November 1, 2021
Topped Lebanese Flatbreads
Try these Topped Lebanese Flatbreads from the new cookbook, Bayrut.
What came first: pizza or manouche? Of course, we’d say manouche, and back it up with facts (real or made up, it doesn’t matter) about how it came from our region. A manouche (plural: manaeesh) is a round flatbread, traditionally topped with za’atar or white cheese. The name comes from the Arabic na’esh, which means ‘to engrave’, as you punch your fingers into the dough to prevent it puffing up into pita bread.
It really is the king of breakfasts. Many is the time I grab a za’atar manouche wrapped around some fresh veggies from the local baker on my way to work. On other, slower, days, we’ll have a dozen with mixed toppings for a home breakfast served with green olives, pickles, fresh mint, tomatoes, cucumbers and a warm cup of tea flavored with rose geranium leaves.
This recipe makes soft, round manouche, but you can roll the dough thinner for a crispier version, although you’ll need more topping.
Yield: Makes 6
- In a large bowl, combine the flour with the salt, sugar and yeast. Make a well in the middle, add the water and olive oil and mix with a wooden spoon or your hands. Knead until the dough comes together away from the sides of the bowl. Coat the ball of dough with a little oil, cover the bowl with a dish towel and leave to prove in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in size.
- Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F/gas 6) and place a baking sheet in the oven to heat up.
- Punch down the risen dough and and turn out onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide into 6 pieces and shape each piece into a ball by pinching the sides down and rolling in the palm of one hand against the work surface. Cover again and let rest for 10 minutes. Lightly flour the surface and rolling pin, then roll the dough balls into circles 8–10 mm (3⁄4 in) thick. Cover and leave to rest for a further 10 minutes.
- Poke the rounds with a fork or dimple with your fingers to prevent them from puffing up, then top each with your favourite topping (see page 49). Bake on the hot baking sheet for about 8 minutes (or as stated, depending on the topping) until the dough is lightly browned and the toppings are cooked through. Serve warm.
Food photography © Liz and Max Haarala Hamilton.
Bayrut: The Cookbook, by Hisham Asaad, published by Smith Street Books.