Persian Flatbread (Nan-e Barbari)

Persian Flatbread

My husband made this bread to go with the Middle Eastern meal I fixed a while back. It is a classic Persian flatbread that gets crisp and golden in the oven.  I love the different textures in this bread from the crispness of the dough to the nuttiness of the sesame seeds.

 

Ingredients

1 packet active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)

2 cups lukewarm water

4 cups bread flour, additional for kneading

2 teaspoons Salt (I always use Pink Himalayan Sea Salt)

1 teaspoon vegetable oil, plus more for greasing

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon sugar

1/2 cup water

Cornmeal, for sprinkling (or Semolina flour)

1 tablespoon nigella seeds (see Note)

1 tablespoon sesame seeds

 

Directions

Attach the dough hook on you mixer, combine 2 cups of lukewarm water with the yeast and let stand for 5 minutes until the liquid becomes frothy (bubble will appear on top).

Add the 4 cups of bread flour and 2 teaspoons of salt.  Mix at medium speed until a loose dough forms. Turn the setting to medium-high and mix until the dough is smooth.

Move the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead for 1 minute.

Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm spot until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

Punch down the dough and divide into 2. Flatten dough to make disks. Transfer the flattened dough to an oiled baking sheet, cover with a sheet of oiled plastic wrap and let rise (proof) for 1 hour or until double the size.

While waiting for the dough to proof, grab a small saucepan and combine the all-purpose flour with the sugar, 1 teaspoon of vegetable oil and 1/2 cup of water. Cook the flour paste over moderate heat, whisking, until thickened, about 2 minutes. Let the flour paste cool.

Preheat the oven to 450° and set a pizza stone on the lowest rack. Let the stone heat for at least 30 minutes. Generously sprinkle a pizza peel with cornmeal.

Punch down 1 piece of the dough and transfer it to a lightly floured work surface. Press the dough to a 14-by-5-inch rectangle/oval, then transfer to the peel. Gently shake the peel lightly to make sure the dough doesn’t stick, adding more cornmeal if necessary. Using your fingers, press 5 deep lengthwise ridges into the dough. Rub about one-third of the flour paste over the surface and sprinkle with half of the nigella and sesame seeds. Slide the dough onto the hot stone and bake for about 18 minutes, until golden and risen. Repeat to make the second loaf (there will be some paste leftover). Serve warm.

Note: Nigella seeds (also called black onion seeds) found in specialty stores or Middle Eastern groceries.

* Adapted from Food & Wine February 2013

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