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Moroccan bread with Zahtar

Moroccan bread with Zahtar

Nothing beats the smell of freshly baked bread wafting from the kitchen, and these versatile little loaves make a great served alongside a tagine, and are essential with a selection of mezze starters or dipped in olive oil and dukkah.
The zahtar on top, adds a fragrant herby edge which I think is a definite plus, but if you prefer, finish with sesame seeds or fennel seeds for a more traditional flavour.

1 tbsp dried yeast
1 tsp sugar
230ml warm water
1/2 tsp salt
380g plain flour
6 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
4 tbsp zahtar

1.  Whisk the yeast and sugar into the warm water in a large mixing bowl.  Let the mixture sit for about 5 minutes -- it should begin to look bubbly.

2.  Mix in the salt and flour and add the yeast and water mix.  Mix to form a stiff dough.  Add more flour if the dough is very sticky, or more water if it is very dry.

3.  Turn out on to a floured surface and knead it for five to eight minutes, until it feels smooth.  Knead by pressing the dough with the heels of your hands, then rotate the dough, fold it over on itself and repeat.  Or mix with a dough hook on your mixer for about 6 minutes.

4.  Cover the bowl loosely with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap and let the dough rise for about an hour, or until it has doubled in size.

5.  Turn the raised dough onto a floured surface and divide it into four pieces rolling each piece out with a rolling pin until it is about 2cm thick.  Or flatten with your hand to an oval about 2cm thick.

6.  Preheat your oven to 230C or 210C fan.  Rub two large baking sheets with oil and put them in the oven to heat.

7.  Brush the top of each flatbread with olive oil.

8.  Mix the zahtar into the rest of the olive oil.  Spread some of this mixture over the tops of the flatbreads.  Or scatter some fennel seeds over the top for a more traditional Moroccan taste.

9.  Remove the baking sheets from the oven and place the flatbread rounds on the baking sheet.  Return them to the oven and bake for 10 to 12 minutes.

10.  Transfer the flatbread to wire racks to cool.  Eat with any left over zahtar and oil.

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