Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Flatbread Fanaticism Week Day #2: Picnic Wraps

At the start of today I was still riding the euphoric wave of yesterday's pita experience. I woke up tickled and amazed that yesterday I was able to bake bread without heating up the kitchen on a day when the official temperature reached 100 degrees. The scent of fresh bread wafting through the house in July still lingered in my mind, so this morning I strutted around the house with the swagger of Mick Jaggar, oblivious that today would be my Altamont (I guess, I am exaggerating a bit. There weren't any Hell's Angels involved and no one was stabbed).

Now you'd think that I'd ride the wave of confidence from yesterday right into day #2 of my week of Flatbread Fanaticism. Folks, I did ride that wave, directly into a jagged reef. My day ended with my skillet smokin', my confidence shaken, and some charcoal-scarred scraps for my dog.

Today I set out to prepare the Picnic Wraps from the King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion, an essential book in my kitchen. The recipe is a play on the traditional flour tortilla. I don't know why I decided to make wraps. I've never ordered a wrap sandwich at a restaurant, and I find the idea of calling a tortilla a wrap foolish. I guess, I attempted this recipe simply because it was a flatbread, and I liked the simplicity of the recipe.

To give myself some variety, I split the recipe in half and prepared two flavors (I loosely use the term flavor).

Ingredients for Chipotle Wraps (Makes 4):
  • 1 cup of flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cups water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
Ingredients for Plain Wraps (Makes 4)
  • 1 cup of flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cups water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  1. In a medium-sized bowl mix, together combine flour and oil. Gradually add and mix the salt and water.
  2. Knead until the dough is smooth.
  3. Divide the dough into four pieces. Round them into balls, cover, and allow them to rest for 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat an ungreased skillet over medium heat. Working with one piece of dough at a time, roll it out into a 8 inch-diameter circle.
  5. Fry the wrap for about 45 seconds on each side until it begins to brown and bubble.
  6. Cool and store in an airtight container.
Despite my lack of success with this recipe, I decide to still post a full report, complete with pictures. I want to be honest in my successes and failures.

First, my skillet was smokin' hot, which wasn't a good thing. My kitchen filled with smoke:
(Note the charred aftermath of The Great Wrap Fiasco of 2008).

Once smoke filled the kitchen, my dog arrived at the scene. She knows that when there's smoke in the kitchen there might be tasty debris tossed her way.
When the wraps made it through the heat and smoke, they resembled rubbery, fake food. Perhaps, kneading the dough longer would prevent this from happening.
Now they did taste OK -- not great, just OK -- and I did like the color of the chipotle wraps. However, they needed more chipotle powder to kick the flavor up a few notches.
Overall, I don't see myself making these again. I just can't get past the rubbery texture of the wraps. I'm a traditional tortilla or old school bread guy, and I don't see this recipe becoming part of my repertoire. Despite all of this, I appreciate the experience; my struggles have taught me much. Now I just need to lick my wounds, circle the wagons, and ponder my move for day #3 of Flatbread Fanaticism.

Keep your skillet good and greasy,

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