I thought I would try my hand at making “bread in 30 seconds” which is something that Steven Harris says can be done (I ran across a link to his video about it). I figured that was easy enough so I quickly retrieved my small propane burner and gathered the ingredients to make it, which include:
- 2 cups of flour
- 1 tbsp oil (I used olive oil but I think he used vegetable oil)
- 1/2 tsp salt (I used a heaping teaspoon)
- 1 cup water (he didn’t specify an exact amount so I assumed it was similar to other recipes which is roughly half the flour used)
Since I didn’t want to do too much work today, I halved the recipe. For those that have done some baking from scratch I’m sure you’ve realized that we’re missing yeast and maybe a few other ingredients. Remember, this is REALLY simple bread and isn’t meant to be leavened and, yes… it’s flat bread. And, hence, the reason why we can make it so fast. Following are the steps as I see them (click any picture to enlarge).
Step 1: Mix Ingredients
Mix everything like you would any other bread recipe expect there’s no waiting period for the yeast to work and no need to use warm water, etc. The picture above actually shows the original “ball” of dough on the left and roughly a golf ball-sized chunk of it on the right which is about the proper size to work with, though, you can certainly make it larger if you like. You want the dough wet enough to stick together yet dry enough to not be sticky. I consider it a bit of an art form that I have yet to master so it’s best to not add all of the water called for in the recipe at one time; instead, use most of the water in the beginning and then small dashes as needed to get it to finally clump together.
Step 2: Roll Flat
Take the golf ball-sized chunk and roll it flat. Then do it again! You want it to literally be flatter than a pancake. Really, thinner is better. I used a rolling pin but I guess you could use just about anything cylindrical if you had to. It helps to sprinkle a bit of flour on the cutting board (under the flour you’re rolling out) as well as atop the flour and definitely on the rolling pin in order to keep the bread from sticking to the rolling pin as you work. Maybe there are some other/better tricks that you seasoned bakers know of but that’s what I do.
Step 3: Finish and Gather Bread
Once flat transfer to a plate. The above picture shows them stacked together. If you want to stack them like I did them sprinkle (and spread out) a bit of flour atop each piece of bread before laying down another otherwise they may stick together. I ended up with five rolled-out pieces of flat bread.
Step 4: Cook Fast
A simple single burner propane stove like this is perfect for making flat bread like this. I intended to take pictures while I cooked but I got so wrapped up in watching the bread and timing each one that I completely forget. Sorry about that! Anyway, I used what I would consider a medium-high heat setting. While I really like the single-burner stove I have there isn’t much range when it comes to heat output; it’s almost either on or off.
Step 5: Admire Your Work
I actually decided to test different times (and even using oil) in order to see if there was any major difference in how the bread came out. I can definitely say that there was a difference. I basically tested times from between 30 seconds and two minutes, mostly without using any oil. The bread is numbered in the order that I tried and every bread used NO oil except the first attempt. Here’s what I found:
- 90 seconds (with oil) – I’m not accustomed to cooking things in a pan without any oil and, though I don’t recall the video showing he used any oil, I went with what I knew to start. I basically cooked it until I felt like it was done but I’m not sure I had the pan quite as hot on this first attempt as I did the others so maybe that made a difference too. I would suspect that if I had used oil on future attempts I might still want to cut the time back a bit.
- 60 seconds total (most of it on the first side) – this turned out descent but still felt just a little gooey to me in the middle. It wasn’t a big deal.
- 30 seconds total (about 15 seconds on each side) – this was NOT completely cooked in the middle. If you ask me, 30 seconds total was not enough. Perhaps if I had flattened out the bread even more then maybe it’s enough time but I can’t imagine flattening it much more than I did.
- 2 minutes total (cooked until I noticed very significant bubbling) – this was too long as the bread obviously burned.
- 60 seconds total (30 seconds on each side) – since I felt like 60 seconds was a good time I wanted to ensure each side got the same cook time. This bread seemed to be cooked fairly well.
Step 6: Taste Test
It seems to me that I gravitated toward the 60 second breads (numbers 2 and 5 in the previous step’s photo) more than either the 30 second bread (number 3) and definitely more than the cooked until serious bubbling bread (number 4). I didn’t mind eating my first attempt which included the oil in the pan. Overall, I would say that 60 seconds turned out to be a good amount of time. Using oil would be helpful to avoid burning but doesn’t appear to be necessary.
So, bread in 30 seconds? Not quite but close. Let’s call it bread in 60 seconds for sure. The best part is that you could repeat this dozens of times on a single one-pound canister of propane because it’s so quick.
Here’s the original video from Steven Harris if you’re interested:
Hope this helps.
[EDIT: In response to a few comments, I completely understand I just made a tortilla. And, like it or not, a tortilla IS bread. In this case, it’s bread made in roughly 30 seconds or so. I apologize if the title is misleading as I should have titled it better. My interest in doing this post was to try what I learned from Mr. Harris as referenced in the beginning of the post. Rightly or wrongly I essentially copied his tagline as my own. With the assumption that fuel is a precious resource, time is short, nerves may be shot, this type of bread may be the best we can do.]