Rachel Roddy’s recipe for flatbreads with yoghurt

<span>The lesser-spotted Rachel Roddy flatbread.</span><span>Photograph: Rachel Roddy/The Guardian</span>
The lesser-spotted Rachel Roddy flatbread.Photograph: Rachel Roddy/The Guardian

At the beginning of Fergus Henderson’s book Nose to Tail Eating, before the contents and the introduction, is a page titled “Four things I should mention.” The first of these is about the idiosyncratic order of service at Sweetings, a fish and oyster bar in the heart of the City of London. The last one reads: “Do not be afraid of cooking, as your ingredients will know and misbehave. Enjoy your cooking and the food will behave; moreover, you will pass the pleasure on to those who eat it.”

Now, while I like both parts of this last bit of advice, I prefer the first part, which, far from feeling like a warning, is reassuring, especially when you consider that the word “afraid” is interchangeable with terms such as out-of-sorts, tired, grumpy and busy. It is also an amusing way to think about cooking, and my inevitably volatile relationship with a kitchen full of potatoes, lemons, eggs or bottles of cream that behave or misbehave, depending on the day, weather and any other number of variables.

Those variables this week have resulted in bizarre meringue biscuits, a chickpea flour bake that behaved in a way it has never behaved before (despite me having done exactly what I always do in the same bowl/tin/position in oven) and a vegetable stew with slices of lemon that, according to a friend, tasted “cross”.

While it was all very unsatisfying, it was also funny when I thought of the ingredients as a classroom full of kids taking advantage of whatever situation they found themselves in. Would the flour see my fear and smell my allergies, I wondered as I poured it into the bowl to make flatbreads? Would they fail to rise because I was grumpy? No. It turns out that flatbreads also work when you are fearful, tired, grumpy and sneezing. Also when you have a teacher such as Laura Lazzaroni, who suggests that you hope for the flatbread to puff in the pan, but not to expect it. Today’s recipe is based on Laura’s, while the addition of yoghurt is inspired by Turkish bazlama.

It’s a good idea to stack and wrap the flatbreads in a tea towel while you get on with cooking the rest – the steam and retained warmth keeps them soft and pliable. It is up to you if you want to brush the flatbreads with olive oil or melted butter, or sprinkle with herbs. Bring to the table, along with a selection of fillings – either behaving and misbehaving: tuna or tinned sardines, sliced tomato, cucumber or pickles, salad leaves and herbs, soft cheese or ricotta, yoghurt mixed with grated cucumber and mint, ham, mashed beans, sliced hard boiled egg … Encourage everyone to fill and fold their flatbread as they wish.

Flatbreads with yoghurt

Makes 4

250g plain flour
1 tsp dried yeast, baking powder or a spoonful of sourdough starter
150ml plain, whole yoghurt
3 tbsp water
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt

For the fillings
Tinned tuna or sardines, sliced tomato, salad leaves and/or herbs, soft cheese, ham, mashed beans, sliced hard-boiled egg

Working in bowl, mix the flour and yeast, then add the yoghurt, water, olive oil and salt and bring everything together into a ball of dough. Knead gently until the ball is soft and smooth. Divide the ball into four, shape each quarter into a smooth ball, then sit them on a lightly floured board and cover with a clean cloth or a sheet of clingfilm for 30 minutes.

Heat an iron or nonstick pan. Working swiftly on a lightly floured surface, pat one ball at a time into a patty, then roll the patty into a circle the size of a dinner plate (or the base of the pan).

Lift the flatbread into the pan, press it down with your fingertips to spread it across the base of the pan (be very careful) and cook for one to two minutes, during which time the flatbread should puff up in places. Check that the underside has dark amber, leopard patches, then flip the flatbread, cook on the other side for up to a minute, then lift it out of the pan.

Stack and wrap the flatbreads in a tea towel while you cook the others: the steam and warmth will keep them soft and pliable. Serve the flatbreads with a selection of possible fillings – tuna or tinned sardines, sliced tomato, cucumber or pickles, salad leaves and herbs, soft cheese or ricotta, yoghurt mixed with grated cucumber and mint, ham, mashed beans, sliced hard-boiled egg – and encourage everyone to fill and fold their own flatbread as they wish. It is up to you if you want to brush them with olive oil or melted butter, or sprinkle them with herbs, before handling – in whatever state of mind you are in.

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