Copyright 2002 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved. Originally printed February 28, 2002. For more information go to www.wineloverspage.com.
This is a quick yeast bread from a seemingly unlikely ethnic cuisine in an unexpected location: Madhur Jaffrey's new "World Vegetarian" (a recent addition to my library that I've been using a lot lately) offers a recipe for a remarkably tasty yeast flatbread from Morocco. Reduced and slightly modified to make a generous loaf for two, it's a fluffy white bread with a crispy crust, laced with sweet sesame and aromatic fennel seeds, that doesn't need much more than 1 hour from start to finish.
2 tsps dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 3/4 cups unbleached flour
1 tsp sea salt
1 1/2 tsps sesame seeds
1 1/2 tsps fennel seeds
Put 1/4 cup warm water into a warmed measuring cup and stir in the sugar; sprinkle on the yeast and stir with a fork until it's dissolved. Set aside for about five minutes until it's bubbly. Meanwhile put the flour in a mixing bowl and stir in the salt, sesame seeds and fennel seeds. Make a hole in the middle of the flour and, when the yeast mixture is bubbly, pour it in. Stir while adding additional warm water, a little at a time, until the flour becomes a rough dough. It shouldn't take much more than another 1/2 cup of water. Put the dough ball on a floured counter top or wooden surface and knead, flattening it and folding it and adding small amounts of extra flour if necessary, for 5 or 10 minutes or until it makes a smooth ball.
Then pour a little peanut oil on a smooth surface (I used the counter top) and roll the dough ball around on it, flattening it gently into a flattened circle about 1/2 inch thick - much like a pizza. Gently lift this round onto a baking sheet lightly dusted with corn meal. Using a sharp knife, gently score the top with light cuts about 1/2 inch apart, making a criss-cross pattern like a checker board. Cover the dough with a soft cloth and leave to rise in a warm place for about 30 minutes, while pre-heating your oven to 400F.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until it's a dark golden brown and makes a hollow sound when you tap it. Remove from the oven, let it cool a little, break or cut it into wedges and serve warm.
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