Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Za'atar & Cheese Manakish ~ Levantine Flatbread #Breadbakers

Happiness is.....freshly baked bread!
Nod if you agree!


Over the past few months I have come to the conclusion that nothing makes me happier than being involved in the process of baking, whether it is cake or bread. I simply love baking and the happiness I experience is something I cannot describe. Baking can take my blues away, especially the aroma that fills my home when there's something baking away. Honestly, it kind of makes up for the ton of dishes that remain afterwards waiting to be cleaned. Being a part of a baking group has brought in some regularity in frequency of breads I make. Knowing that there is a new bread waiting to be explored every month is such an exciting feeling. Most of my bread baking happens on Fridays as the process is pretty lengthy if not laborious. The dough has to be kneaded and left to proof before being shaped and baked into something delicious. I like doing this without too many interruptions that usually happen on weekdays and so I like to allocate a special day for breads. By the time the bread is done there is still enough sunlight to give me decent photographs. 



This month's bread is hosted by Mireille Roc of The Schizo Chef who chose the theme 'Yeasty Flatbreads'. It didn't take me long to decide what I wanted to make. Ever since I saw the recipe for Manakish in the Friday magazine it has been on my mind - it seems like I have been smitten by it! The large Man'oushe (pronounced as 'manoo-sheh', is the singular form of Manakish, pronounced as 'mana-keesh') that I picked up from Carrefour some time ago was splendid and I really wanted to replicate it at home. However, as the days approached for me to make it I was hesitant and wondered if my readers in Mangalore would really be able to find the ingredients for the topping and even considered changing the recipe at the last moment but then I decided against it. I had my heart set on this bread for months so off I went to bake it. 

As always, I Googled to understand the food culture of the bread I was baking. Wikipedia tells me that the word Man'oushe (also called as 'manqushah') is derived from the Arabic verb 'naqasha' which means 'to sculpt' or 'carve out'. It means that once the dough has been rolled out it is pressed lightly with the fingertips to help the topping stay in place and not fall off once the bread has been baked. While initially I believed this bread to have its origins in Lebanon, further research led me to understand that it was not limited to one particular place but was a part of the culinary heritage of the entire Levant region. Levantine cuisine is the traditional food of what is known today as Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, Syria, Israel, parts of southern Turkey and northern Iraq.


In simple terms a Man'oushe is a Levantine bread (similar to the pizza) that is made of yeasted dough and sprinkled with a choice of toppings. It is a popular and much loved Levantine breakfast bread.

While cheese, minced meat or za'atar would be the classic toppings I decided to make the one that called for two of my favourites - za'atar & cheese. Za'atar is a blend of dried thyme, oregano, sumac and sesame seeds. Sumac is a native shrub that produces deep red berries which are dried and ground and used as a spice. If you can manage to find all the ingredients you can make the za'atar spice mix at home but otherwise if you live in the Middle East (or have access to Middle Eastern goodies where you live) just buy some ready made za'atar spice mix which is exactly what I did. 


Remember to roll out the dough a little more if you like it like a thin crust pizza but if you like breads that are spongy, airy and pretty much like a regular (thick crust) pizza then roll them into discs of 5" each. Enjoy!

Za'atar & Cheese Manakish
Prep time: 2 hours | Baking time: 10 mins | Yield: 8 mini manakish (of approx 5" - 6" in diameter)

Ingredients:

For the dough:
  • 500 grams plain flour (maida)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons dried yeast (I used instant yeast)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 310ml (1-1/4 cups + 2 teaspoons) hot water (not boiling hot) * see notes
For the topping:

