An article in Food and Wine magazine about flatbreads from around the world caught my attention not only because of the beauty of the breads but also the simplicity of making them. This particular recipe makes two oval flatbreads known as Nan-e Barbari. This is the Persian version which is known for being one of the thickest flatbreads. The first time I made this I followed the recipe closely and was very impressed. I noticed its similarity to focaccia and elected not to stretch the dough so thin next time and the result was fabulous multi-use bread. Though the dough was very wet, so much so that I worried how it would turn out, it worked out beautifully.
The bread has a wonderful crumb with large air pockets that when sliced in half create the best nooks and crannies for your sandwich spreads. If you’re not splitting the bread for a sandwich serve it warm with salads, soups, feta & cucumbers, or grilled chicken.
At this point the bread has been brushed with the glaze (also known as roomal) which results in a beautiful golden crust.
The bread is delicious on its own but makes a fine sandwich.
- 4 cups bread flour, plus more for kneading
- 2¼ teaspoons rapid rise yeast (bread machine yeast)
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1⅔ cups water
- sesame seeds
- nigella seeds (optional)
- coarse or flaky sea salt such as fleur de sel or Maldon
- 2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon vegetable oil
- ⅓ cup water
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the flour, yeast, salt and water. Mix on medium-low speed until a loose dough forms. (You may also mix the ingredients with your hands or bread machine if you don't have a stand mixer. The dough will be very wet). Increase the speed to medium-high and mix until the dough is supple and smooth, about 5 minutes. If the dough seems too wet, add a teaspoon or so of flour. The dough should be soft and slightly sticky so resist the temptation of adding too much flour. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead for 1 minute. Place the dough in a large oiled bowl. Cover the bowl with lightly oiled plastic wrap and set aside until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
- Gently deflate the dough and divide it into two pieces. Shape each piece into an oval about 9" long. Transfer ovals to a lightly greased baking sheet and cover with a sheet of oiled plastic wrap. Let rise for 30 - 45 minutes.
- While the dough is rising, heat the flour, sugar, oil, and water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook the flour paste over moderate heat, whisking constantly until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. The glaze will easily coat the back of a spoon. Set aside to cool.
- Place a rack in the lower third of the oven and set a pizza stone on top. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
- Cover two large cookie sheets with parchment paper and dust very lightly with flour or fine semolina. Working with one piece at a time, gently deflate the dough on the cookie sheet. If making flatbread shape the dough into a 14"x5" rectangle. Using your fingers (floured) press 5 deep, lengthwise ridges into the dough. Brush half of the glaze over the top and sprinkle with sesame seeds, nigella seeds if using, and a little course salt. Slide the dough with the parchment paper on to the pizza stone. If you do not have a pizza stone, bake the bread on the baking sheet on the middle rack of the oven. Bake for about 15 - 18 minutes until the top is golden brown. If you are making focaccia rather than flatbread, shape the dough into a long rectangle that you can later cut into sandwich-sized pieces. (Try not to stretch it too thin). Bake for 15 - 18 minutes. Transfer bread to a wire rack to cool before slicing.