Written by Hussina Raja
Photography by Jenny Matthews
We’re already more than halfway through our Just Bread journey. Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve experimented with different types of bread and celebrated Eid whilst making bread. This week we delve into learning a new recipe – flatbread!
Today it’s all hands on deck as soon as we arrive at the Roasthouse, a quick breakfast followed by Jean ushering us into positions for cutting and shaping the dough he mixed this morning. It’s week 3 of the Just Bread subscription and our subscribers are being treated to our moreish flatbread. A versatile bread that is popular in many countries and commonly found in the Middle East. It can be a great accompaniment to soup or is delicious when simply topped with hummus, feta and olives.
We assemble ourselves into position and organically a production line forms with us each taking turns to slice small chunks weighing 95g and rolling them into balls. Jean shares a tip – dust one side with flour, leaving the other side sticky, so the friction against the table and our hands help form the perfect ball.
We have 120 flatbreads to bake in the space of an hour and a half, so there’s no time to lose. The balls are left to rest a little and settle in their new form. During that time we all gather to mix a big batch of dough for the flatbread class Jean is delivering in the evening to an eager group of novice and avid bakers.
This is also an opportunity for the trainees’ to get confident with measuring and making the dough when at home, enabling them to transfer the recipes to their dinner tables and guests.
Milled white flour
Stoneground white flour
The trainees work together to combine the dry ingredients with the wet ingredients, and soon Diane is wrist deep mixing the ingredients into a sticky dough. In order for this dough to be ready for the workshop tonight, it needs some time to develop and breathe.
We retrieve the balls of dough and get rolling. The group make a brilliant team. With 45 minutes to go, we divide ourselves sharing the duties of immersing the balls in flour, followed by some of us flattening and rolling the dough into circles using rolling pins.
The key is to be gentle and not to use much force, to evenly distribute the weight of the rolling pin so the dough is equal in size and shape.
Six round moons are slapped onto a wooden tray and swiftly taken by another trainee to the clay oven, where the next person is ready and waiting to bake the flatbread.
In no time at all, about a minute to be precise, the dough has risen and the hot, steamy flatbread emerges from the hot, firey oven.
We create stacks of 5 and bag them while they’re still hot. Jean explains that this is the perfect way to maintain the heat and give the flatbread the room it needs to expand even further.
It smells incredible, the texture is soft and the bread warm and dusty. It’s now ready for our customers to collect and enjoy!
We head off for lunch and finish the day with sweet treats over a Food Safety course. The trainees’ learn about basic food hygiene, how to maintain a safe working environment at home, in the workplace, and how to handle food at the right temperature, and with caution. A useful introduction for the trainees’ self-development and interest in food handling.