Allergies are commonplace now; but not so much when I was young. Until I was finally diagnosed, I went from one earache to the next, relieved only when my eardrum burst, along with a long list of other problems. As a bonus, I got the chicken pox, measles, and mumps all in the same month that year (and gave them all to my dad, who was one very sick puppy). Overall, a rough time for us all, including my mom who had to take care of both of us.
But it wasn’t all bad. I got pretty good at playing Chinese checkers with my mom, since I was in bed so much. And I got lots of fabulous thick flatbread she used to get from a Lebanese bakery near the pediatrician’s office we spent so much time visiting. It was slightly crisp on the outside, spongy soft on the inside, similar to focaccia, and very exotic to my 6-year-old self. After warming the bread, we split slices open to reveal hot steamy centers, and slathered them with butter. Not yet sure that I liked scrambled eggs, I always stuffed my eggs inside and ate them with the bread and butter melting around them. Honestly, I probably could have eaten liver that way, I loved that bread so much.
Flatbreads have a long history and can be found in some form in most cultures. Lavash, piadina, focaccia, Afghan bread, matzo, rieska, and tortillas are just a few examples. A variety of ingredients can be added to the dough, but at their simplest, flatbread is just flour, water and salt mixed together into a disk and rolled into flat, thin sheets. It’s generally unleavened, although pita bread is an exception. Rolled really, really thin: you have a cracker.
Thinner than the thick, spongy flatbread of my youth, this flatbread is easy and quick to make for any meal.
Rosemary-Parmesan Country Flatbread
- 6 3/4 ounces (1 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 ounces Parmesan cheese, finely grated
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
- 1/2 cup water
- Rosemary olive oil
- Malton salt flakes or coarse sea salt
- Coarse ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine the flour, salt, cheese, fresh rosemary, and water together in the bowl of a standing mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on low until the dough starts to form, but you still have loose flour and cheese that hasn’t been incorporated into the dough.
Empty the mixture out onto a lightly floured workspace, and knead until the dough comes together into a smooth ball, 2 – 3 minutes.
Flatten into a disk shape, and roll to the approximate size of a baking sheet. Place on the baking sheet.
Sprinkle a little rosemary olive oil over the surface, along with a few pinches of salt flakes or coarse sea salt, and a couple of twists of fresh pepper.
Bake for 15 minutes. Turn the baking sheet around and bake for another 5 minutes.
Serve with rosemary olive oil on the side.