• Armenian flatbread (matnakash) (Alan Benson)Source: Alan Benson

This large flatbread is easily recognised by its traditional oval shape and bold central lines. A flour wash gives it a deliciously crisp upper crust that contrasts particularly well with its soft, slightly chewy texture.

Serves
8-10

Preparation

40min

Cooking

20min

Skill level

Mid
By
Average: 4.3 (146 votes)
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Ingredients

  • 100 ml lukewarm water
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil, plus extra to grease
  • 1½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 300 g (2 cups) bread or pizza flour
  • sea salt flakes, to serve (optional)

 

Starter

  • 200 g (1⅓ cups) bread or pizza flour
  • 250 ml lukewarm water
  • 1 tsp instant dried yeast

 

Flour cream

  • 1½ tbsp bread or pizza flour
  • 125 ml (½ cup) black tea, cooled

Cook's notes

Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.

Instructions

Makes: 2 large loaves  

Proving time: 3 hours 50 minutes

To make the starter, combine the flour and yeast in a medium bowl. Gradually stir in the water until a thick paste forms. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm, draught-free place for 1½ hours or until bubbly and doubled in size.

Transfer the starter to a large bowl of a stand mixer and use the dough hook attachment to stir in the water, oil, salt and sugar. Gradually mix in the flour to form a soft dough and then mix with the dough hook for about 8 minutes or until smooth, elastic and sticky. Transfer the dough to a large greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm, draught-free place for 1 hour or until doubled in size.

Knock back the dough by punching it in the centre with your fist and then fold the dough over on itself about 3 times to remove some of the excess air. Cover, and set aside in a warm, draft-free place to prove again for 1 hour or until doubled in size.

Place ovens rack in the centre and top half of the oven, then preheat to 250°C (230°C fan-forced). Line two large baking trays with baking paper.

Knock back the dough by punching it in the centre with your fist. Turn onto a lightly floured bench top and knead for 2-3 minutes or until smooth and elastic and the dough has returned to its original size. Divide the dough evenly into 2 portions and shape each into a ball.

Place each ball on a lined baking tray. Use lightly greased hands to press one of the dough portions into an oval about 20 cm x 33 cm, and about 1 cm thick. Cup your hand slightly and use the side of your hand to make an indent in the oval about 3 cm in from the edge all the way around. Then straighten your hand and make three line indents the length of the bread. Cover the breads with clean damp tea towels and set aside in a warm, draught-free place for 20 minutes or until risen slightly.

Meanwhile to make the flour cream, place the flour in a medium bowl and gradually stir in the tea until a smooth thin paste forms.

Brush the flatbread with the flour cream. Throw a handful of ice cubes onto the base of the oven to create some steam. Bake the breads for 10 minutes. Swap the trays around and bake for a further 10 minutes or until deep golden and cooked through. Remove form the oven and set aside for 15 minutes before serving warm or at room temperature, sprinkled with sea salt flakes, if desired.

 

Baker’s tips

• This flatbread is best eaten the day it is baked and the crust will soften on keeping.

• This flatbread is great served alongside dips (such as the beetroot one, pictured), soups and curries.

 

Photography by Alan Benson. Styling by Sarah O'Brien. Food preparation by Tina McLeish.

 

This recipe is part of our Bakeproof: Yeast-leavened flatbreadscolumn.

View previous Bakeproof columns and recipes here.

 

Anneka's mission is to connect home cooks with the magic of baking, and through this, with those they love. For hands-on baking classes and baking tips, visit her at BakeClub. Don't miss what's coming out of her oven via Facebook,TwitterInstagram and Pinterest.