A surprisingly easy Middle eastern flatbread, full of flavor and chewy. Yum!!
Mana’eesh (manaqish, manakeesh, man’ousheh) is a popular Eastern Mediterranean bread consisting of dough topped with Za’atar and olive oil. It is a staple in the Middle East, very popular with children and adults alike. I’ve read stories of children pushing each other aside, clamoring for their share of this wonderful bread. In some countries, women bring their dough to a central oven in the morning to cook their family’s bread for the day. This is a chewy flatbread similar to a very nice pizza crust, seasoned perfectly with olive oil and Za’atar.
‘Breaking bread’ is a metaphor for having a meal together. Bread is magical, a wonderful gift for the recipient whether they are the immediate family sitting down to dinner or a lucky neighbor. Proofing dough on the counter alerts family members that something special will be served at dinner. The aromas of bread, baking in the oven, is a cure for bad-day-itis.
This recipe is inspired by Yasmeen’s recipe from her great aunt. She has a lovely blog called Wandering Spice which chronicles her experience with food and her family. Her stories are genuine, heartfelt and so very interesting. Beware, you will be sucked into another world, a world where family matters, food is slow and stories bind the generations. An Arab-American-Australian world, far different than my own, that melds all of the goodness from each culture into a wonderful family that shares recipes, stories and cooking tips.
I used a food processor and changed the order of ingredients to better cope with flour and water ratios. I live at 4500 feet and recipes turn out differently here than at lower elevations so I split the flour to accommodate our elevation and lack of humidity issue. It worked really well. I also added a little salt for flavor. In this recipe you can use a cookie sheet or a baking stone that is pre-heated in the oven. They both turn out very well.
- 2 Lg eggs
- 4 cups of all purpose flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup water
- olive oil
- 1/2 cup warm (about 110 degrees) water
- 1/2 tsp yeast
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- OPTIONAL TOPPINGS:
- Ground, cooked lamb
- Feta or any soft, meltable cheese
- Chopped tomatoes
- Stir sponge ingredients in a small bowl and set aside for 15 minutes.
- Slightly beat the eggs until just mixed and set aside.
- In a food processor add 3 cups of the flour, the salt and pulse 4 times to add air.
- With processor on, add the eggs slowly, then add the sponge and 3/4 cup water, you should have a wet dough mixture.
- Slowly add the remaining one cup of flour until the dough comes together and forms a ball with the dough coming away from the sides, you may not use all of this remaining flour.
- Remove dough from processor and turn out onto floured surface.
- Knead slightly with additional flour if necessary to form a well formed ball.
- Coat lightly with olive oil and place in a large bowl, cover with plastic or a damp dish towel and rest for 2 hours.
- Preheat oven to 400F.
- Divide dough into 12-14 pieces.
- With well-oiled hands, press out dough with fingers into a round and place on cookie sheet, bread should have dimples where your finger prints were. If the dough isn't relaxed, let sit for 15 minutes and try again.
- Brush with olive oil and sprinkle generously with Za'atar.
- Bake for 12-17 minutes until golden brown.
- Bread should be slightly crispy on the outside and chewy like a good pizza crust.
Bon Appetit Y’all!