Grilled Flatbread, it's easy to make at home, just a few pantry ingredients, a little time and there you go, a stack of grilled flatbreads ready for your creative topping! Here's how to make Grilled Flatbread, all in easy-to-follow step-by-step photo instructions. You'll be grillin' in no time!
Looking for the recipe itself? It's Grilled Flatbead, written in the usual recipe format. The flatbread has great texture and is full of flavor, thanks to rye flour, fresh herbs and an overnight in the refrigerator to let the dough hibernate.
But for visual learners, just scroll on down for the step-by-step photos plus insight into the ingredients, tools and techniques used to make flatbread.
BRING THE DOUGH TO ROOM TEMPERATURE This can take several hours and lets the yeast activate to let the dough rise. Do know – the dough rises only a bit, there's none of this "double in size" we think of when making a typical yeast bread. To know when the dough is ready for cooking, press a finger into the dough. It's ready when you can easily insert a finger.
PARCHMENT For easier rolling, tear off a piece of parchment paper and place on the counter. While rolling, instead of turning the dough, turn the paper.
CUT DOUGH INTO PIECES For individual-size grilled flatbreads, cut the dough into eight pieces.
FORM A ROUND With your fingers, pinch the dough around itself to form a round, no need for perfection here, just get it kind of round. Turn the round over, putting the rougher pinched side on the bottom.
FLATTEN With your hand, gently flatten the dough. If the edges are rough, smooth them out a little.
AIM FOR THIS! After all this, you'll end up with something like this, a neat little flat round of flatbread dough. They take just seconds to perform, nothing hard, just what you do with dough. This is a really gorgeous dough! There's no need for flour on the parchment, it doesn't stick at all. Ready to roll? Let's get rolling!
A LITTLE PEP TALK! Don't worry, you can do this! This is a really gorgeous dough! There's no need for flour on the parchment, it doesn't stick at all. The first roll or two, don't worry if the flatbreads are a little misshapen, embrace each one's personal individuality! You'll get better at this really quickly. Ready to roll? Let's get rolling!
FIRST ROLL We're going to take two swipes on this dough with the rolling pan. First trick: roll from the center out, roll the dough one direction (let's call it "east"), then the opposite direction (let's call it "west"), forming an elongated oval. (Don't worry, in a second, you'll turn the parchment and repeat this again, forming a round flatbread.) Don't worry about getting the right thickness yet, just work on shape.
TURN & ROLL AGAIN Okay so now turn the parchment a quarter turn. Once again, work from the inside out. Roll the dough, first "north" and then "south" – now the flatbread is noticeably thinner and rounder. You may want to use the rolling pin once or twice more to make the dough thinner or more round but do use a light touch. There's your flatbread!
REPEAT, REPEAT! Roll out a few more rounds, even all eight if you prefer. Once the flatbreads are rolled, just put them aside. Don't stack them, the dough is a little too sticky for that.
HOT-HOT-HOT! The grillpan should be hot-hot-hot. In fact, I turn the stove on under the grillpan – not the highest setting but darn close – even before I start to roll out the dough. It takes a good 10 - 15 minutes for the pan to get hot enough. When you drop a flatbread onto the pan, it should sizzle just a bit and once the flatbread starts to cook, it'll puff up just a bit. This is a good thing, it makes for a lighter flatbread! If the flatbreads will just kinda sit there, cooking but not browning, the skillet isn't hot enough, turn up the heat.
OIL THE PAN? If your cast iron pans are well-seasoned like ours, there's no need to oil the grillpan. If your pan is non-stick, it shouldn't need any oil at all. If you do think a little oil is necessary, use an oil with a high smoke point like peanut oil or vegetable oil, not olive oil, and use a light touch because the flatbread dough will really suck up the oil, the appearance won't be as pretty.
TEST RUN It's a good idea to start off with just one flatbread at first. This lets you test the heat of the pan. Watch closely to get an idea how the flatbread is going to subtly change as it begins to cook. Watch – but don't move it around unless you want to mess up the grill marks! It should take a couple of minutes for the flatbread to begin to puff up just a little, for the color to change. The thinner the flatbread, the more quickly this will happen. The thicker the dough, the longer it will take.
