Sunday, 29 August 2010

Msemmen (Algerian Flatbread)

I had the opportunity to visit with my boyfriend's family this afternoon. The menu was varied and they left it up to my discretion as to what I wanted to bring. 

Well, you know I'm always up for making bread. So, I decided to make Healthy Bread in Five Minutes Algerian Flatbread.  Hummus was also on the menu so I thought the Algerian Flatbread might go really well with it.

How to make this delicious bread:

The recipe for this Algerian Flatbread is found on page 228 of the Healthy Bread in Five Minutes book. For the dough, I used the 100% Whole Wheat Bread, Plain and Simple recipe (found on page 79), but you can also use 100% Whole Wheat Bread with Olive Oil recipe, or the Healthy Bread in Five Minutes Master Recipe for the dough.

I made the dough a couple of days in advance and let it ferment in the refrigerator until I was ready to use it.  I used home-milled whole wheat flour from hard red spring wheat.

When I removed the dough from the refrigerator, I cut off two 1/2 pound pieces, shaped them into a ball and put them in a plastic bag to transport to the get together.  The formula in the book calls for 1/4 pound pieces, but I had extra dough so I made them a little bit bigger.

The dough and the rest of the ingredients are very transportable.  All I had to take with me, my Mise en Place, was the dough balls, cumin, paprika, cayenne pepper, turmeric, and kosher salt. The only thing I forgot was the rolling pin.  I put all of this in a plastic bag and was ready to go.

Once I got there, I mixed some olive oil with the spices.  I forgot to add the salt, but it really didn't need it.

The dough had been resting while in transport so it was easy to work with once I got there. I rolled it into a circle to fit the cast iron skillet. I had to do this with my fingers since I didn't have a rolling pin. It worked just fine. I spread the spice mixture evenly over the top, leaving a 1/2-inch border.

Then I rolled the dough up into a log.

The spice mixture was really liquidy due to the olive oil so it oozed out as I was rolling it up.  It also made a big mess on the counter.  The next time I make this bread, I'll wear gloves and make sure I roll it out on something that I don't mind getting stained.  Fortunately the stains from the spices (cumin mostly) came off the counter.

Next I coiled the rope (log) tightly around itself and placed it in the skillet to rest for about 20 minutes.  I didn't want to put it on the work surface since we had just cleaned it from the cumin stains.

After the coil had rested sufficiently, I rolled it out into a circle again using my fingers.  This time, I used a plastic bag underneath so that it wouldn't get yellow stains on the counter. 

I baked the flatbread in the preheated skillet for about 2 to 5 minutes on the first side. 

Then I flipped the msemmen when the underside was richly browned and continued cooking it another 2 to 5 minutes, until the second side was browned.  I had rolled my msemmen a little bit thick so I let it cook for a little while longer.

I let it cool slightly and I mean slightly, because I had people waiting with baited breath to eat it. Then, I cut it into slices. This bread is a wee bit spicy, but it went really well with the hummus. I didn't think to take a photo of a piece with hummus on it.  We were enjoying it too much.

Since we enjoyed the first one so much, I made the other one.  I didn't use all of  the olive oil/spice mixture on the first one so I used the rest on this one. 

This is one time that the whole wheat flour did not overpower the spices in the bread.  It was really really good!  I got rave reviews from all of the taste testers.

Thanks for joining me in the bread-baking blog.  This flatbread has been YeastSpotted. Please visit Wild Yeast to view all of the lovely breads in the roundup.

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