Za'tar:
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon ground sumac
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
  • 4-5 tablespoons olive oil 
Cheese:
  • grated cheddar or parmesan, as much as you desire
Method:
1. To make the dough, sift the flour, sugar, yeast and salt into a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Pour the water a little at a time and knead until the dough comes together into a ball. Tip it onto a lightly floured, clean surface and knead, stretching the dough with the heel of your palm for about 8-10 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic.
2. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap/cling film. Leave in a warm place to rise until doubled in volume, approx 1-1/2 hours.
3. When the dough has doubled, tip it back on the work surface, punch it down to remove the air and knead lightly for approx 2 minutes. Then divide into 8 equal portions (I weighed the entire dough and divided it equally using a kitchen weighing scale - this way I got evenly sized dough balls).
4. Roll each ball between your palms until round and smooth and then flatten and roll out into discs of approx 5" in diameter and approx 6mm thick (this thickness will be similar to thickness of regular crust pizzas so if you like thin crusts then roll out the discs really flat, maybe 7" diameter). 
5. Cover the discs with cling film and leave to rise for another 20 minutes. In the meanwhile preheat the oven to 220 C and place two large baking sheets lightly greased with olive oil in the oven to heat (the baking sheets need to be hot too)
6. When the discs have risen again (after 20 mins), press the surface gently with your fingertips to enable the topping to stay in place. Brush the tops with olive oil and spread the za'atar mixture over the surface of each bread and gently place them using a large spatula onto the hot baking sheets. Bake for 10 mins or until golden brown. 
7. Remove the manakish and place on a wire rack. Garnish with grated cheese, cut and serve hot immediately with a dip or eat them just as they are.

Notes:
This bread needs to be eaten fresh as it will turn dryish and harden if left out uncovered for sometime. 
Instead of 310 ml of hot water you may use 1 cup (240ml) of water, 1/4 cup of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of milk which I believe will yield a much softer bread than I did (if you will keep the bread for a while you need it much softer). However I haven't tried it but believe the results will be good as with any bread that has fat (oil in this case) in it.

#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. Follow our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on this home page. We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient. If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send Stacy an email with your blog URL to foodlustpeoplelove@gmail.com

#BreadBakers - Yeasty Flatbreads

BreadBakers

26 comments:

  1. Your man'oushi is absolutely beautiful! I often have a difficult time deciding between zaatar and cheese when in a Middle Eastern bakery. I love that you have combined the two into a perfectly baked treat. Bravo!

    ReplyDelete
  2. @ Cali Cuisine: Thanks so much! Yes, it really is a beautiful combination that results in a really delicious bread :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Would you believe I haven't tried za'atar yet? Seeing your bread is making me want to right now. Lovely recipe!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Just stunning! I love this bread, and thank you so much for sharing some of its history, too! I don't have za'atar, but as luck would have it, I just got a seasoning blend developed by the Sabra hummus folks and Spiceologist for the Sabra pop-up restaurant in DC last year. It's called "Hummus House seasoning blend" and after reading your ingredient list for za'atar, I realize that that's pretty much what it is! Yay!

    ReplyDelete
  5. oh yum yum, loving it totally. awesome combination and a flavorsome bake!!!

    ReplyDelete
  6. @ Renee: You must try it if you can manage to find some! It tastes awesome if you like the aroma and taste of dried herbs, esp oregano :)

    ReplyDelete
  7. @ Jennifer: Thanks so much! I bet the Hummus House Seasoning blend is nothing but the Za'atar blend :) Do give this bread a try!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I love zaatar !! And this sounds like something I will be baking soon!! Delicious combo of.topping and beautiful bread...

    ReplyDelete
  9. @ Padmajha: Thanks so much!! You must try it out too :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. Delicious breads .. I love the zaatar flavour.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Your bread is new to me... But, your pictures are making me drool over it.... yummy..

    ReplyDelete
  12. Baking has the same effect with me, especially bread. Your za'atar looks amazing!

    ReplyDelete
  13. @ Shobha: Thanks so much! Yes, Za'atar is my favourite too!

