Thursday, March 22, 2018

Flatbread--Second Experiment

Today, because I had time before supper, I decided to give the making of flatbread another try.  This time, because we are having chili con carne for dinner, I figured I'd try making flatbreads from corn flour, of which I have a goodly amount in store.

The corn flour reacted very differently to the "slowly add in water" technique.  It became a soft cohesive mass fairly quickly, without a lot of stickiness.  In fact, bits tended to crumble off quite easily, so I kept adding water until that propensity was curtailed (though not eliminated).

The tortilla recipe on the corn flour bag is similar to the technique I've been using, but it presumes that the dough will not be rolled out, but will be stamped to size in a tortilla press, after the dough has been sitting, covered under damp cloths, for a while.  I covered mine with a wet, crumpled, paper towel, since I can imagine how impossible this dough would be to handle if it dried out.

Even though the dough did not dry out, it became no easier to handle.  I could mold it into a ball, but when I tried to make a flat cake out of it, it kept crumbling apart.  i ended up putting it in the pan when it was at least twice as thick as my wheaten batch, and I believe I undercooked it as a result (despite leaving it in the pan until it had at least a few char marks on it).

The tortilla directions on my corn flour bag suggested putting rather more salt into the dough than I was comfortable with using (a quarter of a teaspoon of salt for 2 cups of flour) and I wonder if adding more salt than the pinch I added would have made a difference.  I suspect, however, that corn flour, lacking gluten as it does, may require a slightly different technique than wheat flour.  If I ever make flatbreads with corn flour again, I will add a substantial portion of wheat flour (perhaps even a 50/50 mix) to see whether it improves the handling of the dough.

These experiments make me rather leery of trying to make flatbread from barley flour alone.  Perhaps I'll try a barley and wheat flour mix.  That mix may be easier to handle, and both grains were available to the Vikings.


  1. I'm sure you're aware that you can buy pure gluten powder at any large grocery. Perhaps you could add a bit of that to your corn or barley flours to improve the handling texture. Of course, this would not be authentic.

  2. I had not thought about artificially adding gluten (let alone gone looking for where to buy it) because, as you said, John, it would not be authentic--either to Mexican culture (corn flour) or the Vikings. But the Vikings did have both wheat and barley; for all we know they might have mixed flours to make flatbread.