23 February 2013

A new spice mixture

While watching the Danish Great Bake Off - Den store Bagedyst, one of the savoury breads was called manaish and had a spice mixture called zaarta, which looked intriguing.

After some googling, I found several synonyms for this, but no clear information on what the mixture contains. Luckily I was able to get hold of some the other day, under the name of za'atar. It's green and has sesame seeds in it and smells really nice.

As it was time to make bread, I decided to try out my new spice mixture. I still haven't worked out a routine for my sourdough starter and am still struggling to reduce the amount, but today I think I may have sussed it.

As usual, I began by feeding the starter. I had just over 300 g of starter into which I added 200 g water and then 150 g flour. A few hours later, it had doubled, so I transferred 200 g of it back to its jar and put the rest in the bowl of the kitchen machine.

I switched it on and started adding flour, a little at a time and when it came together, I checked for stickiness. When it was barely sticky and the gluten was almost fully developed, I manually incorporated about half a decilitre of olive oil and let it rise, a bit too long than I should have, but I was busy making the beef sarma.


Still, I rolled out the dough, brushed with more olive oil, then sprinkled za'atar all over the surface and rolled it up like a Swiss roll. Then placed the roll into the loaf tin and let it proof for another hour before baking it at 240 degrees C for 20 minutes, covering with aluminium foil, reducing to 200 degrees C and baking for a further 30 minutes.


The bread looked really pretty and smelt very nice. I had some toasted with butter. The za'atar mixture tasted a lot milder than I expected. Perhaps I should be even more generous with it, though I thought I'd sprinkled quite a lot on the bread to begin with.

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