Gluten free baked food products tend to either aim for a vague approximation of the original, or completely bypass it and settle themselves happily into the category of ‘mysterious wad’. Until recently, most gluten-free breads have tried earnestly (and very successfully) to replicate cardboard rather than a genuine loaf (thank God for Genius). Cakes and biscuits are usually more successful, relying less on a well-formed gluten structure than bread, though occasionally they can be mouth-numbingly dry.
Home recipes can meet with a similar range of results, from unusual brown dollops in the bottom of a baking tray, to fantastic fresh rustic (and often unusual) loaves that have to be greedily gobbled down with butter while still warm. Even the best recipes can be inconsistent though (in my experience), except for this little gem I discovered last week.
So then, 5 minutes before dinner is ready (minestrone soup, since you ask), what do you do? Set the table? Open a bottle of wine? Sensible ideas, but not me, I decided to ‘have a go’ at gluten free flatbread. Never done it before (not in 5 minutes anyway), but hey, why not. And how was it? It was fantastic, incredibly easy to make and definitely one of the best savoury gluten-free recipes I’ve ever cooked – crispy and light with a delicious fresh bread flavour. You can use whichever shop bought gluten free flour blend with xantham gum you can get (e.g. Doves Farm in the UK, Bob’s Red Mill in the USA), I use my gluten free flour blend here, which gives measurements by weight (g or oz) or volume (cups).
Gluten Free Flatbread
150g gluten free flour blend (my recipe here)
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
- Preheat the grill to as hot as it will go.
- Add water gradually to the flour in a bowl and mix until the mixture is the consistency of creamed butter and sugar (i.e. like cake mixture).
- Oil a baking tray (or grill pan) with the olive oil. Spoon the mixture roughly on to the tray, then drizzle oil over the top. Oil your hands too.
- With your hands, flatten the mixture out into a rough rectangle – it should be as thin as you can get it, with areas where the dough is almost translucent (“windowpaning”).
- Sprinkle sea salt over the top and then put under the grill. Keep an eye on it – the dough will start to bubble and char in places – take it out and turn it over.
- Before the dough is charring on the other side, take it out and scatter cumin seeds over the flatbread, then place back under the grill until it is lightly charred.
- Cut into smaller rectangles and scatter with parsley or basil. Serve immediately with soup or dips.
You may find the dough lifts up at the edges after turning, and start to cook too quickly – in this case, just wait until the edges have browned then cut them off and carry on cooking the remainder.
Experiment – you could try black onion seeds or fennel in place of cumin, or even pine nuts and rosemary. Heck, I reckon if you get the moisture levels of the tomato sauce right and the grill hot enough, you could turn this into a decent thin and crispy pizza. Somewhere between Jeff Varasano’s epic pizza recipe and Heston Blumenthal’s home pizza method lies the answer.
UPDATE: Just as I suspected, this makes great pizza – here is my quick gluten free pizza recipe.