TEST FOR DONENESS Once the flatbread begins to subtly puff, use tongs to lift a corner to check for color. If the grill marks are dark and the dough appears cooked, use the tongs to turn over the flatbread. If it's not quite done, give it a little more time to finish.
ALL PUFFED UP! Here you can see how the flatbread can really puff up. This first side will be the "top" of the flatbread when it's served.
UNDERSIDE For some reason, the second side doesn't develop pretty grill marks. It will be the "bottom" of the flatbread when it's served.
PRODUCTION MODE! Once you get the knack, the grillpan will hold three flatbreads to cook at once. Aren't they just so pretty!
ROLLIN' NOW Three at a time, the flatbreads really roll off the grillpan. Just stack them up at the side.
WHY TWO FLOURS? Most flatbread recipes use only all-purpose flour. But to my taste, these are just, well, the flavor is flat and floury, like that proverbial cardboard. So I use two flours, all-purpose for tenderness and another flour for flavor and texture. Rye flour adds both flavor and a nice rustic texture but you could also use barley flour or oat flour (make your own by grinding uncooked old-fashioned oats in the food processor until floury).
WHY YEAST? I tested a couple of flatbread recipes leavened with baking powder but just didn't think they were the right texture for grilled flatbread. FYI, it's cheaper to buy yeast in bulk rather than in a packet, it keeps for a couple of years in a jar in the fridge. For a faster rise, let the yeast warm to room temperature before mixing the dough.
WHY SUGAR? Sugar is the "food" the yeast feasts on, activating it. If you prefer, use honey or agave. Sugar also encourages nice grill marks!
WHY SALT? Salt adds much-needed flavor! Don't skimp on the salt, it makes all the difference. In fact, I've found that for flatbread, I need to actually measure the salt because when I "eyeball" a teaspoon of salt, it's not actually a full teaspoon.
WHY FRESH HERBS? Fresh herbs are quite lovely, adding both color and flavor. I also had good luck with dried Italian seasoning but do use twice as much dried as fresh.
WHAT TOOLS DO I NEED? A food processor for mixing the dough, a clean towel to cover the dough in the refrigerator overnight, parchment paper, a rolling pin and a cast iron or non-stick grillpan.
OUTDOOR GRILL OR INSIDE GRILL PAN? Cooking flatbreads on an outdoor grill adds that lovely outdoor, slightly smoky flavor. But me, I'm an "inside cook" and swear by a cast iron grill pan for convenience (and more importantly, temperature control) plus those very cool grill marks. On the grill, you can cook as many flatbreads at a time as the grill will hold. With a grill pan, you'll cook just one or two or three flatbreads as a time.
NO GRILL? NO GRILL PAN? You won't get grill marks but flatbreads can be cooked in any heavy skillet. Use a well-seasoned cast iron skillet or a non-stick skillet.
WHY REFRIGERATE OVERNIGHT? DOESN'T DOUGH RISE AT ROOM TEMPERATURE? I recommend putting the dough in the refrigerator overnight so because bread doughs that go through a "slow rise" develop more interesting, complex flavors. Most recipes "do" suggest letting bread dough rise at room temperature, my bread recipes too. But mostly, these days, I often do the the first rise in the refrigerator to let flavors develop, then do the second rise at room temperature.
NO TIME TO REFRIGERATE OVERNIGHT? CAN I SKIP THE REFRIGERATOR TIME? Sure. After kneading the dough and rolling it in oil in a bowl, cover the bowl with a clean towel and leave on the kitchen counter. The dough won't rise much but after a couple of hours, will have expanded some and is ready for grilling.
HOW THICK? I like flatbreads that are slightly thick, sturdy enough to hold some toppings when held in the hand. For this recipe, that means dividing the dough in eight, then rolling it to be four- to five-inches thick.
PERFECT SHAPES? Don't worry if the flatbreads aren't perfectly round. They're going to taste great and imperfections are a visual signal that the flatbreads are made by hand not machine-made!
COOK FLATBREADS AHEAD OF TIME! The great thing about flatbread is that it can be cooked ahead of time, either earlier in the day or even a day or two ahead. When wrapped well, they even freeze!
So you're ready, right? Let's grill some flatbread!
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