Francisco's Manaaeesh (Flatbread with Za'atar)
Adapted from "Spice" by Ana Sortun
Za’atar is a Middle Eastern seasoning mixture that usually contains thyme, oregano, basil, sumac, and sesame seeds. It’s delicious sprinkled over this soft, pillowy flatbread from the chef-owner of Oleana in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
What to buy: Za’atar can be purchased at Middle Eastern grocers or online.
- 1 (1/4-ounce) packet active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
- 3/4 cup warm water (110°F to 120°F)
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for oiling the bowl
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 cup za’atar
1In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, mix the yeast into the warm water and let the mixture stand until a gentle foam blooms across the surface, about 10 minutes. The water must be under 120°F or it will kill the yeast.
2Whisk in 1/4 cup of the oil and add the flour and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt.
3Using the dough hook, stir on low speed until the flour is combined and it forms a dough. Increase the speed to medium and knead the dough for 7 to 8 minutes, until the dough is still sticky to the touch but stays on the dough hook in one piece.
4Lightly oil a large stainless or glass bowl and scoop the dough into it. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for a minimum of 2 hours or overnight; the dough should double in volume.
5About 2 hours before baking, brush 2 tablespoons of the oil on a heavy baking sheet, place the dough on the sheet, and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise again for 1 1/2 hours at room temperature.
6Heat the oven to 375°F and arrange a rack in the middle.
7Press the dough onto the baking sheet, using your hands to stretch and pull it into the corners, forming a flat 10-by-12-inch rectangle. Make dimples in the dough with your fingertips (this creates little pockets for the oil and za’atar to collect in) and brush the dough with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil.
8Sprinkle the za’atar evenly over the dough and then sprinkle the whole bread with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt.
9Let the dough rest for at least 20 to 30 minutes more, uncovered and at room temperature.
10Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown on the edges and cooked all the way through in the center. Serve warm.
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