Lebanese flatbread is a popular breakfast food in Lebanon and also accompanies most meals. It is usually flavoured with za'atar, a spice mixture composed of thyme, sumac, and sesame seeds. Most Lebanese buy the bread from street vendors rather than baking it at home because home ovens cannot rival the flavour imparted by the wood-fired earth ovens bakers use, says Annisa Helou in the book "Lebanese Cuisine." You can, however, make a reasonable approximation at home.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Challenging
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Things you need
- 1 tbsp active dry yeast
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 cups warm water
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 6 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 tbsp za'atar
Whisk the yeast and sugar into the warm water in a large mixing bowl. Let the mixture sit for about 5 minutes -- it should begin to look bubbly.
Mix in the salt and flour. Add more flour if the dough is very sticky, or more water if it is very dry.
Cover the bowl loosely with a kitchen towel or cling film and let the dough rise for about an hour, or until doubled in size.
Dust a cutting board or a clean counter top with flour. Dump the dough out on the floured work surface. Flour your hands as well.
Preheat your oven to 232 degrees C. Rub two large baking trays with oil or spray them with non-stick cooking spray and put them in the oven to heat.
Punch the dough down and knead it for five to eight minutes, until it feels smooth. Knead by pressing the dough with the heels of your hands, then rotate the dough, fold it over on itself and repeat.
Divide the dough into eight pieces and roll each piece out with a rolling pin until it is about 1/4 inch thick.
Brush the top of each flatbread with olive oil.
Mix the za'atar into the rest of the olive oil. Spread this mixture over the tops of the flatbread.
Remove the baking trays from the oven and place the flatbread rounds on the baking tray. Return them to the oven and bake for eight to ten minutes.
Transfer the flatbread to wire racks to cool.
Tips and warnings
- If you can't locate za'atar in the grocery store, make your own by mixing 2 heaping teaspoons of dried thyme, 1 heaping teaspoon of dried marjoram, and 3 tablespoons of sesame seeds.
- You can also grill Lebanese flatbread. Preheat the grill to medium-high with the rack about 4 inches above the heat source. After brushing the breads with olive oil, place them on the grill oil side down. Brush the top side with olive oil. Flip the breads when they begin to puff and the bottom is brown. Cook until the other side is brown, then remove them from the grill. Sprinkle za'atar over the breads after cooking.
- Make sure to use warm water, not hot; water hotter than about 48.9 degrees C will kill the yeast. Water that feels comfortably warm on your skin is the right temperature.
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