How to Make Flatbread

As a ratio baker, I use weights and ratios to bake, so you’ll find weights listed for most of the ingredients instead of cups.


The Story
How to Make Flatbread
The Recipe


The Story

My husband and I had a day wedding. We got married a block from the beach, so our reception site had a beautiful view of the ocean – during the day. Hence the day wedding. It was lovely, and it meant we got to spend a quiet first dinner married, just the two of us. Being introverted, I much preferred that to a loud, late into the night reception I’d just want to collapse into bed after.

During the early years of our relationship, we spent a lot of time around Westwood (where you can find UCLA), Santa Monica, and Malibu. My husband had two favorite spots to pick up food: a pizza place and an Indian place. I’m not the pizza fan he is, but I did enjoy the Indian place. It was only fitting we got take out from the Indian place for our first dinner as a married couple.

Between then and now, we’ve moved around a lot and experienced a lot of hits and misses with Indian restaurants. We both love the tikka masala, so my husband started experimenting (and making messes), but finally hit on a simple dish that’s not tikka masala, but more or less tastes like it. We call it Indian Chicken. While I love it, I do enjoy my carbs, so prefer the naan to chicken.

I’ve almost made naan a handful of times. But, while my husband will happily eat it from a restaurant, the recipes we’ve looked at has given him pause. Which means I still haven’t made naan. We’ve been married for over a decade.

But I was craving hummus last month. A quick check of what we had to go with it left me wanting. I decided to check out flatbread. Just plain flatbread, nothing fancy or too involved or foreign sounding. Just an actual flatbread. A flat piece of bread.

Well, flatbread is just unleavened bread. I figured I could use the bread ratio of 5 parts flour to 3 parts liquid (5:3), add in some salt and baking powder, roll it out, and cook it on the stove. Rather like a tortilla, but without the extra stuff the recipe I use for tortillas uses. I had no idea what I was doing, so preferred to keep it as simple and basic as possible.

It takes longer to make than it takes my family to eat it. The carb-lovers.


How to Make Flatbread

Let’s start with the ratio. The bread ratio is 5:3, flour to liquid. That means 5 parts flour to 3 parts liquid. I’ve found I prefer to use ounces rather than grams when using this ratio, but, as long as you keep the same ratio you can use any weight unit as long as it’s the same one for the flour and the liquid. Do not change it.

The math is quite simple. Choose the flour or liquid to start. If you choose flour, measure it out to what seems like a decent amount to you. Divide the weight by 5 and multiply by 3 to get the weight of the liquid. If you choose liquid, pick an amount, divide it by 3 and then multiply that number by 5.

With me so far? I hope so! If not, I’m a comment away.

Add the flour to your mixing bowl first. Then add about a teaspoon of baking powder, or less. Really, it doesn’t require much since you don’t actually want it to rise or pouf up too much. Just enough to get some nice bubbles. Then add some salt. A teaspoon should do, or more if you want it saltier. Mix it all together.

Now, add the liquid. Water seems to be the preferred liquid for flatbread. Mix it in.

And knead. Sprinkle on flour and knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Let it rest for a few minutes, or longer. It’s up to you. I’ve have it sitting in my fridge for a day before taking it, bringing it to room temperature, and the cooking it. Then take pieces and roll them into balls. Remember it will be rolled out fairly thinly, so make sure the balls aren’t so big they’ll roll out to a sheet too big to fit squarely in your chosen skillet.

Roll out the balls. I do this in batches as I keep them on parchment paper to prevent any sticking, and I don’t want to use a gross amount of parchment paper when I don’t need to. I quickly roll out about a handful and transfer them to the parchment paper. Then I take the next one to go in the skillet and roll it out to my desired thickness, which is as thin as I can possibly make it.

Once your first one is ready to be cooked, heat a skillet large enough to fit your flatbreads to low-medium heat. The higher the heat, the more likely it’ll burn (and my picky children will not eat anything even a little brown, so hopefully, if you have children, they’re more forgiving). Flip it to the other side after about a half minute to minute, or until each side appears cooked and the bubbles have browned to your desired darkness. And continue until all of them have been cooked.


The Recipe

For a small batch of about a dozen with each ball measuring about 1 inch across:

5 ounces flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3 ounces water

  1. Weigh the flour in a mixing bowl.
  2. Add the baking powder and salt, and mix.
  3. Weigh the water and then mix it into the flour mixture.
  4. Knead until smooth and elastic.
  5. Let rest a few minutes.
  6. Roll into balls about an inch across, or slightly larger. They do not need to be uniform.
  7. Roll balls until thin (rolling pin, tortilla press, pasta roller, etc.). Can be done in batches instead of all at the same time.
  8. Heat skillet to low-medium heat.
  9. Optional: Take one flattened ball and roll it out until it reaches your desired thinness.
  10. Carefully set the ball rolled to your desired thinness in the skillet ensuring it’s laid out flat.
  11. Cook about 30-60 seconds, until the bottom is cooked and the bubbles are to your desired brownness.
  12. Flip it over and cook until the other side is cooked and the bubbles reach your desired brownness.
  13. Repeat steps 9-12.
  14. Enjoy!

For more recipes or to read about my adventures in ratio baking:
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5 thoughts

  1. For some reason, I have an anti-talent for making flat bread. Which is a shame, because I’m a huge carb addict.

    Now I want naan, but our favorite Indian restaurant didn’t survive 2020. 🙁

    1. That is a shame, and surprising. They’re great for carb lovers, so much faster to make than bread. Hopefully you’ll be able to find another good source for naan.

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