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Lebanese za'atar flatbread recipe

Lebanese za'atar flatbread recipe


  • Recipes
  • Dish type
  • Bread
  • Flatbread

Known as Manakish or Manaaeesh, this Lebanese flatbread is flavoured with zaatar, a Middle Eastern spice mix that is simply delicious. Slice the flatbread into bite-size pieces or wedges for dipping in creamy labneh or houmous.

9 people made this

IngredientsServes: 6

  • 1 (7g) sachet dried active yeast
  • 180ml warm water (43 C)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 250g plain flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 4 tablespoons za'atar
  • 3/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt

MethodPrep:20min ›Cook:15min ›Extra time:9hr30min proofing › Ready in:10hr5min

  1. Mix yeast with warm water in a large mixing bowl and allow to stand until a creamy layer of foam appears, about 10 minutes. Whisk in 4 tablespoons olive oil, then gradually stir in 250g plain flour and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
  2. Transfer dough to a floured surface and knead until smooth and just a little bit sticky, 10 to 12 minutes. Place dough into an oiled bowl and turn dough around in bowl to coat surface with oil; cover bowl and refrigerate dough overnight. (Dough should double in size.)
  3. Coat a baking tray generously with 2 tablespoons olive oil; place dough in the centre of the baking tray and flatten into a thick disc. Cover dough with cling film and let double in size, about 1 1/2 hours.
  4. Use your palms and fingers to gently press and stretch dough to the edges of the oiled baking tray, making the flatbread as even in thickness as you can. With fingertips, make small indentations in the dough. Brush dough with remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil.
  5. Stir za'atar and 3/4 teaspoon salt together in a small bowl and sprinkle evenly over the flatbread. Let dough rest for 30 minutes uncovered.
  6. Preheat oven to 190 C / Gas 5.
  7. Bake flatbread in the preheated oven until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes.

Note:

Za'atar is a Middle Eastern spice blend usually made of a combination of sesame seeds, sumac, thyme, salt, oregano and marjoram. It is available in most larger supermarkets.

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Reviews & ratingsAverage global rating:(7)

Reviews in English (4)

by Corvair

I have had these since a child. Always purchased at a Syrian place. I always kind of liked them, but was not crazy for them.Making them myself changed everything. They were fantastic.Just delicious.Someone mentioned taking out the salt. Foolish. The salt mixes with the spices and makes it that much better. Do not listen to them, include the salt.-17 Sep 2018


Recipe Summary

  • 3 cups warm water
  • 1 (.25 ounce) package yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 8 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour, or more if needed
  • 2 cups olive oil
  • 1 cup corn oil
  • 2 cups fresh za'atar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Mix water, yeast, salt, and sugar together in a large bowl. Add all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, olive oil, and corn oil mix using your hands, adding more whole wheat flour if needed, until dough holds together. Mix za'atar into dough until evenly incorporated (see notes).

Shape dough, about 1/4 cup per piece, into rounds on a floured work surface. Arrange rounds on baking sheets.

Bake in the preheated oven until lightly browned, about 25 minutes.


The Meatwave

There's nothing quite like fresh bread. I was at the end of a long and hot Meatwave this past weekend, having worked through about five hearty recipes that left all my all guests throughly stuffed when I finally got around the grilling this za'atar bread. I worried everyone would be too full to eat much of it, but it only took mere minutes after I put out the six whole pieces bread for them to disappear&mdashthe draw of hot, fresh bread is something I feel like you can always make room for, kind of like dessert. There were so many reasons why this bread was extremely pleasing, but being the cook, one of the best parts was how simple it was to make.

Bread is not really my wheelhouse, so I usually look for recipes to follow when working on a dough-based project. I scoured the internet for what looked like the best flatbread recipes, and ended up choosing Kenji's, from Serious Eats. I feel like I always default to him, but there was really just one difference between his recipe and others&mdashthe use of yogurt or milk instead of water. He noted this difference is important to both help add flavor and aid in browning, so I rolled with his recipe with pretty good assurance it would turn out great.

After kneading the dough in the KitchenAid for five minutes, I turned it out on a floured surface and gave it a few final kneads to create a smooth ball. I then let it rest in a covered bowl until it roughly doubled in size, which took about two hours. It seemed like the rising only really took off in the last 30 minutes or so, so if you're like me and worried something is wrong when it's not getting bigger very quickly, just be patient.

