Saturday, 1 March 2008
We make flatbread a lot – especially in the summer. It’s the perfect kind of bread for the barbecue. In fact, I can’t even begin to say how many times we have made focaccia, naan and pita on the barbecue! But of course, flatbread can be made indoors too – in the oven or on the stovetop.
When I saw that flatbreads were the theme for this month’s bread baking day, I knew that I could have made chapatis, naan, parathas, pitas, focaccia, tortillas or Tortas de Aceite again. (And yes; I could also have made more wildyeast bread – it seems to be turning into flatbread more often than not these days. )
But for BBD, I really wanted to make something new. So I googled to see what other kind of flatbreads are out there. Happily, wikipedia has a HUGE list of flatbreads handily categorized by country.
There near the top was Bing (China). I hit the link to find out what “Bing” could be. And lo and behold; one kind “Cong You Bing” is a favourite of mine: green onion cakes! For ages, I’ve wanted to try making green onion cakes!
I LOVE green onion cakes!!
(click on image for larger view and more photos)
I remembered that Barbara (Tigers and Strawberries) had made them so that was the first place I went. I also peeked at a few other recipes on the internet and saw that the recipes were all basically the same.
green onion cakes
based on a Barbara Fisher’s recipe for Scallion Pancakes
- ½ c (125ml) whole wheat flour **
- 1 c (250ml) unbleached all-purpose flour **
- ½ c (125ml) boiling water*
- 3 green onions, chopped in coins
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- seasalt and pepper
- canola oil
- coarse salt
- coriander leaves, for garnish (optional)
- In a bowl, mix flours. Add boiling water gradually, stirring with a chopstick until you have a soft dough. The amount of water may vary drastically depending on air temperature and humidity. You just have to play with it. The resulting dough is relatively soft but not at all soupy – basically the consistency of playdough.
- Using as little extra flour as possible, knead in the air or on a board for about 8 minutes until the dough is soft and silky.
- Form into a tight ball and rub with sesame oil. Cover with a damp cloth, lid or plastic and let sit on the counter for 30 minutes to an hour.
- Grind a good shot of pepper into a small dish. Mix seasalt into it. Cut green onions into little coins and place them in a separate small dish. In a third small dish, pour the sesame oil. Set the dishes aside.
- After the dough has rested, divide it evenly into 6 pieces. Begin rolling the bread (cover the extra pieces while you work). Form the piece of dough into a ball and flatten it. Roll it out into an oval til it is quite thin but not too thin (this is again is one of those infuriating things where you will just have to practice to find out what thinness works best for you). As you roll out the dough, make sure it is not sticking to the board and that there are no holes. Keep the rolling pin lightly dusted with as little flour as possible and the board the same way.
- Rub the surface with sesame oil, sprinkle on salt and pepper and a 6th of the green onions. Hand-roll the oval into a tube. Coil the tube into a tight spiral and use the rolling pin to roll it out again into a disc about ⅛ inch thick.
- Roll out the other pieces in a similar fashion.
- Put the tava (or griddle, or cast iron frying pan) on medium heat. Add a slosh of canola oil. (Again, this is apparently something that will have to be learned.)
- Put the tava (or griddle, or cast iron frying pan) on medium heat. Add a slosh of canola oil. (Again, this is apparently something that will have to be learned.)***
- Put as many of the discs onto the tava as will fit comfortably. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes per side until golden brown. Don’t worry if there are a few darker patches.
- Remove to a plate and sprinkle the discs with coarse salt. Serve immediately. Garnish with coriander if you like.Notes:
* Under no circumstances should you use water from the hot water tap. Water from the hot water tap sits festering in your hot water tank, leaching copper, lead, zinc, solder, etc. etc from the tank walls… the higher temperature causes faster corrosion. Of course, saying that it is unsafe to use water from the hot water tap might be an urban myth, but why tempt fate? Heat the water in a kettle or microwave.
** Please note that a Canadian cup holds 250ml. When I measure flour, I really fluff it up in the bag before scooping out flour to roughly fill the cup.
*** This is still a work in progress and we have not yet figured out how to cook these cakes so that they will be light and flaky on the inside and golden and crisp on the outside.
We could fit three discs onto our tava. T was quite disapproving about the depth of the cakes and was very worried that they wouldn’t be flaky like the green onion cakes we’ve had at Chinese restaurants. He tasted one that was done earlier than than the others and asked me to roll the rest of the discs more thinly. More like paratha… So I did.
T preferred the thinner very crispy paratha-like green onion cakes. I preferred the thicker ones even though they weren’t delicate and flaky the way I had hoped.
Our green onion cakes weren’t so disastrous that I became so disheartened never to attempt this again. In fact I still adore green onion cakes and we’ll definitely try this again at some point soon. (On the same token, it’s likely that we’ll be making paratha sooner. )
Thanks to Petra for this challenging theme for bread baking day!
previous posts about various flatbreads:
- pita, pita, who wants pita!
- pita bread fix
- pita on the stovetop
- making buns on the barbecue
- focaccia (WTSIM…#4)
- Sage Focaccia (BBD#01)
- focaccia again (WHB#91: Rosemary)
- Paratha: easier than chapatis!
- Aloo Paratha: get stuffed! (WHB#33: coriander leaf)
- crisping papadam
- Bread Discs – the good kind (Tortas de Aceite)
Think of indian chapati, naan, dosa or paratha, of italian focaccia, ethiopian injeera, swedish knäckebröd, scottish oatcakes, turkish pide, mexican tortilla, jewish matzo, armenian lavash, south tyrolean Vinschger Paarlen… this list could go on and on. As there are so many pure flatbreads I would like you to exclude rich ones like pizza and related baked goods.
I would love you to participate and join flatbread baking day. All you have to do is bake a flatbread of your choice, take a photo and blog about it now and [1 March 2008].
For complete details on how to participate in BBD#07, please go to:
Please also read about previous BBDs and WBDs:
blog from OUR kitchen posts:
- Occhi di Santa Lucia (BBD#06)
- semolina fennel seed bread with currants & pinenuts (BBD#04)
- Wild Bread with Walnuts and Raisins (WBD 2007)
- Wild Caraway Rye Bread (BBD#03)
- Wild Bread with Olives (BBD#02)
- Sage Focaccia (BBD#01)
- 1st try at Portuguese Corn Bread (WBD06-afterhours)
- 2 kinds of bread for WBD 2006
- BBD#01 – bread with herbs (roundup)
- BBD#02 – bread with fruit (roundup)
- BBD#03 – bread with rye sourdough (roundup)
- BBD#04 – bread with spice(s) (roundup)
- BBD#05 – filled bread (roundup)
- BBD#06 – shaped bread (roundup part one)
BBD#06 – shaped bread (roundup part two)
- WBD2007 (roundup) and after hours party
And finally, before completing your BBD post, if you haven’t already, don’t forget to read about
edit 3 March 2008: Hurrah! Petra has posted the roundup! Check out the many wonderful flatbreads here: