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Monday, February 17, 2014

Rghaïf (Moroccan Flat Bread) - Bread Baking Babes

Rghaïf (Moroccan Flat Bread) |
This month marks the 6-year anniversary of The Bread Baking Babes! Congrats Babes, it's been a pleasure both baking along with you, both as a former BBBuddy and a current BBBabe. And welcome to our brand new Babes, Aparna and Cathy - we are once again a complete dozen!

Lien is our kitchen-of-the-month, and she has chosen a Moroccan Flat Bread (Rghaïf) as our challenge. Rghaïf is a common street food in Morocco, and often eaten at breakfast or tea time. We were warned that they were a bit tricky to make. So of course, in usual fashion, I set about making them at the last minute.

At the risk of sounding like a pompous arse, I'm gonna go ahead and put this out there - I actually found these super simple to make. Making them is basically like making flour tortillas, except that you have to stretch and roll them thinner; paper-thin, actually. And in case you were wondering, yes, they taste like a tortilla, too. A thick, layered tortilla, but still a tortilla.

Rghaïf (Moroccan Flat Bread) |
Notice I said "roll". Maybe that was the key. The original recipe states to stretch the dough as thin as you can, and you really do want to be able to see through it. Well, as I tried doing this with my first ball of dough, I knew immediately that I wasn't going to be able stretch it without making an utter mess of things. So, I pulled out my rolling pin. I rolled it as thin as I could possibly get it, and THEN I stretched it until I could see through it. And it worked like a charm.

Another thing that I found helpful was to drizzle a tiny amount, just a thin sheen, of olive oil onto my work surface before putting the dough down. It was as if my dough was gliding into place as I worked it thinner and thinner. From start (making the dough) to finish (eating the bread), it took about 2 hours or so.
Rghaïf (Moroccan Flat Bread) |
The bread has beautiful, delicate layers when ripped open, but it is very plain. I rummaged through the fridge to see what I had that could add a bit of flavor. Cheese was all I found, but cheese is perfect, so it all worked out. I just scattered a little between the layers as I was folding it. Served with a sweet chili jam, I found the cheese-stuffed ones to be utterly irresistible. Next time, I'm going to try adding some paper-thin slices of charcuterie, as well.

Rghaïf (Moroccan Flat Bread)
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Rghaïf (Moroccan Flat Bread) |
by Heather Schmitt-Gonzalez
Prep Time: 20-30 minutes
Cook Time: 6 minutes (each)
Keywords: bread nut-free soy-free sugar-free vegetarian Moroccan

Ingredients (5 flatbreads)
  • 250 grams all-purpose flour
  • 2.75 grams active dry yeast
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 125-155 ml lukewarm water
  • 25 ml olive oil, more as needed
for filling and/or topping (optional):
  • Mozzarella or another cheese (preferably a fresh white cheese that is a bit salty, or a melty white cheese)
  • sweet chili jam
  • thinly sliced meats
Combine flour, yeast, and salt in a large bowl or the bowl of a mixer. Add the smaller amount of water and start kneading (by hand or with dough hook), adding the rest of the water if needed, until the dough is smooth and elastic. It should not stick to the sides of the bowl at all.

You can also do this in the pan of a bread machine, set to dough cycle, but I would add the ingredients in this order: water, salt, flour, yeast. Let dough cycle do it's job, then remove from machine and turn off.

The dough does NOT need to proof/rise. The small amount of yeast in the dough is added to help with elasticity and it adds a bit of flavor.

shaping the dough:
Divide the dough into 5 equal pieces (~80 grams each). Roll each piece into a ball and rub with a thin layer of olive oil. Set aside for 5-10 minutes, while you clear yourself a large work surface.

Pour a small drizzle of olive oil onto your work surface and set one dough ball down. Press flat with your hands, and gently roll the dough out as thin as you can get it without ripping. Now gently use your fingers to lift and stretch the dough out as far as you can. You want it to be paper-thin (or thinner).

If you want to fill them, do so at this point by scattering with some cheese and/or meat, or spreading with a bit of jam.

Fold the dough into a square(-ish) parcel by folding each of the four edges towards the center. Set each one aside onto a parchment-lined sheet tray while you form the rest.
making Rghaïf (Moroccan Flat Bread) |
Set a cast-iron (or other heavy) skillet over medium heat. Once it is hot, but just before it starts to smoke, turn the heat down just a smidge. Brush with a thin coat of olive oil (I just dribble some on and move it around with a paper towel). Set a dough parcel (or two - depending on the size of your pan) onto the pan and cook, flipping halfway through, for a total of about 6 minutes. You could also deep fry them as they do in Southern Morocco, if you wish.

I think that they taste best served warm. The cheese-filled ones are amazing when you spread them with some sweet chili jelly (though I bet spicy jelly would be equally awesome).

You could also drizzle with chocolate sauce or syrup made from honey and butter; the possibilities are endless.

-adapted from Vrijdag Couscousdag by Rachida Ahali 
Rghaïf (Moroccan Flat Bread) |

The Bread Baking Babes (current dozen) are:

The Bread Baking Buddies are: YOU!

So which Babe is the hosting kitchen this month?  That would be Lien at Notitie Van Lien, if you'd like to join in, simply make Rghaïf (yes, you may adapt) - and then send Lien your link (info in her announcement post).  Submissions are due by February 28th.  Once you've posted, you'll receive a Buddy badge for baking along.  I hope you'll join us this month!

I am sharing this post with Susan's Yeastspotting!

Come join the Fabulous Flatbread Challenge at Rachel Cooks sponsored by United Dairy Industry of Michigan — Win prizes!