After the first rise, I cut the dough into nine equal pieces (I made a recipe and half to feed my large crowd). Then I placed each small ball on a baking sheet and covered them with a damp kitchen towel until they doubled in size, which took another two hours.

While the dough is rising is a good time to get your za'atar ready. I personally have never found this Middle Eastern thyme-based spice mix hard to find, so always buy it pre-mixed, which saves some time and money. If you can't find za'atar around you, don't fret, it's easy to make&mdashyou just need to combine three tablespoons of dried thyme with a tablespoon of toasted sesame seeds, a tablespoon of sumac, and a teaspoon of kosher salt.

After the dough was just about finished rising, I got the grill ready, wanting a really fresh, hot fire for optimal bread baking. Once the coals were lit and dumped out, I went back inside and rolled out each piece of dough into a roughly eight-inch circle. I then took the plate stacked with dough discs outside and started grilling, which was a very quick proposition.

I was looking to develop good browned and spotty charring all over, which took about minute or two per side. When grilling the first side, some large air bubbles sometimes formed, which I popped with a knife.

Once done, I transferred the bread to the cool side of a two-zone fire, brushed with olive oil and seasoned generously with za'atar.

I did a stint studying abroad in Israel and became hooked on za'atar bread while there. I now order it almost anytime I see it on a menu somewhere, but nothing can really compare to how good this stuff is when cooked fresh at home. A large attraction was the pipping hot flatbread that was both crispy and chewy, with a nice tang thanks to the yogurt I used to make it with. The za'atar played a big roll, of course, embedding each bite with a great herbal and lemony flavor that was really addictive. It got even better when contrasted with some cool and tangy labneh&mdashbasically strained Greek yogurt. It was a super impressive, super satisfying treat for my guests and myself, and really, it was probably the easiest recipe I made that day.


MAN'OUSHE, ZA'ATAR FLATBREAD RECIPE

The success of this bread is made that much greater if a baking stone is used in the base of the oven. Alternately, an overturned heavy sheet pan will work. A pizza peel is also particularly helpful for placing the flatbread dough in the oven and removing the bread when it’s finished. A flat sheet pan or an overturned rimmed sheet pan will work as well. The dough can be made, of course, by hand, but I found the dough dramatically more beautiful, softer and stickier (which like pizza dough, is better for flatbread) made in the food processor fitted with the metal blade. This recipe is based on Barbara Abdeni Massaad’s Man’oushe. Makes 4 loaves.

PREP TIME: 3 HOURS | COOK TIME: 15 MINUTES | TOTAL TIME: 3 HOURS 15 MINUTES | RECIPE BY: MAUREEN ABOOD

2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup cake flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/4 cups cups lukewarm water (90-100 degrees)
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon neutral oil, such as canola or safflower
1/2 cup za'atar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Garnishes: tomatoes, picked turnips, mint, arugula, labneh, etc.

In a large bowl or the bowl of a food processor, combine the flours and salt. Whisk together if making by hand pulse a few times if using the processor.

Proof the yeast in a small bowl. Mix the yeast and sugar together, then slowly add ¼ cup of the lukewarm water while stirring to combine. Set aside for about 10 minutes until the yeast is foamy.

Add the yeast mixture and the tablespoon of oil to the flour mixture. Mixing by hand, or with the food processor running, slowly pour in the remaining cup of warm water. Mix until combined and knead, if by hand, for 10 minutes until the dough is soft and elastic. If using the processor, run for a full minute after the water is added. The dough will form a ball and turn in the bowl as the machine runs.

Set the dough to rise by placing the dough in a bowl that is completely but lightly oiled, and turn the dough so it is entirely coated with oil too. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and then a kitchen towel and place in a warm spot (I put it in the turned-off oven that’s been just barely warmed) until doubled in size, 1½-2 hours.

Deflate the dough by removing it from the bowl and pulling off four evenly sized balls of dough. Set the balls on a lightly floured surface and coat lightly with more flour. Cover with the plastic wrap and kitchen towel and rise for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven. Place the baking stone or overturned sheet pan (it’s overturned so the edges won’t get in the way of placing and removing the dough) in the bottom of the oven. Remove the racks or line them at the top of the oven. Heat the oven to 400 degrees for 20-30 minutes. Convection baking is ideal here, if possible. If you’re using convection, set the oven temperature to 425 degrees.

In a small bowl, combine the za’atar and the oil, stirring well. Set aside.

