Yeasted Flatbreads with Za’atar Oil | Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street

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A wet dough and multiple rises produce a puffy, pillowy Yemeni-style flatbread
Milk Street Bowtie Yeasted Flatbreads with Za’atar Oil

Yeasted Flatbreads with Za’atar Oil

Appears in March-April 2021

1¼ hours Active time over the course of 1½ to 2½ days

Yeasted Flatbreads with Za’atar Oil

Free

At Magdalena restaurant in Migdal, Israel, chef Yousef (Zuzu) Hanna offers a house-baked flatbread that’s a hybrid of Yemeni saluf and Moroccan frena. Soft and chewy, with a puffy, open crumb and golden brown crust, the breads, shaped like slightly flattened mini boules, have a texture somewhere between naan and ciabatta. To recreate it at home, we use a moderately wet yeasted dough and give it multiple rises, including a 24- to 48-hour rise in the refrigerator, so be sure to read the recipe before beginning so you can plan accordingly. Immediately after baking, we brush the surface of the breads with a za’atar-infused oil that also can be served alongside the bread for dipping. Za’atar is a Levantine spice, seed and herb blend; look for it in the spice aisle of the supermarket or in Middle Eastern markets. You will need a baking steel or stone for this recipe, plus a baking peel for sliding the dough onto and off the steel.

4

6-inch flatbreads

Tip

Don’t forget to heat the oven with a baking steel or stone on the middle rack about 1 hour before baking. The best time to do this is immediately upon removing the dough balls from the refrigerator after their three-hour rise. When placing the dough rounds on the baking peel, don’t position them in the center of the peel. Rather, place them as close as possible to the edge so they slide off the peel and onto the steel with minimal effort.

1¼ hours

Active time over the course of 1½ to 2½ days

548 grams (4 cups) bread flour, plus more for dusting
1 tablespoon white sugar
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1½ cups water, cool room temperature (65°F)
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
8 grams (1¼ teaspoons) table salt
Semolina flour or fine cornmeal, for dusting the pizza peel
Za’atar oil
Ingredients
  • 548

    grams (4 cups) bread flour, plus more for dusting

  • 1

    tablespoon white sugar

  • 2

    teaspoons instant yeast

  • cups water, cool room temperature (65°F)

  • 3

    tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

  • 8

    grams (1¼ teaspoons) table salt

  • Semolina flour or fine cornmeal, for dusting the pizza peel

Directions
  1. 01
    In a stand mixer with the dough hook, mix the flour, sugar and yeast on low until combined, about 15 seconds. With the mixer running, gradually add the water and 2 tablespoons of oil. Mix on low until the ingredients form a strong dough that clears the sides of the bowl, about 5 minutes. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rest for 20 minutes.
    See Demo
    yeasted-flatbreads-zaatar-oil-step-1
  2. 02
    Uncover the bowl, sprinkle the salt over the dough and mix on low until smooth and elastic, 5 to 7 minutes. Meanwhile, coat a large bowl with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil.
    See Demo
    yeasted-flatbreads-zaatar-oil-step-2
  3. 03
    Transfer the dough to the prepared bowl. Dip your fingers into the oil pooled at the sides and dab the surface of the dough until completely coated. Using your hands, turn the dough over. Tightly cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until the dough is doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. Transfer to the refrigerator and let rise for at least 24 or up to 48 hours.
    See Demo
    yeasted-flatbreads-zaatar-oil-step-3
  4. 04
    Line a rimmed baking sheet with kitchen parchment and mist with cooking spray. Lightly flour the counter and turn out the dough. Using a chef’s knife or bench scraper, divide the dough into 4 even pieces, each about 8 ounces. Shape each into a taut, smooth ball and place seam side down, evenly spaced, on the prepared baking sheet. Mist the tops of the dough with cooking spray, cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 3 hours.
    See Demo
    yeasted-flatbreads-zaatar-oil-step-4
  5. 05
    Heat the oven to 500°F with a baking steel or stone on the middle rack. Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Generously flour the counter and set the dough balls on top; reserve the baking sheet. Dust the dough with flour and, using your fingertips, press each into a dimpled disk about 5½ inches wide and ½ inch thick. Return the dough to the baking sheet, evenly spacing the disks. Mist the dough with cooking spray, cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until slightly puffy, about 1 hour.
    See Demo
    yeasted-flatbreads-zaatar-oil-step-5
  6. 06
    Generously dust a baking peel with semolina. Flour your hands, then gently slide your fingers under one round of dough, lift and transfer to the prepared peel, placing the round near the edge so it will be easier to slide onto the baking steel. Repeat with another round of dough, making sure the two don’t touch. Gently shake the peel back and forth to ensure the dough is not sticking, then, working quickly, open the oven and slide the rounds onto the steel.
    See Demo
    yeasted-flatbreads-zaatar-oil-step-6
  7. 07
    Bake until the dough is puffed and golden brown, 7 to 10 minutes. Using the peel, transfer the breads to a wire rack. Lightly brush the tops with some of the za’atar oil. Bake the 2 remaining rounds in the same way. Serve the breads warm or at room temperature with the remaining za’atar oil for dipping.
    See Demo
    yeasted-flatbreads-zaatar-oil-step-7
Tip: Don’t forget to heat the oven with a baking steel or stone on the middle rack about 1 hour before baking. The best time to do this is immediately upon removing the dough balls from the refrigerator after their three-hour rise. When placing the dough rounds on the baking peel, don’t position them in the center of the peel. Rather, place them as close as possible to the edge so they slide off the peel and onto the steel with minimal effort.
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Yeasted Flatbreads with Za’atar Oil

