spinach, olive oil and
sea salt flatbreads
If I put a bowl of spinach down in front of my kids there’s no way they would happily dig in, but in these flatbreads, they love it. It’s such a sneaky way of adding extra vegetables, but I’m not doing it to be shady, I added spinach because I actually love the taste of the spinach in the bread. I have tried this recipe with rocket and Swiss chard also, but I like it best when spinach is used. It has a soft delicate flavour. Use these flatbreads to rip and dip into a curry or use as wraps - I served mine for dinner with grilled chicken, salads, feta, chilli and tzatziki.
Time: Takes time (proving stages with the dough)
2 cups lukewarm water
2 teaspoons dry active yeast
2 teaspoons of honey or sugar
6 cups tightly packed spinach (240g/8.5oz), that's roughly one large bag of baby spinach
½ cup of water
2 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
7-8 cups bread-making flour (I use Champion high grade - it gives such a good result for bread) + extra for dusting bench
Olive oil for cooking
Put the 2 cups of lukewarm water, sugar and yeast in an extra-large bowl. Whisk to combine and set in a warm spot until it gets foamy on top, around 15 minutes. If it’s a cold day I set the bowl under the heat pump or put it in the oven at a low temperature with the door ajar. While you wait for the yeast to develop, put the spinach and the ½ cup water in a food processor and blitz until smooth. Alternatively, chop very finely by hand and mix in a bowl with the water.
Add the spinach mixture into the yeast bowl with sea salt and olive oil. Add 7 cups of flour, to begin with, and mix well. If it’s too sticky add the extra cup little by little kneading in the bowl until you have a ball of dough. Turn out onto a floured bench and knead for around 5-10 minutes or until when you push the dough with a finger it bounces back. The dough will be relatively sticky, but just add enough flour to make it easier to work with. The more flour you add the tougher the flatbread will be. By having a slightly sticky but soft dough, you will have light and fluffy flatbreads once cooked.
Wash out the bowl you used for bread mixing and put a little olive oil in the bottom, then the spinach dough and flip the dough in the oil so that it is now oiled on top and bottom. Cover with a clean damp tea towel and rest in a warm spot until it has doubled in size, around 1-2 hours. I quite often make my dough in advance, in the morning for that evening’s dinner. I find the longer you can let the dough prove, the nicer the flavour of the bread. Left overnight (in the bowl, resting in a clean sink in case of any spillovers) will give an almost 'sourdough' flavour to the flatbreads if that's your thing.
Once the dough has risen, cut it into quarters then cut each quarter into thirds so that you have 12 even pieces. Heat a large skillet over low heat. I have used a regular fry pan before and the result has not been as good. A cast-iron skillet gives a much better result somehow – the bread comes out more like Indian naan bread with a skillet. Roll out a portion as flat and as round as you can get it so that it fits your size pan and place it in the pan. Brush the pan with oil and place the bread in, brushing the top with olive oil also. When it puffs up, is brown and cooked through, flip and cook the other side until done. Wrap in a clean tea towel to keep warm and repeat the process...I usually have another one all rolled out waiting to cook.
Serve immediately. Best eaten on the day they are made.