We eat a lot of bread in this family--rightly or wrongly. I know bread is full of carbs, but I grew up with bread as a mainstay of almost every meal. In Greece, dinner isn't complete unless it comes with a basket of warm bread--crusty on the outside, and sublimely doughy on the inside. Bread is perfect for mopping up savory juices, and for blending the flavors as you eat. Bread is, after all, a staple of life. It's also the case that L. is an avid bread eater. He follows some unwritten yet almost universal rule of many kids on the spectrum with sensory issues in that he gravitates towards white, starchy, plain foods. Am I happy about this? Not really. But sometimes you have to work with what you have, and build to change it slowly. Sometimes the only way to get him to sit and enjoy a meal with us is to provide a basket of bread to accompany his food.
I am, as a result of all this, always on the lookout for interesting bread/dough recipes. In an ideal world I would start a loaf of bread in the early afternoon, let it rise gloriously on the back stove while tending to chores, or my own personal writing, and then, just in time for dinner, there would be a beautiful loaf of bread waiting. But in reality, I seldom have time during the week to go through the process of making a traditional dough recipe, with double kneading times. I have found many shortcuts over the years: quick pizza dough, for instance, that was a savior on those busy nights.
Last week I bought a new cookbook on a whim, after leafing through it. I buy almost all my cookbooks on whims, after a quick look through and mental visualization of what the recipes might be like when they are done, and set before me in all their glory. I bought this cookbook chiefly for the bread recipes at the back--particularly the one for Amdo bread (named after the Amdo region of Tibet, where the Dalai Lama was born), which is a traditional Tibetan bread that is baked in a pot, usually over a hot fire. The best part is that the bread is quick to assemble, and can bake away on a back burner in 35-40 minutes while you assemble the other parts of the dinner. The dough does need to "rest" for about 30 minutes after you mix it, but the recipe is so simple that it's easy to throw together during homework time, for instance, so it can rise a little in time for dinner preparations.
Amdo Bread (adapted from The Lhasa Moon TIbetan Cookbook)
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon dry yeast
12 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup water
coarse sea salt
Measure the flour into a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the center of the flour and place the yeast and baking powder in it. Add the water gradually and mix well. Knead the dough and let it sit in a warm place for about 30 minutes.
On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out into a circle about 2 inches thick. The dough circle should fit the bottom of the pot you'll be using.
Heat a thick-bottomed pot with high sides (I used a large saucepan). Brush the bottom and sides with oil. Place the dough circle in the pot and cover it. Turn the heat to low and cook for 20-30 minutes. When the top of the dough begins to get dry, check the bottom. I think my saucepan wasn't as thick-bottomed as it should have been, so my dough was ready to flip closer to the 20 minute mark. Lift up the bottom of the dough and take a peek. If it's lightly browned, it's time to flip and cook the other side for another 15-20 minutes.
When the bread is done, turn onto a cutting board. Brush the top lightly with more oil and sprinkle coarse salt over the top. Slice into wedges and enjoy! The first night I made the bread I also cooked up a cabbage and ginger stir-fry--the bread was the perfect complement for this. It's doughy on the inside, and the outer crust turns out golden and lightly crunchy--the perfect bread, in every way.