Since we’d been treated with delights from J&G’s kitchen on more than one occasion (Jack put Wayne on his bread-baking bonanza, and Grace bakes up some mean curry cookies– yeah yeah, sounds weird, tastes awesome), we felt it was only right that we return the favor. If you haven’t been able to tell from my mention of our seeking it out in nearly every post in which we travel to a destination where Western food is readily accesible, we love pizza, and, if I may say so myself, have become quite adept at making it since back in China, when we’d use trash can bread dough as the base. These days Wayne makes a mean base from scratch, but after having a few successful attempts with this amazing Syrian Flat bread recipe from Five and Spice we were inspired to put a new twist on an old favorite.
Once again, we stayed pretty true to the original flatbread recipe, so I’m not going to be redundant here (and we’ve now seen twice before how inept I am at showing any respect to standard recipe format, which I imagine is just frustrating for everyone) and repeat a bunch of stuff. I will say that I went for the honey option (as opposed to sugar), used my tried-and-true coconut milk (I have yet to see buttermilk in Thailand, anyway), and substituted a cup of rye flour to good results. Oh, and maybe it’s the humidity in Thailand, or my personal affliction of hyperhidrosis (oh jeez… that article makes the condition sound way worse than it is…), but the suggested usage of 3 cups of flour has never worked for me in this recipe. I’d say by the time I’ve finished the 10 minutes kneading I’ve used at least 4. And… moving forward!
First: Collect your [flatbread] ingredients.
Second: Mix everything together. I mean, it’s a bit more involved than that, but see original recipe for the deets.
Third: Knead for 10 minutes. Again, don’t be afraid to add more flour if it’s getting too sticky! I’ve suffered no negative consequences from this (in this recipe, anyway).
Fourth: Allow to rise in an oiled bowl for an hour-and-a-half. Conveniently, this is just enough time to help your friends the Ting Tong Boys film the video for their ode to Thung Song, if you’re into that kind of thing.
Fifth: Divide the mass of dough as evenly as possible into eight balls. Or sixteen, if you doubled the batch like me. Allow these to rest for 20 min. This will give you time to prepare your toppings, though there will also be time for this later.
Sixth: Carefully flatten the balls. For no particular reason I do mine by hand, but I’m sure they can be rolled. If you do it by hand just be careful of forming holes (though they’re easily repaired if you do) with those clumsy thumbs of yours. Bake as instructed in the recipe– brushed with a bit of water, for 4-5 minutes.
Seventh: While the breads are baking you can prepare the sauce, if you’re so inclined, or get around to those toppings you were too lazy to chop while the dough balls were resting. Though I generally have to raise my eyebrows at cooks as skinny as Sandra Lee, I did always like her premise of cutting corners by using something that was already decent, or at least mediocre, and making it better. Her enthusiasm for cocktails was always endearing to me as well. Anyway, that’s the approach I take towards sauce… I take a can of normal tomato sauce and throw it in the blender with some fresh ingredients so it doesn’t taste like canned tomato sauce. It kind of varies by whatever I have on hand but it’s usually something along the lines of a few cloves of garlic, half an onion, some fresh basil, salt/pepper/other spices/olive oil/water until Wayne tells me he likes it.
Eighth: Finally, the fun part (because it definitely hasn’t been fun thus far)! This was actually a good dish for entertaining because everyone ultimately got to get involved a little and make their pizza as they liked it. If you have friends that don’t like the idea of “making their own food” when they’ve “been invited to dinner” maybe this isn’t for them. But Jack and Grace were good sports.
Ninth: Bake the pizzas at the same temperature as before until the cheese looks nice and melty; another 5 minutes or so.
Tenth: Serve and enjoy.
[Note: The photos of everyone “enjoying” the pizza were all decidedly unattractive so you’ll have to use your imaginations on that one.]