The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

tunisian flatbread

varda's picture

tunisian flatbread

I was browsing through some recent posts and came upon this link in a comment.   So this afternoon I made the tunisian flatbread.   This was very simple to put together, but the instructions were pretty sparse, and when it came time to transfer the flats to the oven, nothing I tried worked.   The dough was so sticky that it just got all tangled up and folded over and so forth.   I managed as best I could and baked the rounds.    Mmmm.   Delicious.   But a total mess.   Part of the problem may be the dough is just too sticky with 1/2 cup oil for 400 g flour, and perhaps next time I will reduce the amount of oil.   But those Tunisian bakers must have a strategy for moving from counter to oven?   Any ideas out there?    Here are the instructions with my modifications: 

Mix 200g white flour (I used King Arthur AP) 200g semolina, 2 tsp instant yeast, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 cup olive oil, 1 cup water.   Mix for 10 minutes (I had no idea why this should be mixed so long - so I did 4 minutes).   Let rise 1 hour.  Shape into two large flat rounds, and brush with egg yolk.   Let rise for 1/2 hour.   Bake at 200 d C (I did 450 d F which is higher but it just seemed right to go hotter.  I used a preheated stone.)   I know I modified a bit, but I don't think that had any bearing on getting the rounds into the oven. 

Thanks!  -Varda

curvesarein's picture

My WW dough is sticky but I oil the surface and my hands to manage it.

varda's picture

Well yes, that might help.   But this dough has more the consistency of a half-cooked pancake, so even oiling your hands wouldn't work.   And the rounds are almost a foot in diameter so I don't have a spatula that is big enough to move them.   I guess the obvious answer is to place the shaped rounds on a cookie sheet for the final rise, but I thought maybe there might be a Tunisian baker or two out there with the real skinny.  Thanks -Varda

Postal Grunt's picture
Postal Grunt

Other people have posted about using parchment paper for proofing. Perhaps using a little bit more of the semolina on the paper and under the round might help. Use your cookie sheet as a peel to transfer the paper and round onto the baking stone. I've done that with pizza so a flat bread is doable.

curvesarein's picture

Love the stuff, that might work. Kept my cinnamon rolls from burning this week.

varda's picture

Doh!   Yes, parchment paper.   Cookie sheet as peel.  Thanks so much.   -Varda

mrfrost's picture

Chances are, the people(residents of Tunisia, etc) that actually make this bread "knead" in more flour during the 10 minute kneading process to achieve a desired and known final dough consistency, which is not described here.

If the final dough ends up being on the sticky side(which I maintain we don't really know), even more flour would be used to roll them out. Then there's the matter of the end handling and baking methods.

So not exactly a recipe for those totally unfamiliar for baking this style bread. Although quite possible, I doubt the Tunisians really need any parchment paper to make this bread, but we really don't know.

varda's picture

And apparently authentic Tunisian flatbread bakers do not frequent this site.   Too bad!    -Varda

Crider's picture

I recall from my Youtube 'travels' that Tunisia is a popular tourist destination for the French, so I searched for "pain tunis" and was lucky to find a vid for "Pain Tunisien à l'huile d'olive."

There's also an accompanying blog post on the author's foodie blog. They used milk in their recipe:

* 500g de farine (flour)
* 1 oeuf (egg)
* 1 sachet de levure boulangère instantanée (instant yeast)
* 125ml d'huile d'olive (olive oil)
* 250ml de lait tiède (scalded(?) milk)
* mélange de graines pour le pain (nigelle, fenouil, sésame) (seeds for flavor)
* sel, 1 jaune d'oeuf pour la dorure (salt)

mrfrost's picture

de lait tiède: Actually just "warm milk".

Usually never hurts to scald first though, (then cool). 

I imagine that dough has about the consistency the op is looking for.

Tunisian bread in olive oil 

 Hello everyone, this bread recipe is simply delicious. This is a soft bread to taste olive oil. A delicacy prepared by my grandmother and aunt Fatma (who gave me her recipe). 

 To prepare, you will need: 
* 500g flour 
* 1 egg 
* 1 packet of instant yeast 
* 125ml olive oil 
* 250ml warm milk 
* Seed mix for bread (black cumin, fennel, sesame) 
* Salt, 1 egg yolk for gilding 

Place flour, egg, yeast, oil, milk, 1 tsp salt and 2 tsp mixed seeds in the bowl or the bowl and knead.

Oil the dough and the walls of the container and let rise until dough doubles in volume. 
Preheat oven to 180 ° C. 

 Once the dough rise, the degas and form two rolls of medium size.
Arrange on baking sheet lined with parchment paper. 

Brown both loaves with egg yolk diluted in a tablespoon of warm water. Garnish with seeds. 
Bake for 40 minutes. 
The loaves should be golden brown and puffy!  
Cool and wrap in cellophane! It freezes very well!  

This bread is delicious hot with some butter! Or to accompany a good tagine! A bientôt. See you soon. "

pmccool's picture

If it is baked in a tandoor or similar style oven, the round would be slapped against the oven wall, where it would bake until done.  I watched a baker in Kuwait who did something similar and the dough was soft enough that it went in as ball and stretched out to a nearly flat oval before crusting over enough to stop further movement.  It stayed put until he reached in with a small hook and detached it from the oven wall.


varda's picture

Someone thinks to look up pain tunis instead of tunisian bread, someone else translates.   Note that the original post on freshloaf

referred to tunisian bread being made in a clay taboona oven.   Here is a picture of one being made.  Apparently you make the fire inside and cook the bread on the outside surface.   It seems to be similar to a tandoor except that in a tandoor you cook on the inside surface.