While burger buns and finger rolls are mainstays in the BBQ repertoire, flat-breads are seen far less often, despite the joy of being able to eat them whilst still warm, fresh from the grill. You can cook these on the hob in a frying or griddle pan, but there’s something special about the depth of flavour from the blackened pockets, and central softness from the speed of cooking, when you cook them on a BBQ.
Furthermore, they are the perfect encouragement to tempt people away from a myopic sausage and burger-based concept of BBQ’s and towards are more exciting array of grilled goodies. After all, whilst it is perfectly possible to put a sausage in a flat-bread, they are really crying out to be packed with vibrant salads or dunked into delicious dips (and would you know, I have some recipes that would be ideal; try my BBQ Baba Ganoush recipe or my Tandoori tofu skewers).
The method is pretty straight forward. If you are using fresh yeast, you’ll need to crumble this into the flour then rub in in as if you were making shortcrust pastry, then add the rest of the ingredients and mix into a shaggy dough. If using dried yeast, you’ll need to activate it first, which simply involves mixing the yeast and the warm water together and leaving for 5 mins or so. The key here is to get the water at the right temperature – too cold and the yeast won’t activate, but too hot and it’ll kill the yeast. Between 37 and 43C is ideal, which should feel warm to touch but definitely not hot. If you are unsure and don’t have a thermometer, then I find that 70% room temperature water and 30% boiling water gets me to around 40C, but always test with your finger as well, as room temperature can vary. After 5 minutes the yeast and water mixture should be frothy on top, and you can mix it together with the rest of the ingredients.
The dough then requires kneading for 8–10 minutes, which helps develop the gluten. The easiest way to do this is on a floured or oiled surface; stretch the dough away from you with the heel of your palm then fold it back towards you. Repeat this, turning the dough by 90 degrees every now and then until it’s smooth and pliable. Place in an oiled bowl and cover in cling-film to prove until it has doubled in size. Assuming you are making these on a lovely warm BBQ-appropriate day then it should only take an hour or even less. In colder weather it’ll be more like an hour and a half.
Once the dough has doubled in size, remove it from the bowl and onto a floured surface, and divide into 8 roughly equal pieces. Roll each one out until it’s about 0.5 cm thick, and stack on a well-floured plate, ensuring you use liberal amounts of flour in between each flat-bread to prevent them sticking together. Then it’s simply a case of getting them on the grill. On a hot BBQ they should only take a couple of minutes on each side – when you see bubbles emerging on top of the dough it’s time to flip them, then give them another minute or two on the other side until there is no obvious raw dough and plenty of charred patches. Cover with a tea towel while you cook the rest of the flat-breads – the steam will help them soften.
There are so many ways you can use these flat-breads; they are perfect for ripping and dipping into baba ganoush or muhammara, or to enfold Mediterranean delights such as falafel, tabbouleh, and hummus. They would be ideal slathered in mango chuntey and raita, as a wrap for tandoori tofu, finished with a handful of lemony coriander. My little cousins, who refuse to eat anything with too much flavour, happily chomp away at them by themselves. For additional excitement you could knead in a handful of soft fresh herbs (e.g. parsley, mint, coriander, dill, taragon) before you divide and shape the dough, or some nigella seeds or cumin seeds for a bit of aromatic interest. For even more indulgence you could brush them with garlic butter (I would recommend one clove of garlic, minced and mixed with 50g softened Naturli Vegan Block and a pinch of salt), or a mixture of minced garlic and olive oil.
Please let me know if you give these a go! I’d love to see how many different ways you can think of to use them – you can comment below or tag me on Instagram @greedybearbakes.
Soft, chewy and charred flat-breads; for perfect for BBQ-ing
Vegan, Nut-free, Soya-free
- 500g plain flour
- 10g fresh yeast OR 1 tsp dried yeast
- 300ml luke-warm water
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
- If you are using dried yeast, mix 1 tsp dried yeast with 300ml luke-warm water (37–43C) and leave for 5 minutes or so until frothy, then mix with all of the rest of the ingredients. If using fresh yeast, measure 500g flour into a large bowl then crumble in the yeast and rub it in, as if you were rubbing fat and flour to make shortcrust pastry. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until you have a shaggy dough.
- Tip the dough onto a floured or oiled surface, and knead for 8–10 minutes until smooth and pliable. Transfer to an oiled bowl and leave to prove until doubled in size, which should take 1–1½ hours.
- Once doubled in size, tip the dough onto a floured surface and divide into 8 roughly equal pieces. Use a rolling pin to roll each one out into a vaguely circular shape until it’s about 0.5 cm thick. Transfer to a plate and repeat, ensuring you flour liberally between each flat-bread to prevent them sticking together.
- Cook directly on a hot BBQ grill, or if using a griddle pan on the hob, ensure it’s very hot and cook one at a time. Once the top of the bread is bubbling up (1-2 minutes on a very hot grill) flip it and cook if for another couple of minutes on the other side. When the flat-bread is done you should have an array of charred grill-marks and blackened bubbles. Place under a tea towel to soften before eating.