I don’t do much of the baking around the house. As luck would have it, my marriage came complete with a highly capable baker. Definitely a lucky deal for me. Anyway, Brinn typically handles this side of the kitchen labor with much more competence than I could muster, whacking out loaves of sourdough, biscuits, cookies, brownies, and flat breads such as this one.
This flat bread (or relatively flat bread) is perfect for many of more highly seasoned dishes that we cook. It is somewhat moist, sturdy enough to use as an eating utensil without being chewy, and quick to make. The semolina in the dough gives it a toasty flavor and the milk used in the dough serves to lighten the loaves and smooth out the texture of the crumb. Her version of this recipe was inspired by one presented in Paula Wolfert’s book, The Food of Morocco and follows it reasonably closely. As noted above, she substitutes milk for the water to alter the texture and also uses some preparation techniques that vary slightly from those described in the original recipe.
A piece of equipment that is really handy if you are going to be making a lot of hand-formed loaves as part of your household cooking is a baking stone. The thick clay of the baking stone, once heated, radiates heat much more uniformly than a plain oven can, resulting in superior texture in both crust and crumb. If you can afford to get one, great. If not, the same effect can be had by using onglazed tiles; you place the tiles on the rack of your choice and bake right on top. Just remember to leave your oven plenty of time to pre heat.
Instead of using a food processor to mix this recipe, Brinn uses a stand mixer to do most of the initial mixing, but this bread is very doable just using your hands. There is not much call for extended kneading using a dough hook; you simply need the dough to be smooth. It will be slightly sticky when you turn it out on to the counter to hand knead it. Simply knead the dough until it is elastic to the touch. When you are happy with it, make sure you let the dough rest under a towel for about 15 minutes prior to forming your loaves.
Forming the loaves is straightforward. Simply divide the dough into 4 to 6 inch rounds, flatten them slightly and place them on a lightly oiled baking sheet. It is helpful to also lightly oil the rounds. Cover and place in a warm place to rise about 45 minutes. To bake, transfer them to the preheated oven and bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes.
Because of its simplicity, its good flavor, and pleasing texture, this bread has become pretty standard far in our home. Give it a try and see if it is a fit to your cooking style.
- 2½ cups semolina
- 1 cup unbleached flour
- 1¾ cups lukewarm milk
- 1½ tsp. yeast
- 2 tsp. brown sugar
- 1½ tsp. salt
- 1 Tbs. olive oil
- Combine the semolina, flour, yeast, salt, and sugar in a stand mixer, and while running, slowly add the milk followed by the olive oil. Mix until combined.
- Turn out onto a lightly floured counter and kneed until smooth and elastic, adding flour as necessary. Shape into a ball, cover and let rest at room temperature for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Punch down and divide into 4 to 5 equal parts. Form into rounds that are about 4 to 6 inches in diameter. Very lightly oil the loaves and place them on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Cover and let rise in a warm area of about 45 minutes to an hour, depending on temperature.
- Preheat an oven fitted with a baking stone to 400 degrees F.
- Transfer the loaves from baking sheet onto baking stone, close oven and bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove and cool slightly before serving.