If you’re a fan of mezze and dips like hummus and Tzatziki, you’ll need some flatbread as your edible spoon. Victoria argues that pale supermarket pitta can’t compete with home made varieties and shows how you can knock up Maneesh in no time.
Little pleases me more than a generous array of mezze ready to be scooped up with a torn-off piece of flatbread. There is greedy pleasure to be found in sitting at a table groaning under the weight of several colourful dishes. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of the meat and two veg approach too, but sometimes only an abundance of variety will do.
Maneesh is a Middle Eastern flatbread that makes the perfect edible spoon for babaganoush, hummus, tabbouleh or Labneh, as well as a delightful sponge to wipe up leftover sauce or meat juices. It’s a really easy bread to make and its fragrant za’atar crust makes it tasty enough to eat alone. You can take it from me that after a boozy dinner party, any leftovers make for an extremely satisfying breakfast. It has a slightly sweet flavour and the texture of the sesame seeds make a lovely contrast to the soft, sponginess of the bread.
Shop-bought flatbread just can’t compete, so why bother opening your wallet for pale and dusty supermarket pitta, when you can knock up Maneesh in no time. Granted, there is proving time (not true of all flatbreads) but all that really means is that you have an hour off to get on with other things, like putting your feet up.
Maneesh - Middle Eastern Flatbread
350g strong white bread flour
1 tsp. salt
1tbsp. caster sugar
1 x 7g sachet of fast acting yeast
1 tbsp. olive oil (not extra virgin, plus extra for oiling the table)
250ml lukewarm water
For the za’atar topping
3 tbsp. sesame seeds
1 tbsp. dried thyme
1 tbsp. dried oregano
1 tbsp. dried majoram
1 tsp. sumac
2 tsp. salt
A very generous glug (at least 2 tbsp.) olive oil
Sift the flour into a large bowl and place the salt on one side and the yeast and sugar on the other. Make a well in the middle and add the oil and two-thirds of the water. Mix together thoroughly, adding the remaining water a little at a time until you have a smooth dough.
Oil your worktop and knead your dough on it for about 10 minutes or until the dough is elastic. You can do this in a freestanding mixer with a dough hook if you prefer. Form a ball, and place it in a large oiled bowl and cover the top with cling film. Pop it somewhere warm (I stick it in the airing cupboard) for about an hour or until the dough has doubled in size.
Knock back the dough by giving it a good punch and tip it out onto the worktop and knead again for a couple of minutes. Divide the dough into two and shape each piece into a ball. Roll each ball of dough into a large round about a centimetre thick and place each on a lightly floured baking tray.
To make the za’atar topping, simply mix up all the ingredients into a paste and spread half of the mixture onto each flatbread. Leave to rest for 15 – 30 minutes while you preheat your oven as hot as it will go (230°C in my case).
Bake the Maneesh for 15 – 20 minutes, or until golden and transfer to a wire rack to cool before eating.
For more delicious and easy bread recipes visit Great British Chefs collection.
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