Moroccan Bread

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.

Finished Moroccan bread
Finished Moroccan bread

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 with cucumber and olive salad, and beef and apple tagine

Moroccan Bread makes one large flatbread

  • 7g instant yeast
  • 190g lukewarm water
  • 65g lukewarm milk
  • 200g strong white bread flour
  • 100g wholemeal flour
  • 6g salt
  • 1tbsp polenta
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
  1. Mix together the yeast, flours, salt and the liquids. Combine and autolyse for 20 minutes. The autolyse is optional, but makes the kneading easier.
  2. Knead for 8-10 minutes until soft and springy.
  3. Gather the dough into a ball and roll around in the polenta. Flatten to a disc, mist top with water or brush with extra milk, and cover in sesame seeds.
  4. Proof for one hour, or until the dough is lightly risen. Preheat oven to 220°C.
  5. Slash the bread in a couple of places and bake for 15 minutes, until golden brown.
  6. Cool on a wire rack for half an hour before serving.
Flattened to a disc, the dough will rise for around an hour.
The open crumb is a result of the wet dough
The open crumb is a result of the wet dough

White sourdough in bulk: bread for sale

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.

The first three loaves of sourdough out of the oven
The first three loaves of sourdough out of the oven

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.

Half a dozen sourdough ready for sale
Half a dozen sourdough ready for sale

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.

Sourdough wrapped in brown craft paper, ready to sell the next morning
Sourdough wrapped in brown craft paper, ready to sell the next morning

“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.

  1. To make handling the dough simpler, divide the recipe in two and use two containers (see images below).
  2. Combine starter and water in a large measuring jug and whisk.
  3. Add the starter and water mix to the flour and salt. Combine well in the large plastic container, then autolyse for 15 minutes.
  4. Stretch/fold the dough, and rest again for 15 minutes. Repeat the stretch/fold/rest four more times.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Cool on a wire rack.
The dough, mixed in two separate containers
The dough, mixed in two separate containers
The dough, after resting and stretch/folding, ready to bulk ferment
The dough, after resting and stretch/folding, ready to bulk ferment
The risen dough after a 12 hour bulk ferment overnight on the counter
The risen dough after a 12 hour bulk ferment overnight on the counter
1) Weigh out the dough into 850g portions. 2) Take a portion of dough, fold over a third into the middle and press down. 3) Rotate 90 ° and repeat the fold. Repeat on all sides. 4) Using cupped hands, “tension pull” the dough: turn the dough, using the friction of the bench to pull the skin of the dough tight. 5) Rest the dough for 15 minutes, then repeat the tension fold. Repeat this four times.

Light Wholemeal Sourdough

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.

Light wholemeal sourdough

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…

Light wholemeal sourdough

Light Wholemeal Sourdough – makes two boules

  • 240g wholegrain flour
  • 560g strong bread flour
  • 530ml warm water
  • 300g white starter @ 130% hydration
  • 16g salt
  1. 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.
  2. Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl and mix thoroughly. Autolyse for 20 minutes, then stretch/fold a dozen times.
  3. Bulk ferment for 4 hours, doing a stretch/fold a few times in the first couple of hours.
  4. 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).
  5. 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.
  6. Transfer to a wire rack and cool for at least an hour before slicing. Repeat with the remaining loaf.
The crumb is light and open, with colour from the wholemeal flour