    @ Shilpi: Thanks so much! :)

    @ Karen: Thanks so much! Isn't baking such a wonderful thing? :)

    ReplyDelete
  14. Well now that I have wiped the drool from my keyboard let me just say how wonderful your Manakish looks.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Beautiful bread Shireen! I'd love to take the first bite!

    ReplyDelete
  16. How have I never baked or cooked with za'atar before? I must give it a try and your bread looks like the place to start.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Za'atar and Cheese are definitely my fave toppings on Manakish! Mum's fave was Za'atar. We used to love having our evening Manakish now and then when I was in Dubai! Way to go Shirs!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Ya you are right baking tempts us to be happy.This is an awesome middle east flat bread.Thank you for sharing shireen..............

    ReplyDelete
  19. I made these before last year and loved them. With za'atar and cheese, these must have been delicious

    ReplyDelete
  20. Thanks for the history lesson! Lots of za'atar featured this month. I'll have to try to find some.

    ReplyDelete
  21. @ Wendy: Haha! Thanks so much!

    @ Cindy: Thanks so much! Yes, it tastes best when it's fresh out of the oven!

    @ Holly: You must! It's a beautiful bread with some amazing flavours!

    @ Georgina: Thanks so much! I got to know about it from one of your posts long ago on FB!

    @ Vimala: Thanks so much!

    @ Mireille: That's wonderful! Yes, they taste awesome with cheese :)

    @Kelster: You must try it soon! It tastes wonderful!

    ReplyDelete
  22. Manakish looks so soft and fluffy. Love the za'atar and cheese topping.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Beautiful, Shireen! We made similar breads but I love seeing how differently they turned out. Za'atar is awesome! And your photos are pretty awesome too.

    ReplyDelete
  24. @ Robin: Thanks so much! I loved your bread and I am really keen to try it out soon :)

    ReplyDelete

I'd love to hear what you have to say about this post!

If you are unable to post a comment, please write to me at ruchikrandhap@gmail.com

Last but not the least, my name is Shireen & not Ruchik :-)

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Za'atar & Cheese Manakish ~ Levantine Flatbread #Breadbakers

Happiness is.....freshly baked bread!
Nod if you agree!


Over the past few months I have come to the conclusion that nothing makes me happier than being involved in the process of baking, whether it is cake or bread. I simply love baking and the happiness I experience is something I cannot describe. Baking can take my blues away, especially the aroma that fills my home when there's something baking away. Honestly, it kind of makes up for the ton of dishes that remain afterwards waiting to be cleaned. Being a part of a baking group has brought in some regularity in frequency of breads I make. Knowing that there is a new bread waiting to be explored every month is such an exciting feeling. Most of my bread baking happens on Fridays as the process is pretty lengthy if not laborious. The dough has to be kneaded and left to proof before being shaped and baked into something delicious. I like doing this without too many interruptions that usually happen on weekdays and so I like to allocate a special day for breads. By the time the bread is done there is still enough sunlight to give me decent photographs. 



This month's bread is hosted by Mireille Roc of The Schizo Chef who chose the theme 'Yeasty Flatbreads'. It didn't take me long to decide what I wanted to make. Ever since I saw the recipe for Manakish in the Friday magazine it has been on my mind - it seems like I have been smitten by it! The large Man'oushe (pronounced as 'manoo-sheh', is the singular form of Manakish, pronounced as 'mana-keesh') that I picked up from Carrefour some time ago was splendid and I really wanted to replicate it at home. However, as the days approached for me to make it I was hesitant and wondered if my readers in Mangalore would really be able to find the ingredients for the topping and even considered changing the recipe at the last moment but then I decided against it. I had my heart set on this bread for months so off I went to bake it. 

