Flatbreads are too often compared to pizza. After all, that’s what most Canadians think of when we say bread, sauce, cheese, and toppings. Flatbreads are so much more than that, as internationally recognized cultural icons of belief systems and philosophy. In celebration of flatbreads, we’re highlighting a few of our favourites in addition to our own Lebanese-inspired manakeesh. So in tribute to doughy rounds from around the world, here are some different flatbreads you may not be expecting.
Lahmacun is a Middle Eastern flatbread, sometimes labeled as ‘Turkish pizza’, ‘Armenia pizza’, ‘Lebanese pizza’, or ‘Syrian pizza’. It’s round and thin, topped with mincemeat which is commonly beef or lamb, minced veggies, and a variety of herbs and spices like cayenne pepper, paprika, cumin, and cinnamon. Like some of the other flatbreads on this list, lahmacun does not contain cheese. It continues to be a popular dish in cities across Armenia, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, and worldwide.
The first name to hit on our list of flatbreads is pissaladiere which comes from southern France. Its’ thin and sturdy crust is a base on which everything from black olives to anchovies, roasted roma tomatoes, and soft caramelized onions are tossed upon. Pissaladiere is generally cooked sans cheese. For cheese-lovers, this is definitely not the flatbread for you. In French culture, pissaladiere is typically served as an appetizer and sold in the morning. Think of it as something you can eat with your tea or coffee.
Pide is another Middle Eastern flatbread originating from Turkey. It look something like a boat but it’s actually a very tasty flatbread. Delving beneath the crust, you’ll find mounds of mozzarella and Turkish sausage although it can be stuffed with other meats and protein like pepperoni, roasted lamb, chicken, ground beef, or egg.
Flammekueche is otherwise known as a tarte flambee and is a German dish composed of thinly rolled out bread dough and covered in cream and white cheese as well as thinly sliced onions and lardons. It is considered a regional specialty and is very pizza-like, though usually comes in a rectangular or oval shape. Traditionally, flammekueche flatbread is cooked in a wood-fire oven. Variations of this popular flatbread including the addition of gruyere cheese, mushrooms, or munster cheese. There is even a dessert alternative incorporating apples, cinnamon, blueberries, and other similar ingredients.
Khachapuri is an oftentimes forgotten about flatbread from Georgia. The bread is usually leavened, allowed to rise, and is shaped usually with cheese in the middle. In essence, this is a cheese-filled bread dish. Many people partaking in khachapuri usually break off the crust to dip in the cheese in the middle. The filling is not only cheese but usually eggs and other ingredients. Within Georgian culture, it is a very popular flatbread among women and seniors, and is considered the country’s nation dish and a major representation of their cultural heritage. North Americans may look at it and say to themselves, it’s more or less a cheese canoe and they’re not entirely wrong. Although in Georgia, they use sulguni cheese, this is hard to find in Canada. In its place, you may find molten mozzarella and feta cheese topped with a runny egg. Yum!
Focaccia is a flatbread oven-baked from Italy which is similar in style and texture to pizza dough. It’s commonly offered as a side to different Italian meals or used as a sandwich bread. With rosemary, focaccia’s popularity is in part due to its versatility in being served as an appetizer, snack, or table bread as needed. Think of focaccia as a sort of pizza without the cheese and toppings. In some sense of the word, it’s simply bread and herbs. This allows easy customizations to be made and in Italy as well as Italian communities worldwide, it’s an absolute favourite.
From Lebanon and Syria, manakeesh is a flatbread that relies on olive oil brushed over its top, a covering of za’atar, and is topped with everything from seasoned ground beef to mild cheese. Manakeesh is probably one of the closer flatbreads on this list to a pizza and comes with many centuries of history behind it. The manakeesh dough needs to be rolled flat and then, pressed with the fingertips to create the necessary dips for the toppings to congregate in. Manakeesh recipes have been shared generationally, usually baked in time for breakfast or lunch, and in Lebanon are traditionally prepared by women in a communal oven in the morning. Then, the manakeesh sits out for the whole family to eat.
Although these are all amazing flatbreads when prepared correctly and authentically, as a Lebanese Toronto restaurant, there’s only one that really gets us and that’s manakeesh. In preparing our manakeesh, we have taken it back to authentic open flame baking. That’s how they do it in Lebanon and around the world, and that’s what you’ll taste here at Al’deewan Bakery. There are places you can find flatbreads in Toronto but none like this. There’s a huge difference between authentic open flame baking and not having that open flame.
Hot and delicious manakeesh comes as low as $2.50 + tax and includes customizations like cheese, cheese and beef, zaatar manakeesh, beef manakeesh, and more. We’ve also got plenty of other menu options like falafel wraps, hummus plates, zatar veggie sauce, spinach and cheese flatbreads, baba ganoush plates, veggie pizas, sujur saugage flatbreads, kishk, and more. We’ve invested a lot in getting the menu just right and ensuring the method of preparation is top notch. We’ve got something for everyone at Al’deewan Bakery and if you’ve never had an internationally influenced flatbread like Lebanese-style manakeesh, here’s your chance. The oven’s on, the bread’s in the oven, and we’re cooking up some amazing flavours every day of the week so be sure to stop in during business hours. For the best tasting manakeesh in Toronto, the GTA, and dare we say it Ontario, try Al’deewan Bakery.