Posted by Tania Kindersley.
Finally, it is time for the flatbreads I have been tantalising you with.
First of all, I should admit that they turn out not really to be flatbreads, as such. Second of all, I happen to think they are the most delicious thing I've eaten since the old queen died, but I have very particular tastes and you might think them perfectly disgusting and want your money back.
What I especially love about cooking is when things go quite wrong, but turn out to be rather wonderful after all, even though they bear no resemblance to what you set out to make. This happened to me this week when I bought some new flour home (pictured above). It is from Dove's Farm, and I love Dove's Farm, it all seems so good and wholesome, although I suddenly realise I know nothing about it and the whole thing could be a clever marketing ploy, secretly owned by a shell company controlled by Dastardly Dick Cheney. Let us hope not.
Anyway, I had not tried this flour before, and when I had a sudden urge for flatbreads, I got it out and set to work. There are many flatbread recipes, but I have found that the easiest is just flour, salt, water and olive oil. It makes quite a hard bread, but I like that. I was not concentrating very well, thinking about twenty-seven other things, when I suddenly realised that with this new flour the dough was not coming together very well. I looked closely at the packet to discover that it was gluten-free, wheat-free, everything-free. This explained the flakiness of the dough - gluten is, as you all know, what gives dough elasticity. Well, I thought, this particular flour will be very good for shortcrust pastry and shortbread and anything else which requires excessive shortness. In the meantime, what would I do about my abortive flatbread? I could not even roll the thing out with a rolling pin, because it just fell apart. But I refused to give up and chuck the whole lot away, because it is a waste, and I hate waste. My mother grew up in the war, and remembers rationing well, and I have inherited her horror of throwing away food, which is why my fridge is always filled, as is hers, of little bowls of leftovers, which I am impelled to craft into some new dish if it kills me.
In the end, I found that if I pressed the dough into little patties with my hands I could persuade them to hold together long enough to get them into a frying pan. I cooked them rather dolefully, anticipating a dry, unsatisfying mess. Imagine then my delight and amazement when I bit into the result and found that instead of a crumbly, unsatisfying thing, the little bread was chewy and even slightly gooey and fabulously moreish. I ate three in a row, hardly able to believe my luck.
So, from this incipient disaster, I have an entire new creation. I should say they are like a cross between a flatbread, a potato cake and a pikelet. I recommend eating them straight from the pan, with lots of butter, as you would a Scotch pancake: a perfect tea time treat.
For about twelve little cakebreads take:
Two cups of Dove's Farm gluten and wheat free plain white flour, a good pinch of Malden salt, a glug of olive oil (I reckon this is about two tablespoons), and half a cup of water. Mix up into a firm dough. You may need to add a little more water if it is too crumbly.
Then, carefully, take little balls of dough, and flatten them out in your hands into small cakes. Get them as thin as you can - there is a moment where they will just break apart, so a little trial and error will happen at first. Then put them in a dry frying pan and cook over a medium heat for two or three minutes each side, until they are golden. Smother in butter and enjoy. They are best hot, but still very good once they have cooled.