Sunday, February 16, 2014

Rgaïf – A Flatbread for Bread Baking Babes


Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary. 
Cecil Beaton 

Curiosity often goes hand in hand with fear. Curiosity, inquisitiveness has driven me my whole life, yet fear has more often than not held me back, kept me from exploring, discovering, trying. I would love to be daring, jumping into things with both feet, hair flying, eyes wide open (or eyes shut tight, throwing my fate to the gods, having complete faith that I will land squarely on both feet), yet fear gets the better of me once too often. Some people, brave souls, grab fear by the horns, turning it into some kind of adventure or a personal challenge. Others, such as I, avoid it, sidestep around it, keep it at bay no matter how strong its twin, curiousity, gnaws and titillates.

Curiosity and fear stand hand in hand in my own kitchen. We are adventurous eaters and normally pretty adventurous cooks. My husband, as you know, stomps forward fearlessly, tossing things into a pot, simmering, stewing, tasting, never really worrying about how it will turn out. He believes that you just have to try or you will never know.

I, on the other hand, not so much. Not as daring. I fear that a recipe or experiment won’t work, that it will not please my family, that everything will just end up being dumped in the trash. Or disappointing. And so I put off projects. For years. Panna Cotta. Pastry Cream, Mayonnaise. Yeast bread.

Yet, when I finally gather together the courage, it all usually comes out. Sometimes fine, sometimes spectacularly. And even if hit or miss, well, it is never really that bad, is it now? Sometimes I need to be pushed… by husband, by circumstances or by friends. And who doesn’t love a good cooking or baking challenge? The lovely Bread Baking Babes have made me stretch my courage, my daring and my talents to the limits. And stretched almost to the breaking point, once or twice. Like this month’s recipe. I am simply not very good at pan-cooked flatbreads but Lien, our Kitchen of the Month, chose Rgaïf… and I put it off until… today. The posting day for February’s challenge. But as this is the Babes’ 6th Anniversary, I knew that it was doubly worth putting out the effort.

I believe the most important single thing, 
beyond discipline and creativity is daring to dare. 
Maya Angelou 

Making the dough is quite simple and fun, even the very long kneading process is fun. Stretching the dough is tricky and fiddly and most definitely needs practice, but really worth the effort. No rising time and no oven baking, all done in a pan on the stove, make this a great last-minute treat for either savory (to accompany a curry or a tagine) or sweet (a wonderful snack slathered with honey, maple syrup, jelly or jam or chocolate-hazlenut spread).

Go on… dare!

Thank you Lien of Notitie van Lien for choosing Rgaïf as Bread Baking Babes recipe for February.

Check out Lien’s Rgaïf and then visit all of the Babe’s and see how theirs turned out – I even think some of the Babes filled theirs before cooking! And if you want to be a Bread Baking Buddy this month, find out how on Lien’s BBB post.

Bake My Day – Karen
Bread Baking Babe Bibliothécaire – Katie
blog from OUR kitchen – Elizabeth
Feeding my enthusiasms – Elle
girlichef – Heather
Lucullian Delights - Ilva
Living in the Kitchen with Puppies – Natashya
My Kitchen In Half Cups – Tanna
Notitie Van Lien – Lien
My Diverse Kitchen – Aparna (new Babe!)
Bread Experience – Cathy (new Babe!)

Recipe adapted from Vrijdag couscousdag by R. Ahali

Makes about 10 flatbreads.

500 g flour
5,5 g dry yeast
½ tsp salt
± 250 ml water
50 ml olive oil

Mix flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl.

Kneading by machine: Add water and start kneading with the dough hook, adding more water as necessary. Knead until the dough is very elastic and doesn’t stick to the sides anymore.

Kneading by hand: Make a well in the centre and add some water, start mixing in the flour where it touches the water. Little by little add more water and keep mixing in the flour. Start kneading, grease your hands with a little oil to prevent sticking. Knead about 20 minutes. Add water if it feels too dry. The dough needs to be very elastic and no dough should stick to your hands.

