Corn and Tomato Crostini with Cashew Cheese

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Ever since I started baking and reading about baking bread, I have fantasised about baking with bread flour. But t is not available in India and so that idea continued to stay in my fantasies. Though many people say that it doesn’t make much of a difference, I wanted to try it out once. Whenever any friend or relative would travel from the West and ask me what I want, my answer was invariably bread flour and rye flour. The response was mostly eye rolling, sighing and shaking heads in disappointment. Due to many reasons, I couldn’t be successful in this endeavour till one day the husband had to make a 2 day trip to Amsterdam. 

He was not pleased because it took him more time to travel than he would spend there. But I was not going to give up on this chance. I pleaded, coerced and bullied (mostly bullied) him to promise me to get bread flour.  He finally did when he figured he couldn’t get away this time. When he returned I grabbed the suitcase from him and almost tore it open. His exasperation coupled with jet lag was a sight to behold. He also got me some amazing waffle strudel which was one of the most delicious things I tasted. So extra brownie points for that!
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Finally I decided to bake a Boule with it for the Bread Bakers International Breads theme. You have to see the bread flour expanding to fill the bowl. It is so airy and light and has such a beautiful crust and crumb. I am in love and waiting for the husband’s next trip to Europe. Fingers crossed.

So I made some delicious and simple cashew cheese to go along with it. Then I figured I could make a crostini with corn and the cheese and translate that to a protein rich dish. Since I have used bread flour, that is also high in protein which is the icing on the cake. You can try this with any other bread like a baguette or even regular sliced bread. But a homemade bread does give an awesome flavour to it. This is a quick recipe for a breakfast or snack and can be made with whatever veggies no toppings you have on hand. I have used cashew cheese, the recipe for which will be posted next week. But you can use goat cheese or paneer or any other spread like hummus or baba ghanoush. It is all completely left to your imagination.

Protein – Corn and cashew cheese

Makes 6 slices

WHAT WE NEED

Bread slices                       6

Sweet corn, shelled          1/2 cup

Cherry tomatoes                10-12

Cashew cheese                    2-3 tbsp

Mixed herbs                         1 tsp

Fresh coriander                   2-3 stalks

Olive oil

Salt
WHAT TO DO

  • Preheat the oven to 175C
  • Brush the bread slices with olive oil and place them on a greased baking tray
  • Bake for 6-8 minutes. If you want it very crisp, bake for a minute or so longer
  • Cook the corn in a vessel with hot water for 6-8 minutes till it is well done
  • Drain the water from the corn
  • Cut the cherry tomatoes into halves
  • Mix the corn, cherry tomatoes, finely chopped coriander, mixed herbs and salt
  • Take out the bread slices from the oven
  • Spread some cashew cheese on the bread slices
  • Top it with the corn tomato mixture
  • Enjoy!

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This is my post for the Mega Marathon under the theme, ‘Protein Rich Dishes’.
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Karamani Kuzhi Paniyaram

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Since we were good yesterday and had some nutritious mung sprouts soup, we can indulge ourselves today with this crispy kuzhi paniyaram or fried dumplings. Usually this is made with leftover idli batter but since we are on a protein rich theme, we shall make this with cowpeas / one eyed peas / lobia. The husband and daughter loved it so much that they can’t believe they weren’t given this delicacy all this time.

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My mother saw this recipe on TV by one of my favorite chefs, Venkatesh Bhat last month. She remembered my protein rich theme and immediately called me. I was so happy with this recipe because it shows that protein rich need not always be only healthy food but can also be fun. This is a lovely snack for a rainy evening, which is what we have been having in Bangalore for the past week or so. When I made this with some cardamom tea, the husband was ecstatic and the daughter gobbled quite a few within minutes.

The only time consuming part is the soaking of the cowpeas for 6-8 hours. The rest of the procedure is as easy as they come. An additional equipment you will need is an appe pan (as shown in the image below)

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Once the cowpeas are soaked, all you need to do is grind it with onion, green chillies, curry leaves, ginger and grated coconut. I had the coconut all ready but forgot to add it and so I omitted it. It tasted fabulous even then.

