The first time I was ever introduced to flatbreads was through an employer of mine back in Canada. I was in my late teens/early twenties and I was employed by a wonderful family originally from Tehran. One of the brothers used to tell me stories of his childhood in Iran, of the orange tree that grew outside his bedroom window and of the doves who used to sit in the orange tree and coo. He learnt to mimic their cooing and he used to absent-mindedly coo at work. It was a lovely noise. He really did sound like a dove.
He called us Westerners cake-eaters because of our fondness for processed white bread which resembles cake more than bread. He made his own flatbreads. I remember him telling me his recipe once, and I wish I had written it down then. When he was a child, he said, they used to have flatbreads stuffed with cheese for lunch.
I remember one time when they brought a bag filled with green almonds to work. There is only a brief period of the year in the Spring when green almonds are available; before their shells start to harden and brown into the almond we are familiar with. I’ve never seen them available in the supermarkets. I am under the impression that they are sold, lucratively, from the back doors of Middle Eastern grocers to a select few as they are such a delicacy. That day we had green almonds with salt and flatbread for lunch. It’s a very fond memory.
I made these baladi breads today for my family, much to their delight. I wanted them to be authentic so I went for the from-scratch approach, opting not to use the bread machine and its handy dough setting. I am glad I did as these beautiful soft little breads puffed up wonderfully forming a large pocket inside perfect for stuffing. I felt like I made a work of art out of them, something I’d like to think my Iranian employer would have been proud of me for.
This re-written recipe comes from Claudia Roden’s A New Book of Middle Eastern Cookery, where she describes baladi as the wholemeal version of khubz (eish shami), commonly known to us Westerners as pitta bread.
This month’s Fresh from the Oven food bloggers’ challenge, hosted by Michelle Utterly Scrummy Food for Families challenges us to make and share our pitta bread recipes, so I have entered this recipe into the challenge (which is co-hosted by Claire from Purely Food). The challenge is Blog Hop, so do scroll down to see what everyone else is making.
- 7 grams active dried yeast
- 300 ml tepid water
- fat pinch sugar
- 165 grams wholemeal bread flour
- 335 grams strong white bread flour
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1 tbsp olive oil
Prep time: Cook time: Total time: Yield: Makes 8 pitta breads