Updated: Jun 20
Over the years, we learned a few things here and there about staying hydrated and keeping the calories regulated when we're in the field.
There are hunts that take us away from camp for extended periods, the spring black bear hunt comes to mind. Typically, we leave camp around 4 pm and may not be back until midnight or later. The days are long and temps can be high at that time of year. Dropping an animal far back in the boreal forest means that skinning and quartering need to happen in situ, and if the shot occurs at last light, you know you're in for a very long evening.
Calories and water are crucial in these moments. Shaking, low blood sugar hands, are not good when sharp knives are being flayed about. Let's say I am exaggerating here a little, it is still not a bad thing to be well caloried-up and watered while hunting or fishing in the backcountry. And yes, my hands do get a little shaky, and my mind and body show signs of sub-optimal performance when I'm hungry.
What does any of this have to do with Bazlama, John?! Let me tell you.
Bazlama is the ultimate bread to have with you in the field. It can even be made in camp! It is an easy flatbread to make and is so handy to have along in my pack. A couple of bazlamas along with some veg or cheese or charcuterie, and that there is a great meal to keep me going for several more hours. Bazlamas are also one of the crucial ingredients when making doner kebab too, so it is a good recipe to have in your arsenal. Here is the recipe that I like best. I usually make these ahead and freeze them to take with me...but I've also just made the dough and then cooked them on the wood stove in camp. Delicious!
The Ultimate Bread, Bazlama!
1 packet of dry yeast, or about 3/4 of a tsp.
1 tblsp sugar
1 tblsp salt
1-1/2 cups warm water (blood temp)
1/2 cup greek style yogurt
4 cups flour (not going to tell you where you should buy your flour from, but everyone should have their own flour person)
In a separate bowl combine the yeast, sugar, yogurt, and warm water. Note that if the water is too hot, you will kill your yeast. Mix this up well and then cover it with a towel or something and just leave it to sit for 15 minutes or so. After this time you should see a thick froth of bubbles at the top. If you don't, just wait a bit longer. If you don't have a good froth going after an hour, your yeast is hooped and you'll need to start again. We keep our yeast in the fridge. I haven't had a failed yeast bloom that I ever recall.
In your mixer combine the remaining dry ingredients; the flour and the salt. DO NOT add the salt to the wet mixture! That is another great way to kill your yeast. Mixing it into the flour helps to diffuse the saltiness so that the yeast can thrive later in the process.
Now that your wet ingredients are nice and frothy, add them to the dry and mix away at low speed until you have a nice loose dough. This dough should be the texture between a loaf of bread and a pancake batter. It may be wetter than you were expecting. But honestly, we are indeed making pancakes here basically. There is no need to knead the dough. Just get it mixed together thoroughly and get the proteins formed so that it has a little spring to it when you lift the spoon or paddle out of the dough.
You can now leave the dough at room temperature for several hours or even refrigerate or freeze it.
Making the Flatbreads
Make your bazlamas when the dough is at room temperature and has had at least a couple of hours of proofing.
Heat up a nice-sized cast iron frying pan and drizzle some olive oil. I use medium heat here. We need the breads to cook through without burning on the outside. Maybe your stove or fire is medium-high. You will need to be the judge here. And know that if your pan is too hot, just roll or pat the dough a little thinner. Repetition will help you. You'll get the hang of it quickly.
I usually take a large cooking spoon and let it be the gauge for portioning the flatbread. On a well-floured board, spoon out the dough, and then using your hands spread the dough out into a roughly circular shape. You could also use a rolling pin, but the hand method makes a more rustic and authentic shape. I aim to have the breads be about a cm thick...or thereabouts. This doesn't need to get technical at this point.
Into the pan go your bazlamas! A few minutes on each side and you're there. Play around with heat and bread thickness to get the bread product that you are looking for. These are super-easy.
Want to know my favourite thing about making bazlama? Eating the first one while I cook the rest. I usually make up a little bowl of olive oil and balsamic vinegar for dipping. I suspect that there is almost always more than one flatbread that goes missing during this process.
So there you have it, my favourite Bazlama Bread recipe. I hope you enjoy this bread recipe as much as I do. Cheers!