How do you like your daily bread? Many cultures differ not only in bread baking methods but also in their eating habits. Most bread in the mediterranean has a flat form, – whether this be pitta, pizza , focaccia, or the flatbreads of north Africa and the Middle East . In the west we like to slice our risen loaves for a bit of bread & butter, or to make sandwiches.
Flatbread can be eaten warm. When we lived in the north of Israel if I took our children to the local bedouin baker to get our daily parcel of pitta this would turn into breakfast on the run. It was so soft and delicious no marmalade was needed.
For lunch I would take a couple of pitta breads out of the tea towel I wrapped them in to keep them moist, and fill them with either houmus or tahina with fresh salad, or a quick omelette. If I was seeing friends in town in town we would meet up at a Falafel stand or Shish kebab stall. The long queue always seemed to move like lightning.
At weekends we would drive up into the Galilee hills, stopping by the roadside when hungry to watch Druze women flipping rounds of rolled bread dough over what looked like overturned woks. These were enjoyed rolled up , filled with labaneh ( a soft white cheese made from yoghurt), za’atar and olive oil.
Sitting around a meal table in the mediterranean bread is torn and dipped into a dish, rather than cut with a knife. This archetypal gesture is ‘the breaking of bread.’
‘Artisan Bread in Five Minutes’
…or to be more exact ‘Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five minutes a Day’ is the new book by Jeff Hertzberg M.D and Zoe Francois which has just come out in the USA – a place where things can also happen fast!
Jeff and Zoe advocate ‘Bread in Five a Day’ and give quick and easy methods for making fresh bread at home from stored, no-knead dough. Not only that, they share a 100 recipes for all-time favourite pizzas such as ‘Sicilian thick-crust’, ‘Chicago-style deep dish’ with endless suggestions for toppings and accompaniments. There are speciality flatbread recipes with ideas for dips and even soups to make a complete meal.
I particularly loved the ‘Breakfast pizza with prosciutto, parmigiano and egg’, Always good to start early with food addictions!
Artisan Pizza and Flatbread in Five Minutes a Day is published by Thomas Dunne Books.
Five Minute Bread came out last year in the UK (Random House).
What are your favourite quick-breads?