Panbread

We find bread a lot when we go dumpster diving. I mean really, a lot.

For example:

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The trouble with that is, at those times when we don’t have bread, it is somehow hard to get myself to go out and spend money to buy it from the supermarket, since I know that if I just wait a few hours, there is a good possibility that I will find in the trash exactly the thing that I would have paid for, in ten times the quantity that I can even hope to eat, and then I’ll just want to kick myself.

But of course, if it’s 2pm and I just made some beans or some soup or whatever and it really, really calls for bread, waiting until 10pm tonight isn’t exactly a solution. This is a time for panbread.

Panbread is a fantastic hobo food weapon. You need only very cheap, basic ingredients that you can get anywhere, and you don’t need an oven or any fancy equipment (you can even make them on the fire). And, they taste good.

(For any sticklers reading this, I get that panbread is not a thing. I’m just calling it that because calling it flatbread makes it sound too much like I have a clue what I’m doing when I make these. )

So here are the absolute basic ingredients:

  • Flour
  • Baking soda
  • Bit of salt (to taste)
  • Water

A note on the flour: If you are using whole wheat or semolina flour, it’s a good idea to mix it with, say, half regular white flour, just because you don’t want to make the baking soda’s job too too difficult. But if it’s all you’ve got, it will still work. It’ll just be a bit chewy.

If you happen to be well-supplied and want something tastier, you can get creative and add any number of different things to improve these. Some ideas:

  • Olive oil
  • Garlic
  • Olives
  • Spices– I like to throw in some fennel seeds, or herb de provence, or whole cumin seeds, depending on what you’re serving them with.
  • Sun-dried tomatoes
  • caramelized onions

Here’s what you do:

Get a bowl.  Dump in your flour, your baking soda, your salt, and your dry spices, if you’re using any. Mix around so that all the ingredients are evenly distributed. Now throw in any wet add-on, like chopped olives or garlic or sun-dried tomatoes, and mix again. Slowly add water bit by bit while mixing with your hands until a dough forms (if you add too much water, you can always just throw in a bit more flour to make up for it). Knead for three or four minutes, and then let the dough sit for another five.

Cut the dough into quarters, or eighths, depending on how much you’ve made. Roll them into balls, and them grab anything that is around to roll them out flat. I usually use an empty olive oil bottle.

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And now all you have to do is throw them in a pan and let them cook for a few minutes on either side. Voila.

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Now you just need to cook up something else to serve you bread next to. I made them here with Foul, but they’re great with spinach and white bean soup as well.

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