Having been diagnosed with nearly-diabetes I am now trying to fend it off, to reverse the process even, by losing some weight. Starvation is not the answer, but eating things which keep your stomach fuller for longer is a solution of a sort. Fat keeps hunger pangs at bay for longer than carbs which morph magically into sugar in a trice. But there’s even a hierarchy among carbs – whole grain rice, flour, pasta, bread…. all take longer to digest than their refined brethren. Equally magically, I have found to my surprise that, in general, I prefer whole grain food… it has more texture and flavour… it just needs the right treatment.
Hence this experiment – I admit I was dubious at first – wholemeal flatbreads didn’t sound inspiring.
The trouble with anything ‘wholemeal’ is that it can tend to be heavy and stodgy. On the plus side, it can have a more interesting nutty taste. These flatbreads are interesting – much better than imagined for reasons one might not expect – slightly burnt, slightly crispy. Yes, crispy… in a good way, but they don’t rise puffily like plain flour flatbreads do – the wholemeal flour contains gluten of course, but not in such a stretchy network.
I experimented first with using a griddle pan rather than a frying pan, as that’s my preferred equipment for standard flatbreads (I make two versions, one with yoghurt and one without). The result with the griddle pan is floppier flatbreads which are easier to roll and wrap.
Using a frying pan however achieves a better taste. This is partly because the small singed patches give a very pleasing bitterness. But also because you get more of the flavour of the salt.
I serve these for lunch together with sliced avocado, sliced hard-boiled egg, mayonnaise, and some halved and roasted (sprinkle over more of the salt and some balsamic vinegar first) baby tomatoes. But you can do all the usual things with these flatbreads – top, for example, with spiced minced beef and halloumi, and serve with saffron yoghurt instead of mayo.
Rather usefully, once you’ve divided the dough into eight, you can freeze it.
Unexpected wholemeal flatbreads
Serves – 3
- 350g/12 oz/3½ cups wholemeal flour, plus a bit more to spread on the surface and rolling pin
- 2 tbsps olive oil, plus more for oiling
- 240 ml/1 cup water
- 1 tsp of herbed salt, or maybe a little more (see recipe). Make this by putting some chunky rock salt – about a quarter of a cup – you will use this in all kinds of things – in a pestle and mortar, and grinding with two or three Indonesian long pepper corns (or a few ‘normal’ ones), some fennel and coriander seeds, and, once ground together, some Urfa pepper flakes.
- Put the flour and the seasoned salt into a large mixing bowl and add half the oil. Mix in well. Add the water and mix together into an elastic ball. If it is dry and you are struggling to get all the flour integrated into the ball, add the remaining oil. Divide the ball into eight.
- On a cool marble or granite surface spread a little flour. Oil a non-stick frying pan (yes, I know you shouldn’t need to, but I think it helps!) and get it good and hot.
- Meanwhile roll out, on the floured surface, the individual flatbreads until they are quite thin. Carefully use a long, thin spatula to unstick each. You will find this process immeasurably easier if you have a silicon rolling pin.
- Put each flatbread separately in the frying pan, pressing it down with a wide spatula to get it to puff a little (it won’t puff much). This will take about half a minute. Turn, and repeat the process. Do the same for the other seven flatbreads.
- Keep warm, wrapped in a clean tea towel. Serve, with maybe a little more of the seasoned salt, sprinkled over.