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Flatbreads on the Grill

Make an easy dough, shape it (and fill it if you like), then throw it on the grill. Hot fresh bread; cool summer kitchen.

by Mary Karlin

fromFine Cooking
Issue 105

When the weather warms up, even die-hard bakers don’t often think about making bread. But flatbreads are a delicious exception, since there’s no need to crank up the oven—a few minutes on the grill and they’re hot and toasty. Wonderful plain or filled with melting cheeses, spices, fresh herbs, and citrus zest, these tender, chewy, and perfectly charred breads are ideal to wrap around burgers, soak up juices, or scoop up homemade dips. Just be sure you have some extra dough on standby—once the first batch has disappeared, everyone will be at the grill for more.

Humidity and Flour

Don’t worry if you end up using more flour than these recipes call for. The humidity level in your kitchen affects the moisture in the dough; if it’s too sticky you’ll have to add more flour.

A World of Flatbreads

Perhaps the only consistent thing about flatbreads is that, well, they’re flat. Beyond this, they come in a plethora of shapes, flavors, sizes, and even textures.

Almost every culture has a flatbread or two. Some are unleavened and almost paper-thin when cooked; others are gently risen and pillowy soft. In addition to pizzas and tortillas, the global kitchen has more to offer:

• Besides naan, Indian cuisine has dinner-plate-size, slim chapatis made from durum whole-wheat flour, water, and salt. They’re used to scoop up curries.
• Egyptians enjoy aish mehahra, robust, chewy disks made from a fermented maize flour and fenugreek-flavored dough.
• The Columbians have arepas, unleavened patties of cornmeal with various fillings.
• The Afghanis make bolani, a flatbread stuffed with potatoes, spinach, pumpkin, or leek.

Make Ahead

The dough for both the Grilled Chickpea Flatbread and the Grilled Olive-Orange-Fennel Flatbread can be prepared ahead and refrigerated or frozen. After the dough has been shaped into uniform balls, put them in separate oiled zip-top plastic bags and refrigerate for up to 2 days or freeze for up to 1 month. Thaw frozen dough overnight in the refrigerator. Allow thawed or refrigerated dough to come to room temperature and double in size, about 1-1/2 hours, before continuing as directed in the recipes.

Photos: Scott Phillips

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