You, my friend, like to make people smile.
Handing your loved ones a fresh, warm, home-baked treat is a baker’s equivalent of a novelist submitting a manuscript for publication. For us, hearing “OH, my goodness, that’s delicious!” is the equivalent of a writer hearing “Here’s your Pulitzer Prize.” Or maybe…
…with the Olympics just behind us, it’s the same as winning that medal. You feel the pride in your hard work, the joy of accomplishment, the warmth of knowing your work makes others happy. It’s all good.
I know for me, being able to walk into the kitchen on a Sunday afternoon, when the family is hanging around watching the game, or working on projects, and whipping up something warm and satisfying gives me absolute joy. Puttering about gathering ingredients calms me, yet energizes me at the same time.
Recently I bopped into the kitchen with the recipe for Skillet Flatbreads secure in my head, and within 30 minutes we were gathered around a tray of warm breads, cheeses, garden-fresh tomatoes and other goodies.
Each person lavished on their favorite toppings. We chatted a bit while we ate, my husband, my daughter and her boyfriend, and I. It didn’t take long to finish off the batch, and we slowly melted back to our respective tasks; but those few minutes together were as precious as any ever spent. They were my gold metal, my Agatha award, my Ig Nobel Prize*.
So, let’s get you headed towards the podium, too, with this recipe for Skillet Flatbreads.
The recipe has endless variations, and here we’ll be making the rye version. You’ll find it listed at the bottom of the regular recipe, so don’t panic if you don’t see it until you scroll down.
In a large mixing bowl, place:
*2 cups (8 1/2 ounces) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
*1 cup Perfect Rye Flour blend (or your favorite rye flour)
*1 1/2 teaspoons salt
*2 teaspoons baking powder
*2 to 3 teaspoons Deli Rye Flavor (optional but very, very good)
Whisk the dry ingredients together well.
Add 1 cup cold water and 3 tablespoons vegetable oil or light olive oil.
Blend together until you have a soft dough. It won’t be very smooth like yeast dough, it’ll be more rough, like biscuit dough.
See what I mean? At this point you’re really looking at one giant baking powder biscuit, but the key will be in the frying.
Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature for 10 minutes.
Use this time to gather your topping ingredients. Here I’ve got red onion, fresh garden tomatoes, softened cream cheese, and chives cut from the plant outside of our test kitchen.
To cook the flatbreads, heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add a tablespoon of oil and heat until it just begins to shimmer.
Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces and shape into rough rounds with your hands. You can, of course, break out the rolling pin, but I found little difference in the cooking and no difference in the texture, so I just go with hand shaping.
Place 2 to 4 rounds in your pan, and fry until they’re golden brown on the underside, about 3 to 4 minutes.
Flip the breads and cook for another couple of minutes until browned on both sides. Remove the hot breads to a cooling rack and repeat to cook the rest of the breads. Add more oil as needed, to keep the breads from sticking and to aid in frying.
Ring the dinner bell and have the gang come on the run to eat these breads while they’re still hot. As my husband would say, “Pardon my boardinghouse reach” as you pass, grab, and gather the goodies for your personal version of heaven on a plate.
All the goodness of a hearty rye bagel without hours of work, and without turning the oven on, either
I kind of hate to tell you just how good this was. It would be kind of mean to say how the rye flavor wafted through the air, how the cream cheese started to melt onto the bread, contrasting with the sharp crunch and bite of the onion. Not to mention how the delicate chives burst with flavor as you chewed the soft, fluffy, warm bread. No, I won’t put you through that.
I hope you try all the different versions of this recipe. Hearty rye, spicy pizza dough, plain, and perfect. Even better, share your ideas for versions in the comments below. I haven’t tried any sweet variations yet, so I’d love to hear your ideas. Who knows, I may even send you a medal!
*What is an Ig Nobel Prize? It’s given each year to scientific achievements that first make you laugh, and then make you think. Like proving that needing to use the bathroom affects your decision-making; or that fleas living on dogs will jump higher than fleas living on cats. Long live science!
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