Riding the Baking Edge #6: Dream Layered Yogurt Flatbreads
by Susanna Crossman
This is the sixth in a weekly baking series dedicated to Leonora Carrington, the beasts of the forest, sumptuous feasts and all sorts of cake.
Dream Layered Yogurt Flatbreads
(Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
In the current climate of #BlackLivesMatter and the Coronavirus, how to write about bread? Interviewed, on Thursday June 9th, Angela Davis said, “”I don’t know if we have ever experienced this kind of global challenge to racism and to the consequences of slavery.” Yet, social uprising and bread are often fused, from the French Revolution to the cry of the 2011 Egyptian revolution: “Bread, freedom and social justice.”
These flatbreads involve coils and spirals of dough, rolled into invisible labyrinth layers. The method involves searching deep below the surface, under the crust, a recognition of history. The intricate preparation provides astounding culinary results.
Last week, I joked with my daughters. “To find my next recipe, we must plunge into what the sleep surrealist poet Louis Aragon called the “wave of dreams’.” My three daughters raised their eyebrows, smiling. We all love a wild dream. The following morning, I woke at dawn, from the dream of a snake spinning in circles round a room, upsetting papers and books, shaking pictures from frames. In the middle of the room, I had been standing with my three daughters, not moving. Immobile. Waiting.
The flatbread recipe came.
Depending on your culture and beliefs, dreams are nonsense, occult visions, or Freudian elaborations of subconscious themes, rewritten in a carnival splendour. For Aboriginal Australians, dreamtime is the origins of the world, a geography, a place, a continuum of past, present and future. Anthropologist W.E.H. Stanner wrote, “One cannot fix the Dreaming in time, it was, and is, everywhen.” For artist Punayi Nungarrayi, “The Dreaming…is a lived daily reality.” In The Dreaming, the snake is a fundamental symbol, as the serpent came from beneath the ground, and made the world, creating huge ridges, mountains, and gorges. The snake shapes the earth into coils. My dream seems to echo the shapes in this bread.
Leonora Carrington wrote: “I’ve always had access to other worlds. We all do because we dream.”
260g plain flour
2 teaspoons salt
200g plain yogurt
2-4 tablespoons water
4 tablespoons olive oil, ghee, melted butter, or coconut oil
If desired for stuffing the layers: fresh or dried herbs, finely chopped onions, grated cheese…. Choose what flavours give you pleasure. As Jung wrote “The pendulum of the mind oscillates between sense and nonsense, not between right and wrong.”
Make the dough, combining, flour, salt, baking powder, yogurt and 2 tablespoons of water. Mix by hand, or using a dough blade in your food processor. Form into a rough ball. Think about revolving, revolutions, how things turn. In 1880, Elisée Reclus wrote a book about change, transformation and equilibrium called Evolution and Revolution. Read it.
Transfer the dough onto your kitchen surface. Knead for 1-2 minutes. Breath. Knead. Focus on your breath. Inhale. Exhale. The etymology for the word inspire comes in part from Middle English meaning to “breathe or put life or spirit into the human body; impart reason to a human soul.”
Let the dough rest for 30 minutes.
Divide the dough into 8 pieces. One at a time, on a floured surface, roll into a circle, or oblong, approximately 13cm in diameter. Brush thinly with butter, ghee, or olive oil. If you desire, sprinkle with a filling (finely chopped onions, grated cheese, fresh herbs …) Roll into a cylinder, then turn into a coil.
Repeat 8 times. Take your time. Contemplate your dream from last night. An Aboriginal Australian proverb says, “Those who lose dreaming are lost.”
Let the dough rest for 30 more minutes. As the bread rises, think of Douceline of Digne, a 13th century holy woman, a Beguine, known for her ecstatic trances and levitation habits, made credible by the admission that “her feet would not be touching the ground except for her two big toes.” Bread and women rise.
Take one coil at a time, and roll into a thin circle, about 10cm in diameter. Conceal the layers. William Butler Yeats wrote,
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.
Heat a frying pan with olive oil. Place the flatbread in the pan. Cook one side until golden brown, turn and repeat. They will resemble Msemen Morrocon breads or Indian parathas. They can be enjoyed at any time of day.
As you eat the flatbreads, notice the layers inside, made from the turns of destiny. Look beneath the surface. Remember to send hope and solidarity to those challenging racism and protesting around the world. Aristotle believed hope is a waking dream. Let the dream enter your day and night. Make the bread and share it.
About the Author:
Susanna Crossman is an Anglo-French fiction writer and essayist, winner of the 2019 LoveReading Very Short Story Award. She has recent/upcoming work in Neue Rundschau, S. Fischer (translated into German), Repeater Books, The Creative Review, 3:AM Journal, The Lonely Crowd and more. Nominated for Best of The Net (2018) for her non-fiction, her fiction has just been short-listed for the Bristol Prize and Glimmertrain. Co-author of the French roman, L’Hôpital Le Dessous des Cartes (LEH 2015), she regularly collaborates on international hybrid arts projects. Currently, she is showing the multi-lingual prose film, 360° of Morning, with screenings and events across Europe and USA. She lives in France. @crossmansusanna.