The Bread Baking Babes celebrated their 6th Anniversary by travelling (virtually) to Morocco to learn a new layering technique.
Lien of (Notitie van Lien) chose Rgaïf (aka Rghaif), a Moroccan flatbread/pancake, as the challenge this month. This flatbread is also known by other names depending on how the dough is folded before it is baked.
This version of Rgaïf is referred to as Msemen. You shape the dough into a ball, flatten it, then stretch it out paper thin (yes I said paper thin without tearing it, mind you), and fold it into a square. Then you fry it in a hot pan to form a layered flatbread that is crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside.
The part about stretching it out as thin as paper, had me a bit nervous. After reading and rereading the instructions, I still wasn’t clear what the final texture/thickness was supposed to look like. I did some research and found that it was similar to a bread I had made before, at least the name was similar.
We made Algerian Flatbread (aka Msemmen) in the Healthy Bread in Five Minutes challenge a few years ago, but when I started digging a little bit further into the different translations, it seems that the Msemmen we made in the HBinFive Baking Group was actually Meloui, not Msemen.
Moroccan Meloui, is flattened and coiled into a circle before baking. This was how we made the Msemmen a couple of years ago. I found several other references to different folding techniques such as ‘judges ears’ and ‘judges turban’ and several other techniques. The different translations/interpretations were very interesting, but a little confusing. I decided it was time to just make the bread.
On my first attempt, I spread the Rgaïf out, sprinkled it with parmesan cheese and black pepper, then folded and baked it in a heated skillet. It was a little too thick and a bit blah so I only made a couple this way. I made the rest plain and served them with roasted-garlic hummus. That was the ticket!
Makes: (about 10) or more depending on how many dough balls you shape
Adapted from: “Vrijdag couscousdag” by R. Ahali
- 500 g (3.5 – 4 cups) flour (I used white KAMUT flour) *
- 5.5 g (2 tsp.) instant yeast
- ½ tsp. salt
- ± 250 ml (1 cup) water (plus a little more if using KAMUT)
- 50 ml (~1/4 cup) olive oil
* I’ve been baking without using regular bread flour or all-purpose flour this year with the exception of my white sourdough starters. When I found out we were making rgaif, I wasn’t sure what flour to use as a substitute. The key to my dilemma jumped out at me from the instructions. “The dough needs to be very elastic...” I knew I could use KAMUT because compared to bread flour, it has very good elasticity and extensibility. This was a good thing because I’m still trying to work my way through a 25 pound bag of KAMUT.
Mix flour, yeast and salt in a large bowl.
Kneading by machine: Add water and start kneading with the dough hook, adding more water as necessary. Knead until the dough is very elastic and doesn’t stick to the sides anymore.
Kneading by hand: Make a well in the centre and add some water, start mixing in the flour where it touches the water. Little by little add more water and keep mixing in the flour. Start kneading, grease your hands with a little oil to prevent sticking. Knead about 20 minutes. Add water if it feels too dry. The dough needs to be very elastic and no dough should stick to your hands.
Shape: Make 10 dough balls. Coat every ball with a little olive oil. Let them rest for about 5 minutes. Flatten the ball with your hand as much as you can. Stretch the dough. Take care to get no (or a little as possible) holes in the dough. You need to stretch the dough until it gets as thin as you can, thinner than paper if possible. It’s best done on a counter top, stretching the dough and sticking it to the surface, so it doesn’t spring back. This part is tricky. Now fold the dough in squares by folding the round sides inwards.
Bake the squares in a hot large pan on both sides. Only use more oil if the Rgaïf stick to the pan. You can also deep fry them (as they do in southern Morocco)
Serve: You can serve them with syrup, (strawberry) jam, chocolate sauce. Or, you can use savory things, like thinly slices meat, cheese etc. You can also spread some filling in them, before folding and baking them. Just keep in mind to make it thin.
Happy 6th Anniversary Bread Baking Babes!
This was a fun and challenging bread to make. Some of mine turned out more like pita pockets, but they were good, especially with the hummus.
I’m excited to be baking as a Babe now. I’ve spent the past couple of years baking as a Buddy and thoroughly enjoyed it, but now I’ll be baking as a Babe. The heat is on!
Would you like to be a Bread Baking Buddy and learn how to stretch and fold Rgaïf? If so, please visit Lien’s blog to find out how. You’ll also want to visit the other Babes to see how they made their Rgaif.
Tanna-My kitchen in 1/2 cups
Karen - Bake my day!
Ilva - Lucullian delights
Lien - Notitie van Lien
Katie - Thyme for cooking
Natashya -Living in the kitchen with puppies
Elle-Feeding my enthousiasms
Elizabeth-from our kitchen
Jamie - Life's a feast
Heather - Girlichef
Aparna - My diverse kitchen