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Protein – Cowpeas / One eyed peas / Lobia / Karamani

Recipe from Samayal Samayal TV show

Serves 4

WHAT WE NEED

Cowpeas                                   1/2 cup

Onion, medium                       1

Curry leaves                            1 sprig

Ginger                                       1″

Green chillies                          1-2

Grated coconut                       1 tbsp

Salt

Ghee / clarified butter           to fry

 

WHAT TO DO

  • Wash and soak the cowpeas in 4 cups of water for 6-8 hours, till it can be mashed by your fingers
  • Drain the water and transfer the cowpeas to a mixer / blender
  • Roughly chop the onion, curry leaves, ginger and green chillies and add to the blender
  • Blend all the ingredients together with little water. The batter needs to be of consistency similar to the idli batter
  • Heat the appe pan and add ghee to each cavity of the pan till it almost half full with ghee
  • Once the ghee is sufficiently hot, use a spoon to drop batter in each cavity of the pan till it is full till the brim
  • When the sides of the paniyaram start to brown, use the backend of a spoon to gently turn it around to the other side
  • It should be completely cooked within a minute or so
  • Take it out of the pan
  • The paniyaram will be crispy on the outside and cotton-like light on the inside
  • Serve hot with ketchup or any other chutney or dip of your choice
  • Enjoy!

NOTES

  1. According to the original recipe, the onion, ginger, curry leaves and chillies were to be fried in a teaspoon of oil and added to the cowpeas after it was ground to a batter. I did not do so because it would be an additional pan to clean and the daughter is not a huge fan of curry leaves and keeps pulling it out of all dishes to discard. You could do it for a good bite and more pronounced flavours.
  2. If you end up adding a little too much water while blending, add 1-2 tbsp of rice flour or semolina to thicken the batter

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This is my post for the second day of the Mega Marathon for ‘Protein Rich Dishes’.

 

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Labneh

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The third and final dish of the Lebanese cuisine theme is Labneh which stands testimony to the fact that not all awesome dishes need to have a tough recipe. Labneh is seen as Lebanese cream cheese and is just as thick and creamy. And all you need to make yourself a batch of labneh is patience – lots of it. This is a no cook recipe and so it is very easy. But if you need a batch of labneh today, you need to have started making it two days ago. Yes, it takes that long but we know it is quite worth the wait.

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Makes one bowl of labneh

Recipe adapted from here

WHAT WE NEED

Greek yogurt / thick curds                500gms

Fresh lemon juice                               1/4 tsp

Salt                                                          a pinch

Zaatar powder                                      1 tbsp

Olive oil                                                  2-3 tbsp
WHAT TO DO

  • Take a cheesecloth and line it over a bowl
  • In another bowl, mix the yogurt, lemon juice and salt
  • Transfer the yogurt mixture onto the cheesecloth
  • Tie up the cheesecloth over a ladle or large spoon such that the cheesecloth does not touch the bottom of the bowl similar to how it is done to obtain hung curd
  • This ensures that the whey drained from the yogurt will not find its way back into the cheesecloth
  • Keep the yogurt with the bowl in the refrigerator for around 24 hours
  • After 12 hours, check the bowl and pour the whey out of the bowl 
  • After 24 hours, transfer the hung curd mixture to a bowl
  • Add the olive oil and zaatar powder
  • Serve cold with vegetable slices or warm pita bread
  • Enjoy!

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This is my post for the Blogging Marathon under the theme, ‘Lebanese cuisine’.
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Pita Bread

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This is the second recipe in the Lebanese cuisine theme. It is the classic and most popular dish – the pita. The Pita is a leavened bread made with all purpose flour. It can either be cooked on the stove top or baked in the oven. Having tried both methods, I definitely recommend baking it. The pita puffs up beautifully in the oven and the layers are well formed. It easily gives way to making a pita pocket to put the stuffing in. The pita cooked on the stove top looks well done while the baked one would leave you in doubt as to its doneness. But do not worry, if it puffs up well, it is done well.

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When you make it on a stove top you have to ensure that the skillet is very hot to cook the pita but at the same time not too hot to spoil it. You have to be very careful and vigilant to turn it over at the right time and yet it is not a guarantee that the pita would puff largely instead of small little pockets like a regular roti. But when you bake it, all you need to do is set the temperature and watch while the magic is performed. I also loved the taste of the baked version as against the stovetop version.

You can use the pita with the classic falafel or for a vegetable sandwich. If you have any leftover pitas, simply toast them with butter and garlic and be amazed.

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Recipe from here

Makes 8 pitas

WHAT WE NEED

All purpose flour                       2 1/2 – 3 cups 

Active dry / Instant yeast         2 tsp

Warm water                               1 cup

Salt                                               2 tsp

Olive oil (optional)                    2 tsp
WHAT TO DO

  • Mix the water and yeast in a large bowl and set aside for 2-3 minutes
  • Add 2 1/2 cups of flour, salt and oil to the water and yeast
  • Mix all the ingredients together to form the dough
  • Dust the counter top with some flour and transfer the dough to the counter top
  • Knead the dough well for 7-8 minutes and add some flour if needed to make a smooth and pliable dough
  • Grease the bowl with some olive oil and transfer the dough to it
  • