The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Tunisian Flatbread

varda's picture
varda

Tunisian Flatbread

Awhile ago, I tried making Tunisian Flatbread from a sketchy set of instructions, and while the result was delicious it was also a total mess.  I got some extremely helpful comments in the forum, and decided to try again.   This is a lot prettier than last time.   And certainly a quick and easy bread to make if you haven't gotten around to planning the day before.   The loaves are a bit less than 8 inches in diameter and over an inch tall.   I'll serve with lamb this evening for dinner.


 


250g semolina flour


250g bread flour (I used King Arthur All Purpose)


1 tsp salt


2 tsp instant yeast


250 ml warm water


125 ml olive oil


egg yolk for glazing


sesame seeds


Mix flour, water, salt, olive oil, yeast until dough adheres and cleans the bowl - two to four minutes in a stand up mixer at high speed with a dough hook.   Let rise for around an hour until double.   Preheat oven to 400 deg F.  (Around 200 deg C)  Divide and shape into two disks on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper.   Brush with egg yolk.   Sprinkle with sesame seeds.    Bake for 40 minutes.   (I turned down oven to 300 after 25 minutes.)    Other version of this type of bread used all white flour, milk instead of water, and an egg thrown in, but I wanted to try to preserve as much of the taste of my last try before moving on to other variations. 

Comments

wally's picture
wally

Varda- Only suggestion I would offer is to 'dock' your dough before baking.  You can either buy a dough docker or else use the tines on a fork to poke holes in the dough (much as you would pie dough before baking).  The object with flatbread is to not get too much rise, and I would say that 1 inch in height is probably too more than you want.


Good luck,


Larry

varda's picture
varda

Larry, thanks for your comment.   I guess I'm not entirely sure how flat, flat is supposed to be.   Of the two pictures I've seen of what purport to be authentic renditions one was around an inch tall and the other around 3 inches - which really didn't seem like it qualified.   As far as I understand it this type of bread is traditionally slapped against the outside surface of a domed clay oven with a fire going inside, which is hardly the environment that I'm cooking in.   Anyhow, I'd love for the Tunisians on this list to pipe up, but I'm not sure there are any.   -Varda

GSnyde's picture
GSnyde

Varda, this bread looks very much like the sandwich rolls the Fresno Armenians call "peda bread" (not pita).  It was served in Armenian restaurants and bakeries.  Ideal for a shish kebab sandwich.  Looks yummy!  I plan to try this formula. Thanks.


Glenn

varda's picture
varda

Interesting.   I did a search on peda.   Google kept pushing me to pita, but there are a couple articles that come up.   Similar ingredients - biggest difference seems to be shortening instead of olive oil.   I don't know where Armenia's boundaries were in the old days, but assuming they got close to the Mediterranean (now Turkey and Syria are in the way) it makes sense for them to have similar cuisine.   Anyhow, thanks for your comments, and I hope you enjoy the bread.   I added a smidge (not sure if that's a technical term) more water during mixing and also placed the baking sheet on top of a preheated stone in the oven so the bottom wouldn't get overcooked.   Altogether very tasty on an absolute scale, but quite fantastic given the minimal effort that goes into it.   Those (illusory) Tunisians really know what they're doing.

Crider's picture
Crider

I hope to try this myself soon!

varda's picture
varda

Let me know how it goes.   -Varda

breadmantalking's picture
breadmantalking

In Israel we make a very similar bread which is brushed with olive oil as it comes out of the oven then sprinkled with za'atar, hyssop in English. You could easily find it in a Middle Eastern grocery or use oregano or thyme instead. Delicious.


David

varda's picture
varda

Hi,  So just to be clear, bake unglazed and then brush with oil?   I think I know a place I can get za'atar.   So I will try this.   Does this bread have a name?   Also, re the discussion above, does it dome up, or is it pricked before baking to keep it flat?   Thanks a lot! -Varda

breadmantalking's picture
breadmantalking

This bread or something like it can be found all over the Middle East. It is almost always brushed with olive oil and then some kind of herb. In Israel it is invariably za'atar but can be any crushed aromatic herb. By pricking the dough before baking you can minimize the puffing. You could even 'break the bubble' during the baking with a fork! This is more like a flat round bread unlike a pita which has a pocket.


David at:  breadmantalking.blogspot.com

varda's picture
varda

Ok then.   I will try to pick up za'atar next time I'm in the right part of the world - that is Watertown, Massachusetts, not Israel.   Thanks!  -Varda

varda's picture
varda

I just made this bread with Zatar as suggested above.   I tried docking with a fork to keep it from puffing up but it puffed up just as much anyhow.  I'm going to have to leave the house because it smells so good and it has to wait until dinner.  


mrfrost's picture
mrfrost

There is probably no one, single, authentic recipe, and appearance. There appear to be many styles and forms.


