My oven decided to conk out on me the other day, and I've been trying to figure out what I want to do, if I should invest in it and pay a repair person to try and fix it, to buy a new oven, or to manage without it (after I wrote this post, I got informed that a neighbor is giving away an oven and we're probably going to get it), and I was first leaning towards trying to manage without the oven as long as we can, see how long we can handle just cooking on the stove top. Yes, an oven is convenient, but is it really necessary? Well, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it isn't as simple as that, that while I can manage using only my gas burners, a lot of the frugal, made from scratch things that I like to prepare for my family to eat require an oven. Desserts and other baked goods are very hard without an oven, as well as bread. Basically, I decided that until we get a new oven, it looked like I wouldn't be able to make any more homemade bread for my family...
And then I remembered this old recipe that I had for lahoh, a yemenite flatbread made entirely on the stove top. Bendable like a good taboon bread, this spongy bread is wonderful for eating with dips, or for wrapping around various foods like shawarma, I used to make it fairly regularly, as it was cheap and easy to make and very tasty, but since going gluten free, that fell out of rotation; when my friend Judy recently wrote about how it's her family's favorite bread, I had played around with it and finally figured out how to make it gluten free and delicious. The gluten free version isn't exactly like the glutenous one- the one made with wheat flour is more bubbly and fluffy, but this one is still very delicious. If you haven't had a chance to make my gluten version one yet and you're gluten eaters, I suggest you try it out. It works with whole wheat and spelt as well as white flour.
For my gluten free version, I used green buckwheat flour, brown rice flour, and potato starch, corn starch or tapioca starch, but feel free to use whatever gluten free flour mix you prefer, just make sure to include extra xantham gum to allow it to be flexible, as well as holding in the yeast bubbles.
2 cups green buckwheat flour AND 1 cup brown rice flour AND 1 1/4 cup potato/corn starch AND 1 tablespoon xanthan gum OR 4 1/2 cups wheat, whole wheat, or spelt flour
3 tablespoons yeast
2 tablespoons coconut sugar or 1 tablespoon white sugar or other sweetener of choice
2 teaspoons salt
4 1/2 cups water
Oil as needed
1. Mix all the dry ingredients together very well, making sure it is uniformly mixed.
2. Add the water and mix well, so that no clumps of flour remain behind.
3. Let it rise until bubbly and doubled, ideally. Originally I waited an hour for it to rise, but in the summer in my house I've just been keeping an eye on it and making it whenever the batter looks like in the picture below, typically in half an hour.
4. Very lightly grease a non stick frying pan. I use cast iron. Don't use too much or this will be too greasy- I've even made lahuh without greasing the pan at all, but then it stuck a drop too much. Use as little oil as possible, and then every few batches, as needed, add a drop more oil.
5. Take a ladle-full of batter and spread it in a circle in your heated frying pan. I keep mine on a medium high heat. Use the ladle to make the batter thinly spread, but not super thinly. (Very thin and it will crack, very thick and you'll just have a very thick bread that takes longer to cook.) It doesn't have to be perfect.
6. Put on a cover and cook for two minutes. After two minutes, most of the batter should have solidified and you'll be left with something looking like this.
7. Slide a spatula underneath, making sure not to rip the lahoh at all, and then carefully flip it over onto the other side.
8. Cook for one more minute on this side, then use your spatula to remove it from the pan, and make another batch.
9. Stack the lahoh on top of each other. When first made, the bottom of the lahoh will be crispy, but the heat and steam from other lahohs will soften it, making it deliciously bendable.
10. This recipe makes about 8-9 lahohs- I'm not sure exactly how many, as my kids kept on taking them as they were coming out of the pan.
11. Store covered, so they don't dry out. I usually put the plate of lahohs inside a plastic shopping bag to keep the moisture inside.
12. Serve hot or cold, ideally with sauces or dips, such as tahini dressing, hummus, eggplant salad, tomato based dips (cooked or raw), zaatar and olive oil, or hilbeh.
Have you ever had lahoh before? What did you think of it? Did you ever make it from scratch? Does this look like a recipe you'd try, gluten free or not?