Pita bread, tortillas and chapati may be relative newcomers to American supermarkets, but in their native lands they are almost as old as civilization itself.
When people first began harvesting grains, they were faced with the problem of how to turn them into food. One solution was to grind the grains into flour, mix it with water and bake. The flatter and thinner the bread, the more quickly and easily it could be cooked. Today these flatbreads are still enjoyed around the globe and are easier to make than you might think.
The trick is to take advantage of your food processor’s speed to mix and knead the dough. In some cases, use quick-rising yeast that requires only a 20-minute rest before reshaping, instead of the usual 90 minutes. This dough is great for making small batches of flatbread, such as focaccia or Turkish pide.
A plus to making bread from scratch is that you can control exactly what goes into it. Making these flatbreads with whole grain flour adds vitamins, minerals, fiber and a delicious nutty taste. Cornmeal and semolina can also impart interesting texture and flavor.
This collection of breads comes from the Mediterranean basin, where breads are a central part of every meal. The flatbreads range from simple Middle Eastern pita to an exquisitely topped Catalan flatbread. Even the humblest meal becomes a feast when it is served with these wholesome, homemade breads.