Week 14: Flatbread

Flatbread generally refers to any type of unleavened bread and examples of different types of flatbread are found throughout the world. It is the most ancient type of bread.

Some of the more familiar flatbreads include:


Focaccia (Italy) – a square-shaped oven-baked Italian bread often seasoned with olive oil and salt, and sometimes herbs, and topped with onion, cheese and meat, or flavored with a number of vegetables. Focaccia dough is similar in style and texture to pizza dough, and is made from high-gluten flour, oil, water, salt and yeast. It is typically rolled out or pressed by hand into a thick layer of dough and then baked on a stone or in an oven. Bakers often puncture the bread with a knife to relieve bubbling on the surface of the bread. Also common is the practice of dotting the bread. This creates multiple wells in the bread by using a finger or the handle of a utensil to poke the unbaked dough.


Injera (Ethiopia) – is a yeast-risen flatbread with a unique, slightly spongy texture. Traditionally made out of teff flour. Teff is an annual grass, a species of lovegrass, native to the Ethiopian Highlands with a small grain.


Matso (Israel) – an unleavened bread traditionally eaten by Jews during the week-long Passover holiday. There are numerous explanations behind the symbolism of matzo. One is historical: Passover is a commemoration of the exodus from Egypt. The biblical narrative relates that the Israelites left Egypt in such haste they could not wait for their bread dough to rise; the bread, when baked, was matzo. The other reason for eating matzo is symbolic as it symbolizes redemption and freedom, but it is also known as “poor man’s bread”. Thus it serves as a reminder to be humble, and to not forget what life was like in servitude. It is customary to eat matzo made of flour and water;  matzo eggs, wine, or fruit juice in addition to water is not considered acceptable for use. The flour can be made from the five grains mentioned in the Torah: wheat, barley, spelt, rye and oats.


Naan (India) – a leavened, oven-baked flatbread made of wheat flour. Generally, it resembles pita and is usually leavened with yeast.  Modern recipes sometimes substitute baking powder for the yeast. Milk, which yields a softer dough or yogurt may also be used to impart distinct tastes to the naan. Typically, it is served hot and brushed with ghee (clarified butter) or it can be used to scoop up other foods, or served stuffed with a filling.


Pita (Greece) – a slightly leavened wheat bread, flat, either round or oval, and variable in size. Pita is used to scoop sauces or dips such as hummus, and to wrap kebabs, gyros or falafel like sandwiches. Most pita are baked at high temperatures (450 °F), causing the flattened rounds of dough to puff up dramatically. When removed from the oven, the layers of baked dough remain separated inside the deflated pita, which allows the bread to be opened into pockets, creating a space for use in various dishes.


Tortillas (Mexico, Latin America) – a type of thin flatbread made from finely ground corn or wheat flour. The word tortilla in Spanish means “small torta”, or “small cake” and was originally a bread of maize which predated the arrival of Europeans to the Americas. Wheat flour tortillas were created after wheat was brought to the New World from Spain. Tortillas have been a staple for thousands of years in north, northwest and northeast Mexico as well as in many southwestern US Native American tribes. Tortillas are commonly prepared with meat to make dishes such as tacos, burritos and enchiladas.





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