Flatbread is the most flavorful kind of sourdough. That’s because there is a high crust-to-bread ratio. It’s also fast to bake. When the sourdough culture has been fed flour and water several times and is ready for baking, I first save 8 oz of the culture in it’s storage jar, feed it more flour and water, and let it sit on the countertop for an hour. Then I add salt, water and my hand ground whole wheat flour to the dough and knead for about five minutes. When I make flatbread, I give the dough a bench rest to relax the gluten. Then I flatten it out and moisten the top with olive oil using wet hands. To prevent pita pockets from forming I use my Uzbeki bread stamp to poke holes in the dough after it has risen and bake the bread. My Kindle edition of “Wild Bread” is only $9.99. Also, I now have a YouTube channel. More free videos forthcoming!
Here in the Southwest, Hopi-bred blue corn is a staple food. Blue cornmeal makes the most delicious pancakes. Sourdough pancakes are very easy and the sourdough adds an even greater depth of flavor. Of course, my pancakes are vegan.
A loaf of my whole wheat sourdough flatbread stamped with a bread stamp I bought from Uzbekistan. I bought the stamp on Etsy. Bread stamps prevent flatbreads from developing pockets like pita bread.; it’s the same principal as when I use a fork to keep pizza crust flat. You stamp the bread after it has risen, right before you bake it. Central Asian bread stamps are particularly artistic and come in many different designs, often with a floral look.
Part II: Making a healthy sourdough pizza
See Part I here.
The sourdough pizza crust
Sourdough pizza is healthier than pizza made with baker’s yeast. The lactic acid bacteria in the sourdough culture provide myriad health benefits. Our pizza crust is also part whole wheat flour (we’re moving towards 100%). Whole grains are also much healthier than refined carbohydrates. Furthermore, I hand grind my flour, so it tastes sweet. Freshly-ground whole grain flour is healthier than store-bought whole grain flour. Store bought whole wheat flour tastes rancid to me. It doesn’t matter whether the flour comes from the bulk bin of a natural food store or is a well-known national brand. The highly polyunsaturated oil in wheat germ goes rancid as quickly as flax and hemp oils do, within weeks.
My pizza-making steps
- Preheat oven to 550ºF. Prepare pizza toppings. Steam broccoli.
- Half-bake crust at 525ºF for 10 minutes (at 7,000 feet).
- First photo: Spread on sauce. Add toppings except for broccoli, bake pizza another 10 minutes.
- Turn off oven, take out baked pizza (second photo), sprinkle on vegan cheese, place back in oven a few minutes to melt cheese.
- Remove pizza from oven and place on cooling rack (I slide the pizza off a parchment paper-covered pizza pan).
- Third photo: Place steamed broccoli on top.
- Allow pizza to cool at least 20 minutes before slicing to ensure that the crust finishes baking; as bread cools, the starches gelatinize, forming the final crumb (texture) of the bread.
For Christmas, my mother made Hungarian pastry-like cookies called kiffles or kiflis (pronounced “KEE-flees”). She stuffed them with two traditional fillings: apricot jam and sweetened ground walnuts. The plate is Hungarian, too, purchased during one of our family trips to Hungary.
The original kiffles are made with yeast dough. Newer recipes are made with baker’s yeast, baking powder or no riser at all, like pie dough. It’s easy to convert baker’s yeast versions to sourdough. I explain how to convert baker’s yeast recipes to sourdough versions in Wild Bread: Handbaked sourdough artisan breads in your own kitchen.
To make kiffles, you roll out a paper-thin triangle of dough, place a dollop of filling on it, roll it up and bake it. Sometimes the cooled cookies are rolled in powdered sugar. Other traditional fillings include ground poppy seeds and lekvar (prune) jam/butter.
The pastry originated with the Ottoman Turks when Hungary was part of the Ottoman Empire. There are many Turkish desserts with similar nut and fruit fillings.
I made a super simple variation of sourdough cinnamon rolls yesterday. I was multitasking and wanted a pastry that didn’t require a lot of time to make, so I made a large turnover / calzone / empanada. I had actually made the plain artisan dough a couple of days ago, but then something came up and I couldn’t bake it, so I put the dough in the refrigerator.
Sourdough will keep just fine in the refrigerator for several days. When I took it out and let it warm up to room temperature on the kitchen counter, it became bubbly and active. I lightly kneaded it with as little additional flour as possible. After a short bench rest to relax the gluten, I rolled out the dough into an oval. On one side I spread softened vegan butter (Earth Balance), then sprinkled on unbleached sugar (evaporated cane juice), cinnamon, and pecan pieces. I moved the dough to a baking sheet and flipped the plain dough half over the top. I used a fork to close the edges and poke holes in the dough.
The turnover was barely cooled down when we started eating it. Delicious. More like really good cinnamon toast than gooey sweet rolls because of the higher bread-to-filling ratio, with a texture somewhere in between the two.