As always, I Googled to understand the food culture of the bread I was baking. Wikipedia tells me that the word Man'oushe (also called as 'manqushah') is derived from the Arabic verb 'naqasha' which means 'to sculpt' or 'carve out'. It means that once the dough has been rolled out it is pressed lightly with the fingertips to help the topping stay in place and not fall off once the bread has been baked. While initially I believed this bread to have its origins in Lebanon, further research led me to understand that it was not limited to one particular place but was a part of the culinary heritage of the entire Levant region. Levantine cuisine is the traditional food of what is known today as Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, Syria, Israel, parts of southern Turkey and northern Iraq.


In simple terms a Man'oushe is a Levantine bread (similar to the pizza) that is made of yeasted dough and sprinkled with a choice of toppings. It is a popular and much loved Levantine breakfast bread.

While cheese, minced meat or za'atar would be the classic toppings I decided to make the one that called for two of my favourites - za'atar & cheese. Za'atar is a blend of dried thyme, oregano, sumac and sesame seeds. Sumac is a native shrub that produces deep red berries which are dried and ground and used as a spice. If you can manage to find all the ingredients you can make the za'atar spice mix at home but otherwise if you live in the Middle East (or have access to Middle Eastern goodies where you live) just buy some ready made za'atar spice mix which is exactly what I did. 


Remember to roll out the dough a little more if you like it like a thin crust pizza but if you like breads that are spongy, airy and pretty much like a regular (thick crust) pizza then roll them into discs of 5" each. Enjoy!

Za'atar & Cheese Manakish
Prep time: 2 hours | Baking time: 10 mins | Yield: 8 mini manakish (of approx 5" - 6" in diameter)

Ingredients:

For the dough:
  • 500 grams plain flour (maida)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons dried yeast (I used instant yeast)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 310ml (1-1/4 cups + 2 teaspoons) hot water (not boiling hot) * see notes
For the topping:

Za'tar:
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon ground sumac
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
  • 4-5 tablespoons olive oil 
Cheese:
  • grated cheddar or parmesan, as much as you desire
Method:
1. To make the dough, sift the flour, sugar, yeast and salt into a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Pour the water a little at a time and knead until the dough comes together into a ball. Tip it onto a lightly floured, clean surface and knead, stretching the dough with the heel of your palm for about 8-10 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic.
2. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap/cling film. Leave in a warm place to rise until doubled in volume, approx 1-1/2 hours.
3. When the dough has doubled, tip it back on the work surface, punch it down to remove the air and knead lightly for approx 2 minutes. Then divide into 8 equal portions (I weighed the entire dough and divided it equally using a kitchen weighing scale - this way I got evenly sized dough balls).
4. Roll each ball between your palms until round and smooth and then flatten and roll out into discs of approx 5" in diameter and approx 6mm thick (this thickness will be similar to thickness of regular crust pizzas so if you like thin crusts then roll out the discs really flat, maybe 7" diameter). 
5. Cover the discs with cling film and leave to rise for another 20 minutes. In the meanwhile preheat the oven to 220 C and place two large baking sheets lightly greased with olive oil in the oven to heat (the baking sheets need to be hot too)
6. When the discs have risen again (after 20 mins), press the surface gently with your fingertips to enable the topping to stay in place. Brush the tops with olive oil and spread the za'atar mixture over the surface of each bread and gently place them using a large spatula onto the hot baking sheets. Bake for 10 mins or until golden brown. 
7. Remove the manakish and place on a wire rack. Garnish with grated cheese, cut and serve hot immediately with a dip or eat them just as they are.

Notes:
This bread needs to be eaten fresh as it will turn dryish and harden if left out uncovered for sometime. 
Instead of 310 ml of hot water you may use 1 cup (240ml) of water, 1/4 cup of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of milk which I believe will yield a much softer bread than I did (if you will keep the bread for a while you need it much softer). However I haven't tried it but believe the results will be good as with any bread that has fat (oil in this case) in it.

#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. Follow our Pinterest board right here. Links are also updated each month on this home page. We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient. If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send Stacy an email with your blog URL to foodlustpeoplelove@gmail.com

#BreadBakers - Yeasty Flatbreads

BreadBakers

26 comments:

  1. Your man'oushi is absolutely beautiful! I often have a difficult time deciding between zaatar and cheese when in a Middle Eastern bakery. I love that you have combined the two into a perfectly baked treat. Bravo!