To shape: Make 10 dough balls. Coat every ball with a little olive oil. Let them rest for about 5 minutes. Flatten the ball with your hand as much as you can. Stretch the dough. Take care to get no (or a little as possible) holes in the dough. You need to stretch the dough until it gets as thin as you can, thinner than paper if possible. It’s best done on a counter top, stretching the dough and sticking it to the surface, so it doesn’t spring back. This is not easy. Now fold the dough in squares by folding the round sides inwards.

Cook the squares in a hot large pan on both sides until browned. Only use more oil if the Rgaïf stick to the pan. You can also deep fry them (as the do in southern Morocco).

To serve: The Rgaïf can be served with a savory meal ; they are perfect eaten with curries or tagines, or eaten with sliced méats, cheese, etc. They are also wonderful eaten as a snack with jelly or jam, chocolate spread, maple syrup or honey. The Rgaïf can also be filled much like naan before folding and cooking.


Renee Goerger said...

Love the word fiddly. I'm looking forward to fiddling with this dough. Yours look lovely, Jamie.
Renee - Kudos Kitchen

Sweet and That's it said...

They looks so yummy and I love the idea to have them with jam, chocolate spread... (sweet tooth! That's what I am!!)
Looking forward to making them.
Thank you Jamie

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Fantastic! I love that kind of flatbread. Something I will try very soon.



Lien said...

Jamie, your pictures are so tempting, lovely with some marmelade/jam. We ate ours with soup, now I need to try them with something sweet. Happy Babe anniversary!

MyKitchenInHalfCups said...

Just so gorgeous Jamie, word and picture, just so perfect! Dare, did we double dog dare you!? You show your Babe colors so so well especially with a dare.
Happy Anniversary!

Aparna said...

I'd say your flatbreads turned good. I'm quite daring with my cooking/ baking but I do tend to put off making certain recipes if I feel they wouldn't be well received by the family (and many haven't been). :)
Which is why I decided to fill mine.

Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) said...

Although I've never made this particular flatbread, I've made others, with decent results. For some reason, flatbreads work for me, where so many other things that you Babes whip up would completely intimidate me! Your flatbreads look lovely to me. I might even try this recipe.

Maureen | Orgasmic Chef said...

I must confess I've never made flatbread but I love eating it. I have no idea what's the matter with me but I want what you made! Fiddly or not.

Heather Schmitt-Gonzalez said...

I sometimes put things off until the last minute, pushed back by that fear, as well. But as you said, things always seem to turn out! Your flatbreads look lovely, and I'm itching for a little cherry preserves now...

Cathy W. said...

Your flatbreads look perfect Jamie. Lovely photos and a wonderful story as usual. Thanks for the inspiration. Happy 6th Anniversary!

Natashya KitchenPuppies said...

Beautiful! I love the jammy blob in the photo. So fun!

Katie Zeller said...

Definitely savory for me... I think. Although that jam looks tempting - Sigh.
Love your first 'old' photo...

Rambling Tart said...

This bread is beautiful, Jamie. I love all the dark bits. :-) Good for you stretching yourself in this way. :-)

Elizabeth said...

I too kept putting this off. I was terrified. Silly me. It was dead easy, wasn't it?

Your bread, of course, looks spectacular. I love the look of that jam!

Baking Soda said...

Seems we were all scared by this one, surprsing to use it with sweet. Makes me wonder...
Love the dark flecked look of your bread, so authentic!

Anonymous said...

thought the name of this bread was msamen Jamie as my friends in marrakech said !!

Anonymous said...

thought the name of this bread was msamen Jamie , thats how my friends in marrakech said !! I love this bread especially the one with onions and herbs for breakfast , freshly cooked in the street

Barb | Creative Culinary said...

Procrastination. Something else we share.

What a lovely simple bread; I've been going crazy with tortillas lately, this is now urging me to try something new. Maybe I'll wait until right before I'm hungry. :)

Meeta K said...

I always tend to procrastinate with finicky dough. But my goal this year is definitely to bake more bread at home and not fear difficult doughs. This looks amazing like our Indian prathas!

Bizzy Lizzy's Good Things said...

Jamie, how very delicious... I so want to bake this... our seasons are just changing now from summer to fall... I can hardly wait! Thank you for a beautiful recipe!


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