Easygoing breads

Cooking class will show how to make flatbreads simply on the stove

In a pinch, chef Constance Jesser considered purchasing pita bread to serve with the eggplant spread baba ghanoush.

Then she had to pinch herself because pita bread is so easy to make.

Flatbreads Step by Step

1. Divide risen dough into 8 pieces and form into balls.

2. Roll on a lightly floured surface into an 8-inch circle, letting the dough rest a bit if it tends to shrink.

3. Brush lightly with water.

4. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, patting or rolling them to help the seeds adhere.

5. Gently lay the dough on a hot griddle, or a preheated baking sheet or pizza stone in the oven. If outdoors, use a campfire griddle.

6. Stack baked flatbreads on a towel and keep covered until you're ready to eat.

"You can do it on your stovetop."

She plans to demonstrate the no-bake process in a Tuesday class at Jacksonville Mercantile in Jacksonville and also share her secrets for baking small batches of brioche and bacon buns.

"Everybody wants a really good bun recipe," she says.

With no oven inside her gourmet-foods store, Jesser will show the group how to form the bun and brioche doughs and then provide samples of the breads freshly baked off site.

The pita bread, however, will take shape before participants' eyes.

"I'm just going to make the pita right on the induction burner," says Jesser. "It puffs up."

Puffed flatbreads bake in about three minutes on a heavy pancake griddle, making them a perfect for campsites or backyard grills. They also bake just as well in a hot oven, particularly on a pizza stone.

After rolling the dough into 8-inch rounds, gently lay each disc on the griddle. Within 30 seconds, little bubbles will begin to rise across the surface. Wait a minute longer, flip, then give the bread a final minute.

"It's almost like a taco, but it's thick and puffy," says Jesser.

The soft discs of bread can cradle a sandwich's worth of chicken salad or the fixings for fish tacos. Tear them into scoops for hummus, baba ghanoush and other dips, or sop them in stews and soups. Using them as the plate for a one-dish meal is a delicious way to skip some dishwashing.

Freshly made flatbread is good for a day, but it freezes nicely and only needs a minute or so in the toaster to thaw, says Jesser. Her recipe honors the traditional pita that contains no yeast and is "closer to a cracker" in texture. Copies of recipes are included in the cost for her class.

This recipe is for flatbread that resembles a tortilla or chapati, but is more tender, owing to a yeast-risen dough that includes a bit of yogurt, preferably Greek-style, which also lends a slightly tangy flavor. A scattering of sesame seeds adds a nutty note and a subtle crunch.

Reach Food Editor Sarah Lemon at 541-776-4487 or email slemon@mailtribune.com. McClatchy News Service contributed to this story.

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