Ready for the Oven
For the first day of Lent I want to offer a simple recipe from the Lebanese Kitchen which is easy to prepare , tasty, full of nutritious ingredients, an energy booster. It's a breakfast staple, great for lunch , wonderful as a snack, and amazing any time of the day... This is my weakness.. The Humble Mankousheh.... which is bread dough stuffed either with Zaatar Mix and then it's called Mankousheh Zaatar (Oregano Bread) or stuffed with Cheese and its Mankousheh Jibneh or stuffed with meat and its called Lahem BiAjeen or Sfeeha.
In every corner of every neighbourhood in Beirut, you will find a Manakish Bakery; they open with the first light of the day, to prepare their dough, to be ready with the first customer entering their doors. During breakfast rush hour, all the bakeries are busy. On the weekend you have to have a ticket specially if some ladies, bring their own Zaatar mix to make their own Manakish at the bakery; you will ask for some dough and they give it to you rolled on a wooden board, one beside the other, as much as you want, when you finish stuffing your bread, they will bake it for you . Some ladies even bring Zaatar and cheese mix or meat mix for Lahem Bi Ajeen or Sfeeha. This is how much we love our Manakish burning hot out of the oven, served with fresh mint leaves, some black olives and slices of tomatoes.
You will have a nice treat , If you get to taste Mankousheh done on the Saj, which is a metal disk burns either on wood or Propane Gas. My mom has a Gas Saj she bought it to make our daily lavash bread during the war . Our treat at the end of a bread day; baking some nice hot Mankousheh on the Saj. On some weekends we used to invite our neighbors in the building for Manakish breakfast with Zaatar and Cheese accompanied with a cup of warm tea.
I do get my share from her amazing Zaatar mix. She became friends with a spice mill place in our area, she takes some Zaatar to Sami the owner to package the Zaatar in a sealed bag from his Mill... this way if she is travelling or sending it with someone... she will not have any problem at the customs... Smart!
To prepare the best Mankousheh, you must have a good quality of Zaatar mix, good quality of Olive Oil, I like the Greek Olive Oil, because its very close to our oil, most of all a good dough, because if you don't have a good dough, all the above will not matter.
1 cup starter, with 2 cups of warm liquid (combination of water and 1/2 cup olive oil)
4 cups of unbleached flour, one teaspoon of dry yeast one tsp salt and tbsp of sugar....
the dough needs to rest and take its time to double... be patient and don't ever rush your dough
When the dough rise and double, I take around a big ball and put in a freezer bag, to use it the next time I make another bread dough.
A Treat from mom