Kefir flat bread

This bread was inspired by Tom Jaine's recipe for naan bread which is in his excellent book: Making Bread at Home, 1995. However instead of using the recommended lump of the previous day's dough, I decided to experiment with the kefir fermented milk as the one and only source of leavening. The results were very good indeed and I have now come to the conclusion that any recipes calling for either a lump of the previous day's dough, or a sourdough starter, or a biga can easily be adapted to the this method. Moreover the kefir dough starter works equally well with kefir made either with the sieve or the bag method. Just go for it!


Oven at 220C, 425 F, gas mark 7.

The day before add enough kefir to your flour in order to make a nice kneading bread dough. Do not forget the salt. Knead until the dough is elastic and smooth. Place in a bowl, cover with cling film and leave overnight in a warm place. I leave mine in the airing cupboard. Next day, when the dough is well risen and before it collapses, knock it down and divide into little lumps. I usually made 16 little ones, but you can make bigger ones if you like. Stretch them out by hand so that the dough is about 1/2 cm thick. Place on a well oiled tray dusted with maize meal, cover with oiled cling film and leave in a warm place for about half an hour or until risen. Before baking, gently brush the tops with the melted fat of your choice as this gives the bread an extra touch of luxury. Bake for about 5 to 8 minutes or until they have coloured a bit. Watch out that they don't get toasted, this bread should be soft. Serve at once or keep wrapped in a cloth until needed.

These little flat buns don't keep that well. However you can revive them, by sprinkling with water and placing them in a hot oven or grill, just for a few minutes. You can, before baking, sprinkle the buttered tops with poppy or nigella (charnuska) seeds. Or even with some garlicky herb butter. Delicious!

I have also used this kefir dough as a pizza base. For that just make enough dough the day before for your usual size pizza. As a rough guide for each cup of flour you need a third of a cup of kefir. If you haven't got enough kefir to spare, top it up with water. With luck the bugs in the kefir grains will not let you down. Any problems? Then get in touch with me. I would love your feedback.

Maria Fremlin, Colchester, U.K., 25 February 2001

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