Nordic bakery cookbook, 144pp.
by Miisa Mink
Ryland Peters and Small, London, 2011
Cooking on page 32
I don’t make much in the way of cakes and biscuits (unless it’s from page 32), but the sourdough starter in my fridge makes sure I churn out about six loaves of bread a week. Luckily for our waistlines, most of it gets given away to family and neighbours.
So while I’m wedded to sourdough experiments, I’m also on the look out for interesting bread recipes. Heck, I buy bread flour in 12.5-kilo bags. So this book jumped into my arms with the promise of a new ingredient on page 32—barley flour.
Potato and barley flatbreads
400 g floury potatoes (e.g. King Edwards), peeled and cut into small chunks
1 tablespoon sea salt
2 tablespoon unsalted butter
250 g barley flour
Preheat the oven to 240°C (475°F) Gas 9.
Boil the potatoes for 10–15 minutes, or until tender. Drain, leave to cool and reserve 200ml of the cooking liquid.
Add the salt and butter to the potatoes with most of the reserved cooking liquid (see below for a warning on this instruction). Mash to make a smooth, soft mixture. Set aside to cool down a little.
Add the flour to the cooled potato mixture—you should have a firm but pliable dough. Add a little more of the reserved cooking liquid if the sough is too stiff.
Pull off pieces of dough about the size of plums, and roll in balls between your hands. Place on a prepared baking tray and flatten with your hands or a floured rolling pin to make thin discs. Prick all over with a fork. You will need to bake the flatbreads in batches because they will not all fit on the baking tray.
Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, or until golden brown with some darker patches.
Makes about 20.
How it played out
I decided to make these as dippers for my friend, Robert’s, birthday party. He’d asked everyone to bring something homemade.
The first challenge was to find barley flour. A quick search on the internet showed that Mountain Creek Wholefoods in Griffith stocked it, so I hopped in the car and dashed over to buy exactly 252 grams of the stuff.
I don’t normally peel potatoes—why waste the nutritious skin—but I did for this recipe. And I used unsalted butter too. I did the mashing with the stick blender, which was a stroke of genius.
But I hit one big snag. See that phrase in the third paragraph of the method—with most of the reserved cooking liquid. I decided to start slow, so put about 120 ml of the liquid in with the potatoes and flour. Even that was too much liquid, and I ended up with a thickish batter rather than a pliable dough.
I didn’t have more flour or potatoes to add, so I let the batter sit for a couple of hours to dry out some. I also congratulated myself on having started the recipe early enough in the day to have plenty of time.
Sadly, hours later there was still no way I was going to be able to roll out balls of dough. So instead I plopped spoonfuls of batter on lined trays and spread them with a knife and baked them for a little over 15 minutes.
They weren’t completely crisp, so to make them better for dipping, I cut each flatbread into six triangles.
I had success in the end! Of course, each flatbread was thicker than I’d expected. I got 11 pieces instead of the 20 the recipe predicted. But the taste and texture were excellent. And so wonderful to have such great results with so few ingredients.
Next time I’ll start with 40–80ml of the reserved liquid and see how that goes. Although, spreading the mixture worked fine and was a better work-around than I expected.
I’m sure you could make a couple of larger flatbreads to use as wraps, or lots of little round breads to use as dippers.
And a last comment, Mountain Creek has all sorts of wonderful products (I also bought 2 kilos of rye flour while I was there) and I’ll be heading back the next time I need something ‘exotic’.
P.S. I’m in India now enjoying a whole range of sensational breads such as paratha, chapati, roti, pappadums and a millet bread I’ve just had for the first time. If you’re interested, check out this food-related entry on my travel blog.