Roll out the dough: lightly flour the work surface, the rolling pin, and the peel (or another overturned sheet pan to be used as a peel like a huge spatula). The flour acts as ball bearings for the dough to keep it from sticking to surfaces. Place one ball of dough on the floured surface and press down on it with the palm of your hand. The key to getting the dough rolled flat and round is to keep it moving, which means turning it frequently throughout the rolling process and adding more flour lightly to the work surface as you go. Roll the dough from the center of the circle to the edge a couple of times, then rotate it, and roll again, repeating until the dough is round and ¼ -inch thick.

Spread 3 teaspoons of the za’atar mixture on the dough using the back of the spoon or your fingertips to get an even, thick spread. Leave a ½ -inch rim around the edge. Slide the peel under the dough, using two hands (to avoid misshaping the round) to pull the dough onto the floured peel. Place on the baking stone in the oven and bake for 7-10 minutes.

You’ll want to keep the oven light on to watch the bubbling baking show.

When the bread is golden brown at the edges, remove from the oven to a baking rack and cool for a few minutes. The za’atar topping may seem oily when it’s still hot but it will dry and taste just right. Repeat the process with each of the four balls of dough.

Eat the man’oushe as it is, torn off and eaten with the garnishes. Or top the bread with garnishes, fold over, and eat it like that.


Ingredients

  • For the Flatbread (see note):
  • 10 ounces (about 2 cups) bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 1/2 ounces (about 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon) yogurt or whole milk
  • To Serve (see note if using store-bought za'atar):
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh savory
  • 1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ground sumac (see note)
  • 2 tablespoons Diamond Crystal kosher salt
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing and drizzling
  • 3/4 cup labne (see note)

Manakish origins

The origins of manakish (also called manakeesh, manaeesh or manaquish, singular man'ousheh or manoushe, depending where you are) are a little vague. Some say it's a modern invention, but more likely, they have been around for many centuries. The ingredients are certainly not new in the region.

They are most popular these days in Lebanon, and firmly considered a core part of Lebanese cooking. It's a popular choice for breakfast, for example. You will also find the bread in other countries in the Levant region, such as Syria and Palestine, where some say it originates.

Za'atar is the most popular topping for this bread, but it's not the only one. Some use the oil and za'atar as a base or simply add other toppings instead. Common additions/ alternatives are cheese, minced lamb, spinach or chili. The lamb version is very similar to lahmacun (and in fact that name is often used).

Here I've kept with the classic za'atar - a favorite for good reason.


Za’atar Man’ouche – Flat bread with herbs

The first time I tried the za’atar man’ouche was in a Lebanese restaurant in Brussels. It was long time ago during a trip I took with my mum to Belgium, and that was the first time I tried Lebanese food.
At the time I wouldn’t have imagined that a few years after that trip I would be living in Brussels or that my future husband would have Lebanese origins… Life is full of surprises!

The za’atar man’ouche is very rich and healthy. In Lebanon many people would have it for breakfast to start the day with energy, as the za’atar would provide a boost of magnesium, iron, calcium and zinc.
It is common to serve the za’atar man’ouche accompanied with Lebanese cucumbers, olives, mint and tomatoes.

This is a very simple recipe, requiring less than 10 basic ingredients and hands on prep time is below 10 minutes + the rise + a short 7 minute bake time. Very little time required for enjoying this perfect, easy, savory, hearty and delicious Lebanese flat bread.

I hope you give this recipe a try, if so let me know! Leave a comment and rate it. I would love to know what you come up with. Enjoy!


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Za’atar Recipes

Za’atar (pronounced zah-tar) is a variety of wild thyme, "thymbra spicata", with long green leaves and thyme distinctively sharp thyme-like flavor. It is native to the Levantine Region and cannot be cultivated. It is used to make the popular Za’atar blend (of the same name, and also known as Zoubaeh), used in Levantine/ Middle Eastern cuisine, and more. The traditional Lebanese za’atar mix is made with the sun-dried za’atar herb, salt, toasted sesame seeds and sumac spice. It is a staple in the Middle Eastern pantry.

Learn more about Za'atar

Recipes

Za’atar may be one of the most versatile condiments and spices. It is a multi-purpose blend that is tangy, savory, with an after bite kick. It is perfect for adding to dips, including labne (a thick cream made from yogurt), hummus, baba gannoj, chickpeas, eggs, adding to roasted and sautéed vegetables, as a rub for chicken, meat, and fish, in salad dressings and more.

The most popular use is mixed with olive oil and as a topping for the traditional Middle Eastern baked bread, mankoushe (pronounced man-ou-sheh).