Get Ready to Cook

4

6-inch flatbreads

1¼ hours

Active time over the course of 1½ to 2½ days

Tip

Don’t forget to heat the oven with a baking steel or stone on the middle rack about 1 hour before baking. The best time to do this is immediately upon removing the dough balls from the refrigerator after their three-hour rise. When placing the dough rounds on the baking peel, don’t position them in the center of the peel. Rather, place them as close as possible to the edge so they slide off the peel and onto the steel with minimal effort.

Ingredients
  • 548

    grams (4 cups) bread flour, plus more for dusting

  • 1

    tablespoon white sugar

  • 2

    teaspoons instant yeast

  • cups water, cool room temperature (65°F)

  • 3

    tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

  • 8

    grams (1¼ teaspoons) table salt

  • Semolina flour or fine cornmeal, for dusting the pizza peel

Step 1 of 7

Combine Ingredients In Stand Mixer

548
grams (4 cups) bread flour, plus more for dusting
1
tablespoon white sugar
2
teaspoons instant yeast
cups water, cool room temperature (65°F)
2
tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

In a stand mixer with the dough hook, mix the flour, sugar and yeast on low until combined, about 15 seconds. With the mixer running, gradually add the water and 2 tablespoons of oil.


Mix on low until the ingredients form a strong dough that clears the sides of the bowl, about 5 minutes. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rest for 20 minutes.

Step 2 of 7

Add Salt

8
grams (1¼ teaspoons) table salt
1
tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Uncover the bowl, sprinkle the salt over the dough and mix on low until smooth and elastic, 5 to 7 minutes. Meanwhile, coat a large bowl with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil.

Step 3 of 7

Rest Dough

Transfer the dough to the prepared bowl. Dip your fingers into the oil pooled at the sides and dab the surface of the dough until completely coated. Using your hands, turn the dough over.


Tightly cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until the dough is doubled in bulk, about 1 hour. Transfer to the refrigerator and let rise for at least 24 or up to 48 hours.

Step 4 of 7

Divide Dough

Line a rimmed baking sheet with kitchen parchment and mist with cooking spray. Lightly flour the counter and turn out the dough. Using a chef’s knife or bench scraper, divide the dough into 4 even pieces, each about 8 ounces.


Shape each into a taut, smooth ball and place seam side down, evenly spaced, on the prepared baking sheet. Mist the tops of the dough with cooking spray, cover loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 3 hours.

Step 5 of 7

Press Dough Into Disks

Heat the oven to 500°F with a baking steel or stone on the middle rack. Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Generously flour the counter and set the dough balls on top; reserve the baking sheet.


Dust the dough with flour and, using your fingertips, press each into a dimpled disk about 5½ inches wide and ½ inch thick. Return the dough to the baking sheet, evenly spacing the disks.


Mist the dough with cooking spray, cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until slightly puffy, about 1 hour.

Step 6 of 7

Prepare Dough for Baking

Semolina flour or fine cornmeal, for dusting the pizza peel

Generously dust a baking peel with semolina. Flour your hands, then gently slide your fingers under one round of dough, lift and transfer to the prepared peel, placing the round near the edge so it will be easier to slide onto the baking steel.


Repeat with another round of dough, making sure the two don’t touch. Gently shake the peel back and forth to ensure the dough is not sticking, then, working quickly, open the oven and slide the rounds onto the steel.

Step 7 of 7

Bake Dough

Bake until the dough is puffed and golden brown, 7 to 10 minutes. Using the peel, transfer the breads to a wire rack. Lightly brush the tops with some of the za’atar oil. Bake the 2 remaining rounds in the same way. Serve the breads warm or at room temperature with the remaining za’atar oil for dipping.

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