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Prep 24 hrs
Cook 10 mins
From Daniel Leader, Lauren Chattman: "Since her undergraduate days, my daughter Liv has been traveling back and forth to the Middle East to study Arabic and Hebrew and to write about Arab-Israeli conflict and resolution. She introduced me to mana’eesh, the daily bread of the Eastern Mediterranean. In many rural villages, women still spend the early hours of the morning crouching over their low courtyard ovens, baking the day’s bread. As Liv traveled through Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, and Palestine, she sampled some delicious variations of this olive oil rich bread, most often topped with za’atar, a mixture of dried thyme, sesame seeds, and sumac."
- Combine the flour, yeast, and salt in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the water and oil and give the mixture a few turns with a rubber spatula until a rough dough forms. Knead on medium speed until the dough comes together but is still a little ragged, about 7 minutes. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl or dough-rising container, cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight. It will double in volume.
- One hour before you want to bake, remove the dough from the refrigerator. Turn it onto a lightly floured counter top and use a bench scraper or sharp chef’s knife to divide it into 2 equal pieces for large flat breads or 6 equal pieces for small ones. Shape the dough pieces into loose rounds, sprinkle with flour, and drape with plastic wrap. Let stand until puffy and almost doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
- While the dough rounds are proofing, place a baking stone on the middle rack of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Line a baker’s peel with parchment paper. Use your hands to stretch the larger dough pieces into 8-inch circles or press the smaller ones into 3-inch circles. Place the dough circles on the parchment-lined peel. Press your fingertips into the dough rounds to create little dimples. Brush the rounds liberally with olive oil and sprinkle with za’atar.
- Slide the dough, still on the parchment, onto the hot baking stone and bake until lightly browned, about 10 minutes for large breads, 7 minutes for small ones (don’t overbake or they’ll be too hard). Slide the breads, still on the parchment, onto a wire rack to cool slightly. Serve warm, or cool completely and serve at room temperature. Mana’eesh are best eaten on the day they are baked.
- For longer storage, freeze in a zipper-lock plastic bag for up to 1 month. To defrost, place on the counter top for 15 to 30 minutes, and reheat in the oven at 350°F for 5 minutes before serving.
This was actually pretty simple to prepare and the taste was very authentic to us. We had this with a dinner of left over turkey and veggies from the holidays and enjoyed the blend of spices but did have to leave off the sumac as couldn't find it here in Trinidad. I've recently gotten into trying differant flat breads and this one will be a favorite. Made for Newest Zaar Tag Game.