Hi all—thanks to the webmaven for posting my blog entry on the fabulous food in China. We’re travelling in Uzbekistan (Central Asia) and eating quite a lot of bread. I thought you might like trying this recipe for Middle Eastern bread. I made this before we started our travels from Tehran to Beijing.
An edible mosaic, Middle Eastern fare with extraordinary flair, 144pp.
by Faith E Gorsky
Tuttle Publishing, Hong Kong, 2012
Cooking on page 32
What a find! I checked this book out of the library and came across two greats in the world of cooking blogs.
Faith Gorsky wrote this book and Lorraine Elliott wrote the foreword. Ever heard of them? Nope, I hadn’t either. Or I thought I hadn’t. Gorsky’s popular blog has the same name as the book, and Elliott is the author of the famous notquitenigella blog.
At first I wondered how Gorsky came to be a Middle Eastern food expert, but then read that her skills were acquired over the years and at the side of her Syrian mother-in-law.
So let’s see what she created on page 32.
Middle Eastern flatbreads (Khubz Arabi)
4 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
4 tablespoons warm water
5 cups (650 g) all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
2 teaspoon fine salt
1 cup (250 ml) plus 2 tablespoons milk, room temperature
Brush 1/2 tablespoon of oil on the inside of a large bowl and set aside.
Mix together the yeast, sugar, and warm water in a small bowl until the sugar is dissolved.
Whisk together the flour and salt in a large bowl. Use a wooden spoon to stir the yeast mixture into the dry ingredients, then stir in the remaining 4 tablespoons of oil. Stir in the milk.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes: the dough is done being kneaded when you press a finger into it and the indentation remains.
Transfer the dough to the oiled bowl and roll it gently to coat with oil. Cover the bowl with a slightly damp towel and let it sit until it’s doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.
Gently deflate the dough, shape it back into a ball, and place it back into the bowl. Cover the bowl with a slightly damp towel and let sit until puffed, about 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven (from the lower heating elements) to 500°F (260°C) and position a rack in the lower 1/3 of the oven. Place a large baking sheet or a clay baking stone on the rack.
Divide the dough into 10 equal pieces and shape each into a ball. Place all the dough except 1 piece back into the bowl and cover with the towel. Lightly flour your work surface and, with a rolling pin, roll 1 piece of dough out to a circle about 10 to 12 inches (25 to 30 cm) in diameter.
Transfer the rolled out dough to the preheated baking sheet or clay baking stone. Cook until it’s puffed and there are a few light golden spots on the bottom, about 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer the bread to a cloth or paper-lined surface to cool completely.
Roll out the rest of the dough, and bake and cool it the same way. Wrap the cooked bread in a soft cloth or zip-top plastic bag to stay fresh.
How it played out
I made this as written except that there was no way I could roll out each piece of dough to 10 to 12 inches. The best I could get was 8 inches, or thereabouts.
I did, however, get 10 pieces of dough. I weighed the large blob of dough—1030 grams—and pinched out 10 balls of 100–105 grams each.
Each loaf took a little longer to cook than the suggested 2–3 minutes, and it was great fun to watch the process through the oven door.
Took these to the end-of-the-week drinks and trivia quiz at work, and 12 people demolished the lot, using the bread to mop up my homemade hummus and olive tapenade.
I was gobsmacked by how well each loaf rose—a couple really ballooned up. I’ve read so many reviews by people who have made a recipe like this and had no luck at all with them rising.
Look forward to making these again. In fact I doubt that I’ll ever buy commercial flatbread again, when I have such an easy and foolproof recipe. That said, I’ll probably cook them a little longer to get a more golden result.
And as a last comment, I thought you’d like to know that the word ‘khubz’ in Arabic means both bread and life.