Breadmaking: the word alone may conjure images of tiresome kneading and dough-punching. But if you're writing it off just for that reason, then you're missing an entire category of the staple food that's easier on your schedule (not to mention your palms).
That's the message Thy Tran and Sharon Nahm had for home cooks at yesterday's SF Chefs seminar on Asian flatbreads. Tran, chef instructor of Wandering Spoon, and Nahm, chef at E & O Asian Kitchen, demonstrated how to make Chinese cong you bing (scallion pancakes), Afghan bolani, and Indian naan to a group that was astonished to learn these breads were fast enough for a weeknight. Planning on making any of these in the near future? Here are a few tips that are sure to prove helpful, regardless of what recipe you use.
- Skip the standing mixer. Because flatbreads don't require as much kneading as other breads, leave the standing mixer on the cupboard, and dig in with your hands instead. Save the KitchenAid only for instances where you'll be doubling or tripling a flatbread recipe.
- Consider the context before seasoning. Although Tran recommended adding a "pinch" of salt when making her flatbreads, she encouraged home cooks to consider how the bread would be consumed before seasoning. Eating your bread with curry, Southeast Asian-style? Then scale back on the salt. Consuming your scallion pancakes with cocktails? Then add more. Planning on stuffing them with a seasoned meat filling? Then definitely go light on the sodium. You get the idea.
See more flatbread-making suggestions after the break.