I purchased this beautifully hand-painted blue and white platter in Casablanca. It’s one of my favorites!
I truly enjoy making different kinds of bread! It amazes me how something so comforting and delicious comes out of playing around with some flour, salt and sugar etc. It also amazes me how many different types of bread there are in the world. One of my favorite memories took place in India on New Year’s Eve years ago, where we saw men (fearless men!) slapping Naan onto the sides of a tandoor oven with their bare hands.
And, on a visit to Cairo, we saw women sitting on the ground cooking bread on large, flat stones. That bread was, like Naan, a flat-bread but with a whole different – and wonderful – taste.
++ Curious about ‘Breads of the World’ – here’s a great site! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_breads
Interestingly enough, bread in Malta is called ‘Hobz’ (Ħobż Malti). Ħobż Malti is dense, heavy bread which makes wonderful sandwiches. Malta was ruled by Arabs for quite a long time, and the Maltese language contains many words derived from (or exactly the same as) Arabic. So, it’s not too surprising that the Arabic word for bread is ‘Khobz’ and the Maltese word is Hobz.
When we lived in Malta I wrote a small book about the country’s long and varied history. And let me tell you, Malta’s history, including rule by the Knights of St. John (better known today as The Knights of Malta) is fascinating!
One of the best sandwiches I’ve ever eaten is called Hobz Biz-zejt. There are times when The Whole Equals More Than the Sum of It’s Parts and this is sure one of those times!! Hobz Biz-zejt can be recreated with another type of crusty bread, but it just won’t be quite the same… Here’s a link if you’d like to make these sandwiches at home. (I just started following this blog!)
I know you’re going to enjoy Khobz. It’s easy to make. The recipe makes two loaves. And – best of all – Khobz only needs one rising.
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INGREDIENTS Oven at 435F Bake for 20 minutes ++ Switch position of baking sheets after first 10 minutes
- 4 cups flour
- 2 tsp. salt
- 2 tsp. sugar
- 1 Tbs. yeast
- 2 Tbs. olive oil
- 1 1/4 cups warm water ++ Water should feel warmer than your skin. Try pouring a bit on your wrist to check. If the water’s too cold – or too hot – the yeast won’t work properly and the bread won’t rise.
- olive oil – – to spread on baking sheets – and – to drizzle on bread both before and after baking
Prepare 2 baking sheets by pouring 1/2 tsp. olive oil in the center of each baking sheet. Spread oil, using fingers, to make a 5″ – 6″ circle . ++ You can skip the olive oil and use cornmeal…. but, to me, cornmeal doesn’t seem very authentic. Place 4 cups flour, 2 tsp. salt and 2 tsp. sugar in a large bowl. Stir to combine.
Make a well in the center. Place 1 Tbs. yeast in the center. Gently pour 2 Tbs. olive oil and 1 1/4 cups warm water into the well and mix together to dissolve yeast. Then mix entire contents of bowl until flour mixture has been incorporated.
++ It may seem, at first, like you’ll never be able to get all the flour incorporated – just work at it a bit and it’ll all come together!
Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Knead dough for 10 minutes, adding a bit more flour if necessary. After kneading for 10 minutes dough should be soft and pliable. ++ Here’s an excellent link to learn how to knead bread – http://bread.wonderhowto.com/how-to/knead-bread-dough-by-hand-355638/ After dough is kneaded, form into a ball.
Divide dough into halves. .
Shape each portion into a smooth, circular mound.
Place dough onto prepared baking sheets. Cover with towels. Allow to rest for 10 minutes.
After 10 minutes, flatten dough using the palm your hand to form two – 7″ circles.
Once again, cover dough with towels. Allow dough to rise for an hour – or until dough springs back when pressed lightly with a finger.
After dough has risen, poke here and there with a fork. Drizzle on a bit of olive oil and spread with your fingers (which is what I do) or use a spoon.
++ Raise bottom oven rack up one level Bake bread at 435F for 20 minutes – – rotating baking sheets halfway through cooking time (at the 10 minute mark). Loaves should be browned and sound hollow when tapped. ++ Don’t be afraid to take bread out a minute or two early – oven temperatures can vary widely.
Remove loaves from baking sheets and allow to cool on wire racks. At this point I like to drizzle on more olive oil and spread it over the crust – because I think it makes most-any bread look better. Enjoy !!
‘Moroccan Chicken Tagine with Sweet Potatoes’
And, to complete your meal, how about ‘Couscous with Raisins and Pine Nuts’