A blend of dried thyme, sesame seeds, sumac and salt, this Middle Eastern spice is gaining popularity here as the influence of Lebanese and Turkish cuisine spreads. The word za'atar is used to describe both the herb thyme and the blend of spices. It is usually sprinkled over food as a seasoning or garnish and adds herbal nutty and zingy flavours, which works particularly well with roast or fried chicken. It also has an affinity with bread, either sprinkled over the top before baking, or mixed with olive oil and dipped into afterwards.
- 1 tsp instant dried yeast
- 150 gm wholemeal flour (1 cup)
- 675 gm plain flour (4 ½ cups)
- 1 tbsp sea salt
- To drizzle: extra-virgin olive oil
- 1½ tbsp dried thyme leaves
- 2 tsp sumac
- 1 tsp sesame seeds, toasted
- ½ tsp sea salt
- 1In a large mixing bowl combine yeast with 600ml warm water and stir to dissolve yeast. Add wholemeal flour and 1 cup plain flour and stir to combine. Cover with a tea towel and stand for at least 1 hour.
- 2Sprinkle yeast mixture with salt, add 1 cup plain flour and stir to combine. Add remaining flour and stir to combine, then turn onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 10 minutes or until smooth. Place dough into a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and stand for 2-3 hours or until doubled in size.
- 3For za’atar, place thyme in a mortar and, using a pestle, coarsely crush, add remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Keep za’atar in an airtight container or jar in pantry until required.
- 4Preheat oven to 220C and place a pizza stone or oven tray on the middle oven shelf. Knock down dough and turn onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide dough into 8 and shape into 12cm ovals, cover and stand to rise for 30 minutes.
- 5Drizzle each bread with olive oil and press fingertips over the surface to dimple. Sprinkle generously with za’atar. Place dough onto pizza stone or oven tray and bake for 12 minutes or until golden. Repeat with remaining dough. This bread is best served warm with Middle Eastern-style dips such as hummus.