Kitchen Garden

Pandemic Baker

Dr. Oetker baking aids.

The coronavirus pandemic has us cooking meals each night and nothing goes better with a bowl of soup made with pantry ingredients than warm from the oven flatbread.

The two people in our household consumed more all purpose flour during the last year than we have in a long time. I made a pizza each week, and am using up some gifted specialty flours — rice, almond, coconut, garbanzo bean — by blending them with all purpose to make flatbread.

There is no dough recipe, just technique. To get started for a two-person loaf, a cup of warm water from the tap goes into a stainless steel bowl. Mix in a teaspoon of yeast, a scant teaspoon of sugar to feed the yeast, a dash of salt, and two tablespoons of flour. Let that rest for a few minutes, then apply cooking spray to a mixing bowl for the first rise in the oven. Turn the oven on to the lowest setting. I get out my two Dr. Oetker spatulas, bought in West Germany in the 1970s, and get to work, but they are more habit than need.

If I’m making a pizza dough, I start with a cup of all purpose flour. For flatbread I put a half cup of specialty flour in the bowl with the yeast mix and a half cup of all purpose flour. Using the spatulas, I mix and add flour until the stickiness of the dough subsides enough for it to come together. I flour the counter and knead, sprinkling more flour to relieve stickiness. I form a ball and put it in the rising bowl. Put a plate on the bowl and let it rise in the oven for an hour.

Take the dough out of the oven, set the rack in the middle, and preheat to 425 degrees. Punch the dough down and knead a second time on the counter. It will take more flour. Form the flatbread on a baking sheet and dock it. I use parchment paper to make clean up easier but an oiled pan will work, too. Cover the formed flatbread and let rise for 30-45 minutes until the change in shape is noticeable. Place it in the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes until the top begins to brown.

Serve plain or with butter, apple butter or another topping. To serve more people, adjust the water amounts by half a cup for each person. It is a quick, reliable accompaniment for any meal.