Oddly, one of them looks just like varda.


Google image search for Tunisian bread:


http://www.google.com/images?hl=en&expIds=17259,18168,23756,24692,24878,24879,27400&sugexp=ldymls&xhr=t&q=tunisian+bread&cp=14&qe=dHVuaXNpYW4gYnJlYWQ&qesig=3qpKPMb6N9Lr8n0ArazD2g&pkc=AFgZ2tnPhIjUm_F6PZkPROQeC9SN4vQr-kwrxplKm6urhtsD1dJxwnx9Ne2JtEzV2PI4pPE8gaiTQkxrZ5bTtB9qtYvU8-aRsg&um=1&ie=UTF-8&source=univ&ei=jn8JTeOrBoP88AalpJGfAQ&sa=X&oi=image_result_group&ct=title&resnum=1&sqi=2&ved=0CCkQsAQwAA&biw=1680&bih=829


There are also many recipes to be found in a search. Many quite similar to the one in your original query on the matter. Again, I think all you needed was to add flour to reach a manageable consistency. There are also quite a few videos "out there", and all of them show doughs that are quite manageable(although there's sure to be some sticky ones too).


 

varda's picture
varda

I thought you meant "one of them looks just like varda's"  but no, you actually meant "one of them looks just like varda."   Curiouser and curiouser. 

breadmantalking's picture
breadmantalking

really makes a difference!


 


David

varda's picture
varda

David,   Thanks so much for this suggestion.   The bread was good with the egg yolk  and sesame glaze, but just fantastic with za'atar and olive oil.    We had it last night for dinner with hummus and Israeli salad (at least that's what Americans call it.)  What a treat.  -Varda

Mary Fisher's picture
Mary Fisher

I made it yesterday and we had it with a spiced lamb dish and salad. It did taste good but it was far too rich, we felt, to be called 'bread', it was almost like a lean pastry. There's an awful lot of oil in the recipe.

varda's picture
varda

When I served it a few nights ago, my husband got up from the table and got the olive oil and poured a puddle on his plate and dipped the bread in that.   Then later he said, that was good but you should put more oil in it.   I begged to differ.   You could see what happened if you put in less oil - probably would want to increase the water at the same time.   -Varda

katyajini's picture
katyajini

I would love to try to make this as it seems so easy.  I have never bought or used semolina flour.  Would you please reccomend what you use? Thank you so much!  Katyajini

varda's picture
varda

For this batch I used Bob's Red Mill semolina.   I used to get something else -pretty sure  it was Hodgson's Mill, but I haven't seen that in the store for months.  Both of them are good.  This bread is incredibly easy and very quick from beginning to end.   Let me know if you give it a try.   -Varda

katyajini's picture
katyajini

Thank you Varda.  Will do it this weekend.  One more question.  Is semolina flour just a finer grind of semolina or farina?  Thanks again.  Katyajini

varda's picture
varda

Not an expert on this but semolina flour is a relatively coarse flour made from durum wheat.   The Bob's Red Mill package says that it is for pasta.   Durum flour, which is a finer consistency, is considered more appropriate for breadmaking.   Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find it lately.  Nevertheless I like how this bread came out using the semolina.  Good luck.   -Varda

lynnebiz's picture
lynnebiz

Varda, we live basically in the same part of the world - have you tried Joe Pace's for the durum flour? I get my semolina there, (the one in the North End), and I think I've seen it there. My memory isn't the greatest, so I would give them a call to make sure. Semolina is used for certain types of Italian breads, though. If you do feel like making the treck to the North End, I'd also call Bova & see if they have any they'd sell to you. Or any other Italian bakery that specializes in bread. Worth a try..


Your Tunisian flatbreads look wonderful, btw. I've didn't know what the herbs were on the flatbreads I've seen sold here (no English translations on the packages) - now I think it might be za'atar, as it looks very similar to your second photo. I'm going to give this a try when I get a chance.


