Flatbreads With Za'atar 8.000

Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post

Feb 4, 2019

According to the author, these tangy flatbreads are the top snack food in the Palestinian territories, where you can buy them throughout the day at bakeries and street stalls in all the main cities.

Adding yogurt to the dough keeps the bread lovely and soft and gives it a texture somewhat akin to that of naan.

For making these flat breads in home ovens rather than in the clay, fire-powered taboon ovens used in Palestinian cooking, baking them on a pizza stone is the best way to go.

We found in testing that folding the disks of dough in half, with the za'atar seasoning paste tucked inside and then re-rolling, yields softer, lighter flatbreads. Also, grinding or slightly crushing the seedy za'atar blend before you mix it with oil produces a more pronounced flavor.

To read the accompanying story, see: A new Palestinian cookbook’s challenge: Shedding light on a cuisine without a country.

Make Ahead: The dough needs to rise twice: first, for 1 hour, then as separate disks for 15 minutes. The baked flatbreads can be stored in an airtight container for up to 1 day.


Servings:
8

When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 8 servings; makes 6-inch rounds

Ingredients
  • 2 cups (300 grams) flour, sifted, plus more for dusting
  • 1 tablespoon active dried yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • About 2/3 cup plain full-fat yogurt
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
  • 1/3 cup lukewarm water (100 degrees), or more as needed
  • 5 tablespoons za’atar

Directions

Combine the flour, yeast, salt and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough-hook attachment, or, if you are kneading by hand, combine in a large mixing bowl.

Whisk together the yogurt and 3 tablespoons of oil in a liquid measuring cup, then add to the flour mixture, along with half the water.

Knead the dough on medium speed for 5 to15 minutes (or longer by hand), to form a dough that is smooth, silky and pliable. If it looks a little dry, you can add the remaining water a little at a time.

There are a few ways to tell whether your dough is ready. You can give the ball of dough a firm poke with your finger and, if the indentation that you make fills quickly, you know it’s done. If the dent stays, then continue kneading. A windowpane test involves taking a small piece of dough from the ball and stretching it between your fingers and thumbs into a very thin, almost translucent, square (so it looks a bit like a windowpane). If you can stretch the dough nice and thin without it breaking, then it’s ready. If not, keep kneading it for a few more minutes.

Once the dough has been well kneaded, use your fingertips to smooth its surface with a little oil, to coat it lightly. Place in a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm place for about 1 hour, or until doubled in size.

Stir together the za’atar and the remaining 5 tablespoons of oil in a small bowl, to form a thick paste.

Knock the air out of the dough by firmly whacking it on your work surface a few times, then divide it into 8 same-size pieces. Use a rolling pin to flatten each piece into a disk about 6 inches wide and 1/4-inch thick. (At this point, you could brush the za'atar paste on each disk of dough, fold in half and re-roll to the right size; see the headnote). Cover with a clean, damp dish towel and let it sit for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, place your pizza stone (or two baking sheets) in the oven; preheat to 500 degrees.

When you are ready to bake, brush the za'atar paste over each disk of dough (unless you have already included it during the rolling step).

Lightly dust the baking surfaces (stone or baking sheets) with flour. Working in batches as needed, place the flatbreads on the hot stone or sheets; you will probably have to cook them in batches. Cook for about 3 minutes until they start to puff up, then remove from the oven while you cook the rest. You can serve these immediately, or wait until they have cooled. They will keep for about 24 hours.

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Recipe Source

Adapted from "Zaitoun: Recipes From the Palestinian Kitchen," by Yasmin Khan (W.W. Norton, 2019).

Tested by Ali Sharman.

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