    ReplyDelete
  2. @ Cali Cuisine: Thanks so much! Yes, it really is a beautiful combination that results in a really delicious bread :)

    ReplyDelete
  3. Would you believe I haven't tried za'atar yet? Seeing your bread is making me want to right now. Lovely recipe!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Just stunning! I love this bread, and thank you so much for sharing some of its history, too! I don't have za'atar, but as luck would have it, I just got a seasoning blend developed by the Sabra hummus folks and Spiceologist for the Sabra pop-up restaurant in DC last year. It's called "Hummus House seasoning blend" and after reading your ingredient list for za'atar, I realize that that's pretty much what it is! Yay!

    ReplyDelete
  5. oh yum yum, loving it totally. awesome combination and a flavorsome bake!!!

    ReplyDelete
  6. @ Renee: You must try it if you can manage to find some! It tastes awesome if you like the aroma and taste of dried herbs, esp oregano :)

    ReplyDelete
  7. @ Jennifer: Thanks so much! I bet the Hummus House Seasoning blend is nothing but the Za'atar blend :) Do give this bread a try!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I love zaatar !! And this sounds like something I will be baking soon!! Delicious combo of.topping and beautiful bread...

    ReplyDelete
  9. @ Padmajha: Thanks so much!! You must try it out too :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. Delicious breads .. I love the zaatar flavour.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Your bread is new to me... But, your pictures are making me drool over it.... yummy..

    ReplyDelete
  12. Baking has the same effect with me, especially bread. Your za'atar looks amazing!

    ReplyDelete
  13. @ Shobha: Thanks so much! Yes, Za'atar is my favourite too!

    @ Shilpi: Thanks so much! :)

    @ Karen: Thanks so much! Isn't baking such a wonderful thing? :)

    ReplyDelete
  14. Well now that I have wiped the drool from my keyboard let me just say how wonderful your Manakish looks.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Beautiful bread Shireen! I'd love to take the first bite!

    ReplyDelete
  16. How have I never baked or cooked with za'atar before? I must give it a try and your bread looks like the place to start.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Za'atar and Cheese are definitely my fave toppings on Manakish! Mum's fave was Za'atar. We used to love having our evening Manakish now and then when I was in Dubai! Way to go Shirs!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Ya you are right baking tempts us to be happy.This is an awesome middle east flat bread.Thank you for sharing shireen..............

    ReplyDelete
  19. I made these before last year and loved them. With za'atar and cheese, these must have been delicious

    ReplyDelete
  20. Thanks for the history lesson! Lots of za'atar featured this month. I'll have to try to find some.

    ReplyDelete
  21. @ Wendy: Haha! Thanks so much!

    @ Cindy: Thanks so much! Yes, it tastes best when it's fresh out of the oven!

    @ Holly: You must! It's a beautiful bread with some amazing flavours!

    @ Georgina: Thanks so much! I got to know about it from one of your posts long ago on FB!

    @ Vimala: Thanks so much!

    @ Mireille: That's wonderful! Yes, they taste awesome with cheese :)

    @Kelster: You must try it soon! It tastes wonderful!

    ReplyDelete
  22. Manakish looks so soft and fluffy. Love the za'atar and cheese topping.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Beautiful, Shireen! We made similar breads but I love seeing how differently they turned out. Za'atar is awesome! And your photos are pretty awesome too.

    ReplyDelete
  24. @ Robin: Thanks so much! I loved your bread and I am really keen to try it out soon :)

    ReplyDelete

I'd love to hear what you have to say about this post!

If you are unable to post a comment, please write to me at ruchikrandhap@gmail.com

Last but not the least, my name is Shireen & not Ruchik :-)