The blog of a doctor, a baker, a wisdom tooth taker!
Last week brought us episode two of the third season of The Great British Bake Off (GBBO to those in the know). Each week there is a different theme an eclectic bunch of home bakers battle through, each week saying good bye to some poor soul who’s hopes of baking changing their lives leaves whilst the others move steadily forward through challenges of increasing difficulty. It’s compulsive viewing for home bakers and wannabes everywhere! This week was one of my favourite challenges – bread. Cue *sharp intake of breath*! And boy, what a feast for the eyes was the diverse collection of yeasted (as well as non-yeasted) creations and the first round – making two different flatbreads – was the best, in my humble opinion. I can’t actually think of many, if any, of the competitors offerings that I wouldn’t gobble up with glee in my heart. There were rotis, naans, potato bread, tortillas all flavoured with everything from mango to chilli to lemon to spring onion. It was a cornucopia of carbohydrate like none I’ve ever beheld before! A quick Google search at the end of the episode found me Brendan’s recipe for “taboon” – a middle eastern flatbread which we see before us here.
Hungry Hubby was similarly impressed by Brendan’s breads so the next day, despite the fact it meant we had to eat at 8-9pm to give me time to make these leavened breads, I set about weighing and measuring and generally, being heart warmed in the way that only making your own bread can evoke.
These lovelies were ever so slightly sweet from the addition of spoonful of sugar but the predominant flavour was from the heaven sent spice blend of za’atar. A mix of a form of thyme slightly different in taste to the British stuff (which is great as I really dislike ordinary thyme), sesame seeds and salt to which, different brands add extras to make it their own. Like caraway, cumin, coriander or fennel seeds. It is an Arabic equivalent of garam masala in that different regions, or families even, have their own spin on it. You can see my one as the crescent arc of herbs and spices around the mound of flour, salt, sugar and yeast in the top left piccie above.
Brendan cooked his breads on a bed of hot stones he placed in a tray at the bottom of the oven, which produced the most fabulously irregular and lumpy bumpy flatbreads with burnished brown puffed up spots on baking in a super hot oven but alas, I thought buying rocks just to make this one recipe on would be a tad overkill even for me . But kudos to Brendan for going that far – they looked so inviting, so interesting – a real artisan product anyone would be thrilled to be served for dinner. Wikipedia tells me the word “taboon” can refer to the convex pan on which these breads are cooked upon in street food establishments, served with sharwarma meat, hummus or falafel stuffed into them. Oh be still my beating heart! The one final flavour to be added is that of scarlet scattering of sumac – a blood red berry with a sour taste not dissimilar to lemon really.
After waiting a hungry 90 minutes or so that it has taken to prepare the dough it’s fortunate that they cook within minutes in a scorching hot preheated oven, above which is simmering a pan of sumac spiced chicken which is to be scooped up with ripped off scarfs of the taboon. If you remember my baked eggs recipe, all I did was make the basic “sauce” then drop in strips of chicken breast instead of eggs and of course, the bread negates the need for roasted cubes of garlicky potatoes to go with. The texture of the taboon was that of a thin crisp spiced shell of bread with a fluffy interior filled with irregular pockets of air, into which stuffing cubes of spiced chicken is mandatory, at least in Casa Blogs it is! A real winner for days you don’t mind waiting for tea to cook or have time at home in the afternoon to get again.
Get Brendan’s recipe here. I’m so excited to see what other new and unfamiliar bakes get ushered out of t’ovens next week on GBBO!