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Lebanese Mountain Bread

Printed From: Foods of the World Forum
Category: Asia
Forum Name: The Middle East
Forum Discription: From Turkey and the Arabic Peninsula to Pakistan and the far corners of Alexander's Empire.
Printed Date: 19 January 2021 at 14:30

Topic: Lebanese Mountain Bread
Posted By: HistoricFoodie
Subject: Lebanese Mountain Bread
Date Posted: 09 February 2020 at 21:01
On another thread ( - ), Gracoman introduced us to Lebanese Mountain Bread. I've been playing around with it ever since. 

I do not use the inverted bowl method. Tried it once, just to see how it works, but didn't see much difference between that and rolling & stretching the dough---which is much faster and, I would imagine, less frustrating for most folks. 

The real trick to this bread is regulating the heat so that it cooks through relatively quickly, but doesn't burn. I use a preheated cast-iron griddle, with a flame that about medium low. There's a learning curve there, but it doesn't take long to learn where to set it on your stove.  With my set up, two minutes per side produces a golden-brown color with no burning.

For my first adaptation, instead of water I use the whey left over from making Persian paneer, which is a fresh cheese.  Because I make this bread often, I've taken to freezing the whey in recipe-sized amounts. The whey acts as an enrichment which contributes to both taste and shelf life.

Next, I learned by accident, that covering the bread as it "bakes" helps with the texture. I suspect what's happening here is that moisture is retained by the cover, acting in the same manner as spraying an oven when baking regular bread.

Most recently, I adapted the recipe to use instant yeast instead of active dry.  Only reason to do this is time. I set the dough before going to bed the night before making the bread, and using instant yeast means I don't have to mix the sponge and wait for it to turn frothy; which can take as much as 20 minutes.

I have one more experiment in mind. Many Mid-Eastern flatbreads use a combination of regular flour and whole wheat, and I've been wondering what would happen if I tried replacing some of the white bread flour with whole wheat flour.  So that's next.  

I'll report on the outcome once I've done it.

Meanwhile, thanks, again, G-man, for turning me on to this bread. 

But we hae meat and we can eat
And sae the Lord be thanket

Posted By: gracoman
Date Posted: 11 February 2020 at 08:12
Nice adaptations!

I don't make this bread nearly as often as I'd like.  It is awesome stuff and I also use it, among other things, for - donair's .

Letting the stretched dough relax on inverted bowl for a minute seems to allow it to retain its size better than rolling but I'm all about easier so I'll give it a try since I've never really given it that much of a chance.

Another friend I've tuned on to this flatbread has taken to using a much larger bowl to stretch it out on.  She says its much easier.  She's like you Brook. Much more of a bread baker than I'll ever be.  She also makes this Lebanese bread often.  When bread bakers stick with a thing you know its good.

My Lefse baker has a cover so I'll also give that a go next time around.

Posted By: HistoricFoodie
Date Posted: 13 February 2020 at 09:22
I think you may have a point about stretching. Let's face it, that's the trick behind great pizza dough.

Although not nearly as much as with the inverted bowl, I do stretch it somewhat. Has to do with being rolling pin challenged (although I'm getting better).  So, once rolled roughly to size (sometimes very roughly), I stretch the dough as I reshape it into a more round configuration. 

No matter what final method is adopted, I really believe that anyone who doesn't give this bread a try is doing themself a disservice: It's relatively quick to make, is easy to cook, and tastes delicious. 

But we hae meat and we can eat
And sae the Lord be thanket

Posted By: HistoricFoodie
Date Posted: 17 February 2020 at 05:15
So, I've tried the whole-wheat approach, and it's a winner.  All I did was substitute one cup of whole wheat for one of the bread flour.

Whole wheat does hydrate differently than refined, so, if you try this, watch your liquid.  You may have to add a spoonful or three to achieve the desired dough consistency.

But we hae meat and we can eat
And sae the Lord be thanket

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