I've purchased the long, retangular flatbreads and heated them up with feta cheese, spinach, olives & olive oil - delish! Of course, I bought all of those right here in Watertown - simple food fit for a king! Just moved here a few months ago & I feel like I'm in foodie paradise, lol.

varda's picture
varda

I got the za'atar in Watertown at Sofra's.   Have you been there?   It has a shelf full of spice mixtures from various remote locations but so far, za'atar is the only one I've tried.   I don't get down to the North End much lately.   I used to work fairly near there but no longer.   But next time I'm there I could look for the durum flour.   I also used to work in Watertown and never ate better at lunch time.  I miss it.  -Varda

lynnebiz's picture
lynnebiz

I know what you mean about not getting into the North End. My rheumotologist is near there, so if I'm feeling good, I try to visit. For a few years I lived on the North Shore & it took forever to get into the Boston or Cambridge area - I'm hoping to make up for lost time. :D


I haven't been to Sofra's yet - I heard the homemade Greek yogurt is to die for. I've been shopping at Arax's. You can smell the spices before you even go in the door - and the olives are the best I've ever had. Had some filled cookies (dried fruits) that were similar to what my mom used to make (Sicilian). Further down towards the square, on the same street, there's an Iranian bakery - had a couple of their walnut macaroons. Could eat a pound, easily, but my hips (and my pocketbook) can't handle that, haha.


The winter kept me in (I fell a couple of times on the ice, like I needed that). Now that the weather is better, I hope to explore the area more. Have a knee injury that's been flaring up lately (that and getting old, I think, lol) - I'm hoping it will pass so I can get walking again.

Jessica Weissman's picture
Jessica Weissman

The pasta flour from Hodgson Mill is in lots of grocery stores, and falls between fine semolina and durum flour.  The bag claims it is a mix of the two.


I've used it in breads when out of the hard-to-find durum flour with pretty good results.


In the Washington DC area you can find it in many Giant stores, tucked into the baking area next to other Hodgson Mill stuff.

varda's picture
varda

I went to my regular grocery store today and looked and sure enough there was the Hodgson's Mill durum flour/semolina, which I swear I haven't seen in months.   Or haven't looked?   Who knows.   Anyhow, thanks for the reminder.  -Varda

katyajini's picture
katyajini

OK, I got Red Mills semolina and made this on Saturday.  It turned out like a shortbread cracker! and was absolutely delicious.  There was just about no rise in the bread in oven after shaping into disks but the dough did rise to double or greated volume on resting.  I have no idea what went wrong.  I was actually VERY sceptical that I did not have to knead the dough or let it rise briefly after shaping into flat breads.  Later I looked at your previous post and you had kneaded the dough for 4mins and then there was a second rise after shaping.  Maybe I just didn't get the directions.  Nevertheless I taste the potential and will try again very soon.


 


Thank you for introducing me to this recipe. 


 


Katyajini

varda's picture
varda

When I came back to this after my first failed attempt, I was following the baking instructions in the video in the post by crider and so kindly translated by Mr. Frost.  http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/20880/tunisian-flatbread#comment-145545


That has no second rise after shaping.    But I don't think this would be the issue of a too flat result.   Did you press it down very thin?  (I didn't, mainly because the dough fights back.)  Is your yeast ok?   Could it have risen too much on the first round?   On my last bake of this I followed the instructions at the top of this post plus docking minus egg glaze and ended up with the opposite problem which is it puffed up too much for a flatbread - docking or no docking.   Glad you tried it.   Hope you will get the result you want next time.   -Varda

mrfrost's picture
mrfrost

I suspect Katyajini's dough/gluten was not sufficiently developed.


In this case "mix" = knead. This is pretty much confirmed when you said yours "fights back". Sounds like decent development, at least.

varda's picture
varda

I tend to use the word "mix" when I'm using a "mixer" rather than kneading on the countertop.  I used the dough hook which is supposedly equivalent to kneading.   I didn't look at the time - just let it knock around in the mixer until it adhered enough - probably between 2 and 4 minutes at increasing speed up to the highest on a Kitchenaid.   So more kneading would be the thing to try to get a better rise in the oven.  -Varda

katyajini's picture
katyajini

 

Well I made the bread again late last night.  Begeeezes!    When I read the instructions at the top ‘mix until dough adheres in a rough ball’ I understood that one should work NOT to develop gluten and that’s what I did on my first try.  Did not imagine that meant mix for 4mins in a mixer:)  I do say that in a funny way.  Last night I did knead for a while even though I accidently spilled at least 1/3 cup more water into the dough (it was late) and the dough was extremely wet.   I made into discs at least 10” diameter and baked after 15mins.   Even the larger, flatter, wetter, discs rose an inch.

I loved it.   Yes, it is a very luscious bread with the oil in it and more brushed on top.  I like brioche too.

I would love to serve it in summer with fresh cheeses and vegetables, kind of like an antipasti meal.  Or just to snack on, toasted or not.

To my mind it would be easy to make it with a little less oil especially for a rich meal with lamb.

Thank you Varda.

 

Katyajini

varda's picture
varda

And I thought I was being virtuous by avoiding learning how to make brioche.   Oh well.  Illusions die hard.   You convinced me - I went back and modified the post so that someone else won't end up with crackers.  Glad you enjoyed it.  -Varda