Lahmacun

Long before I met Mrs Foodie, I had a girlfriend who was vegan.

Well… vegan apart from all the eggs, cheese, ham and lahmacun she’d eat.

In fact, we ate so much of it that I could actually tell which local shop our lahmacun had come from. I’m a huge fan of this Turkish flatbread cum pizza, and never got bored of it, so all these years later, with no Turkish bakery anywhere near me, I thought I should make my own now that I have some bread making skills.

I would stress that my lahmacun is not a traditional lahmacun. The Turks make the bread a bit thicker, it’s a bit more like meat on a fluffy flatbread and they roll it up a bit like a brandysnap. Kungfoodie is all about the crunch. I like to make it a bit more like pizza, and make my lahmacun dough thin so it gets really crispy.

And so, without further ado, here is how I butcher a well loved Turkish tradition

For the bread – makes about five:
250g bread flour
160ml tepid water
1/2 tsp fast acting yeast

For the filling:
300g lamb mince (although I sometimes use to 400g if I’m hungry)
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 a chilli (optional – I only include this because it’s what most other places do. I’m a chilli lightweight so I never make this with chilli)
1/2 large onion, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
A small handful of mint – chopped
A small handful of parsley – chopped
Salt to taste

To make the dough, it’s the usual mix it all together, and knead it till you can stretch it so thin you can see through it. If you have a mixer, great, if not and you’re a sucker for dough deltoid, do it by hand. It’ll take a about 8-10 minutes. Leave to rise till doubled in size.

It’s important that you don’t make the dough too springy. You want it stretchy, not springy. If you think you’re done, give the dough a good stretch. If it springs back to its original shape like an elastic band, keep kneading. You’re going to roll it thin in and if it’s springy it’ll just boing back to whatever shape it was in before.

Whilst the dough is rising, just mix all the ingredients for the filling together and leave it in the fridge to season. You can use a chopper if you like. I always do because I’m lazy but if you’re a knife ninja the chopping doesnt take too long.

When the doughs ready, flour your surfaces well and get your oven up to 220C. I like to weigh the dough and divide into five and then make five dough balls of that weight. Flour your rolling pin and roll each one as thin as it’ll go. If the dough is stretchy y’ll be able to get it about 2mm thick. Put on a floured baking sheet and then just smear the topping all over it. Traditionally you would smear it all the way to the edges, the meat will shrink a bit when it cooks.

As you can see I tend to leave a bit round the edges so I can hold it without getting my fingers too greasy. Its always inconvenient when you want to change the channel and your fingers are oily. Being a man I never have any napkins handy. This recipe from Lola Elise here has photos on how you should be smearing the topping on.

Into the oven for about 10 minutes. Be surprised as to how much grease comes out of lamb mince. You never know which way the grease is going to flow, so if you left a bit round the edges with the topping in the previous paragraph you’ll have some bits of bread base still grease-free so you’ll be able to pick it up without making a mess. Oh and your kitchen might start to smell of doner kebabs. It’ll be the cumin and the lamb. I happen to love that smell as it brings back sweet memories of the “Deathwagon” but that’s another story.

As mentioned before, traditionally you would roll the lahmacun up, but because I like it really crispy, my lahmacun don’t roll up. If you do want to roll them you can make them a bit thicker, and cover them with a tea towel when they come out of the oven. The steam will soften them enough to roll – I think. I’ve never actually done that.

After ten minutes, haul it out and serve immediately. You’ll have a nice and crispy lahmacun. It goes well with cacik, which does remind me.. I should note down my recipe for cacik.. as I’ll have messed with that one too..

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