As far as I’m concerned, the best Moroccan bread is light and fluffy on the inside, with a fairly crisp crust coated in polenta and studded with sesame seeds. It’s somewhere in between a flatbread and a yeasted bread, the perfect bread for mopping up a sweet, rich tagine, or alongside any Moroccan dish.
I’ve played around with a few different recipes, so, whilst this probably isn’t the most authentic Moroccan bread recipe out there, it’s definitely the one I’m the most happy with. It only has one bulk ferment/proof, and rises mainly in the oven whilst baking.
Moroccan Bread makes one large flatbread
7g instant yeast
190g lukewarm water
65g lukewarm milk
200g strong white bread flour
100g wholemeal flour
2 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
Mix together the yeast, flours, salt and the liquids. Combine and autolyse for 20 minutes. The autolyse is optional, but makes the kneading easier.
For a while now I’ve been planning on baking on a larger scale – perhaps to take some loaves to sell at the local farmer’s market, or to people at work. Since getting a new oven, I’ve finally been able to have a go at baking more than my usual 2 or 3 loaves.
This recipe comes courtesy of the administrator of the Sourdough Bakers group on Facebook, W Forrest, and all credit goes to him for the method, and the extremely helpful messages that I received when I asked him for some advice. One of the great things about baking – like many “crafts” – is that there is a diverse community of interested people who are always willing to share ideas.
The method, and the recipe, is similar to other sourdough recipes, with the exception of a few more shapings, which help the dough “spring” in the oven and retain the open crumb. The technique I have used to shape the loaves is a “letter fold” – taking a third of the dough, stretching it, and pressing it into the middle. This is repeated on all sides of the dough, and then the dough is shaped into a ball with cupped hands. The rotation with cupped hands, called a “tension pull”, is then repeated four times at 15 minute intervals. I’ve included a step by step photo after the recipe.
All in all, I baked 8 loaves, kept two, and sold the other six. The bread sold out quickly, and I’ll definitely be making this a regular bake whenever I have the time.
“Bulk” white sourdough – Makes 8 boules
4000g strong white bread flour
80g salt (kosher salt or ground rock salt)
2600g water at 27°C
200g white starter*
*The day before starting, I refreshed my rye starter with white flour to “convert it” and get it ready for use. I used 100g white flour and 100g water to 50g rye starter, and left the mix overnight at room temperature. The starter can be refrigerated and used straight from the fridge.
To make handling the dough simpler, divide the recipe in two and use two containers (see images below).
Combine starter and water in a large measuring jug and whisk.
Add the starter and water mix to the flour and salt. Combine well in the large plastic container, then autolyse for 15 minutes.
Stretch/fold the dough, and rest again for 15 minutes. Repeat the stretch/fold/rest four more times.
Tip the dough out onto the counter, oil the container, and then shape the dough into a ball and roll around in the oil to coat. Bulk ferment overnight at room temperature for 10 hours, until doubled.
Weigh out 850g portions and shape into boules. Rest for 15 minutes, then reshape. Repeat the shape/rest 3 more times. Put dough into floured bannetons and proof at room temperature for 4 hours, until risen.
Preheat oven to 230°C. Score loaves, then bake in a cast-iron or ceramic lidded pot. Bake for 15 minutes with the lid on, and 15 minutes with the lid off.
This is a 70/30 blend of strong white bread flour and wholemeal flour , which gives it a great texture and a fairly subtle flavour that allows the sourness of the dough to come through.
To adjust how “sour” the loaf is, you can play around with the time between refreshing the starter – when you feed the starter with flour and water. Refreshing more often, or with greater quantities of flour and water, will reduce the sour flavours in the final bread. The longer you leave a refreshed starter for, the more acids build up which create the sour flavour, but also more of the yeasts are used up. Try to find a balance that works for you in terms of the flavour of the dough, and the rising amount and time.
This is also the last loaf of bread that I will ever make in the clapped out tiny gas oven. It’s been emotional (not really), and hard work (very), but I’ve made some loaves that I have been very pleased with. Recently, the oven temperature dropped and we decided it was time to get a new oven, so now we’re waiting for the electrician to come and install the replacement. Obviously I’ll have to give it a test drive this weekend…
For this loaf, I refreshed the starter twice at 12 hour intervals, building it from 50g of rye starter to the finished white starter by adding 100g of white flour and 130g of water each time. I kept the left over starter and refreshed it once more to make sourdough pancakes.
Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl and mix thoroughly. Autolyse for 20 minutes, then stretch/fold a dozen times.
Bulk ferment for 4 hours, doing a stretch/fold a few times in the first couple of hours.
Divide and shape into boules, and transfer to well floured bannetons. Proof for 2 hours at room temperature. Transfer to the fridge in plastic bags and rest overnight (this step is optional).
Preheat the oven to maximum with a lidded cast-iron pot (Dutch oven) on the middle shelf. Bake one loaf at a time for 30 minutes with the lid on, then reduce the temperature to 230˚C and bake for 15 minutes with the lid off.
Transfer to a wire rack and cool for at least an hour before slicing. Repeat with the remaining loaf.