes hard to find. You can, however, make your own self raising flour by adding a teaspoon of baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt to every cup of plain flour.
I make this on solitary weekend mornings, enjoy it piping hot, and freeze the rest of the batch. This recipe makes around 6 medium sized loafs or 4 large ones, depending on your fancy :)
2 cups self-raising flour (see note above)
1 3/4 cups plain yogurt
In a large bowl, combine flour and yogurt together with a wooden spoon.
Note: if you’re making your own self raising flour, add salt and baking powder to your plain flour and mix well, before adding the yogurt.
Once the dough starts to resemble a ball, roll out onto a heavily floured surface, and start to knead. it might get sticky, in which case add a spoon of flour.
Once dough is incorporated, divide into 4 to 6 pieces, and roll each into a ball.
Heat a flat skillet (note: I have an old iron skillet i use just for this bread. A word of advice would be not to use something too new, as the flour from the dough often permanently sticks to the cast) to maximum heat, and gently brush with oil (only a little bit!).
Take the first ball of dough, flour the surface, and roll it out until its a disc about 5mm thick. Gently lift the disc, and lay it onto your skillet. Reduce heat to medium high, and wait until thick bubbles start to appear on the surface. Flip over with a spatula, and press down. You'll find the bread will gently start to inflate -- thats okay! That means its cooking on the inside and rising.
Flip again until adequately browned on both sides, and remove. Set on a plate, and cover with a clean towel.
Wipe the surface of the skillet with a paper towel, and repeat the process with the other balls of dough.
Now, you can eat these hot -- we do! -- or, if you'd rather freeze them and thaw later, you can do that too. This bread also works with wholemeal flour, and if you'd like to add seeds or raisins to the dough itself, go ahead :). Enjoy!