Technically speaking, a flatbread is unleavened, meaning it has no yeast, baking soda, or baking powder. "Flatbread is a general term for any bread made from unleavened dough, often in round, flat loaves or forms," writes Barbara Ann Kipfer in The Culinarian: A Kitchen Desk Reference.
In common parlance, though, the meaning of flatbread in America has morphed into something very simple and basic: a dish that often resembles a thin-crust pizza, but rectangular (-ish), and sometimes jazzed up with the addition of sauce and toppings. Many recipes developed in test kitchens for food and drink websites and also cookbooks will often feature a bit of yeast or baking soda, but not too much — otherwise, the finished product wouldn't be so, well, flat anymore.[slideshow:
We're not here to delve into a boring, protracted discussion of how and why the term "flatbread" has been "punched down" over time (we assume that you are here mainly to put lunch or dinner on the table), but we do think it is interesting to bring up because it informs the selection of recipes in this roundup.
Oscar del Rivero, executive chef of several restaurants in south Florida including Talavera Cocina Mexicana and the Peacock Garden Café, shares a Fresh Tomato and Basil Flatbread Recipe that, yes, looks suspiciously like thin-crust pizza, and yes, uses baking soda, but whatever you want to call it, it's still delicious. Grilled briefly and then placed in the oven to finish up, it's well worth the effort of making dough from scratch.
For something a bit easier in a similar vein, Cheryl Najafi, author of You're So Invited and the website CherylStyle.com, has a Tomato and Goat Cheese Puff Pastry Flatbread that makes use of a little help from the store in the form of frozen puff pastry sheets. We think the key to making something new approachable is to have some element of familiarity, and using readymade dough is one shortcut that saves a lot of time.
And Viviane Bauquet Farre, author of Food and Style, shares a recipe that is truer to the "original" definition, yet still manages to blur the lines between true flatbread and pizza. Farre uses tortillas, which are unleavened, as the base for her Flatbread Pizza with Mozzarella, Portobello Mushrooms, and Fresh Herbs Recipe. Is it a pizza? Is it a flatbread? Maybe a little bit of both — a "pizza" that's based on flatbread.
For more mind-boggling yet delicious recipes, check out the slideshow.
Will Budiaman is the Recipe editor at The Daily Meal. Follow him on Twitter @WillBudiaman.