In our household, Za'atar is used on a weekly if not daily basis. Browse some of our favorite Za'atar recipes below- we will continue to review and add recipe submissions.


ZA'ATAR FLATBREAD RECIPE

This recipe is adapted from Chris Bianco’s, published in Eater for focaccia-style bread from his book Bianco: Pizza, Pasta, and Other Foods I Like (Ecco 2017). Take care not to refrigerate the dough much beyond 8 hours or it will over-proof (yes, I've done it). If needed, freeze briefly and then refrigerate to extend proof time. It’s ideal to bring the dough to room temperature before shaping, but I’ve jumped the gun and worked with cool dough and it was equally pliable and glorious as room temp. You’ll need a sheet pan and a pizza peel and long kitchen tongs. You could also use another sheet pan, overturned, as your peel but it’s not nearly as easy or fun. I use a stand mixer too you can of course knead by hand. The rice flour is perfect for coating the peel and doesn’t get cakey like wheat flour can here. Don’t be alarmed by all of the instructions below! Just read through them before it’s go time to get a feel for each step. Makes 4 flatbreads that cut into 6-8 slices each.

1 envelope active dry yeast (2¼ teaspoons)
2 cups warm water (105° to 110°F I’ve been taking the water’s temp and it comes out perfectly)
5 cups bread flour, plus more as needed and for dusting
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
3 tablespoons za'atar
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing the bowl
Rice flour, for coating the pizza peel or back of a sheet pan

Combine the yeast and warm water in a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, stirring well and allowing the yeast to become creamy and slightly bubbly (about 10 minutes).

When the yeast has dissolved, add 3 cups of the bread flour, using the paddle attachment on low speed or a wooden spoon and mixing until smooth. Slowly add the last 2 cups of flour, working it in gently on low speed or by hand. Add the salt (Bianco says it’s important to wait until now, so the yeast isn’t inhibited). Mix until the dough comes away from the bowl but is still sticky if necessary, add up to ½ cup more flour 1 tablespoon at a time (I've never needed to add more myself).

Continue to knead the dough on medium speed or by hand until it is smooth, stretchy, soft, and still tacky.

Brush a large bowl with olive oil (if it's not too doughy, I use the same bowl I mixed the dough in), shape the dough into a ball and turn it over in the bowl to coat with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough rest in a warm place until it doubles in size, 2 to 2½ hours.

Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and cut it into 4 equal pieces. Roll the pieces into balls, stretching the surface of the balls tightly, and dust them lightly with flour. Cover with plastic wrap and let them rest for another hour, or until they have doubled in size.

The dough balls can now be wrapped individually in plastic and refrigerated for up to 8 hours, or frozen for up to a month. Thaw the dough in the refrigerator, then let it come to room temperature before shaping.

When you’re ready to bake the za’atar bread, position an oven rack at the lowest point in the oven with no other racks above it. Or, remove the racks. Place an overturned sheet pan on the rack or base of the oven. Heat the oven as hot as it will go, about 550 degrees F.

In a small bowl, stir the za’atar and olive oil so that you have a wet mixture. Add more oil or za’atar as needed to keep it wet, and depending on how much you like on your flatbread.

Liberally dust the pizza peel with rice flour.

To shape the dough, hold the top edge of the ball with both hands, allowing the bottom edge to hang down with gravity. Carefully move your hands around the edges to form a circle of dough, like turning a steering wheel.

Continue to carefully shape the dough as it relaxes, without letting any area get too thin. Cup your hands and use the backs of your hands, knuckles up, to encourage the dough wider. Don’t stretch or pull too much, or the dough will get too thin or tear.

Lay the circle of dough on the pizza peel that’s been dusted with rice flour. Dab the top of the dough with za’atar and oil, then use your fingertips to stain the surface of the dough with the za’atar and oil. You can use more or less za’atar and oil here it’s up to you how thickly you spread it on.

Shake the peel to be sure the dough will move off easily. If any area is stuck, lift the dough and dust more rice flour underneath it.

Transfer the dough from the peel to the hot overturned sheet pan in the oven. Turn on the light so you can watch the show! The flatbread will bubble and the edges will “leopard” like the finest pizza in the land. Use tongs to turn the flatbread as it bakes to avoid any spot getting burned.

When the flatbread is golden brown (about 4 minutes), use the tongs to pull the flatbread back onto the peel and remove it from the oven.

Let the bread rest for a few minutes, then cut it with a round pizza cutter.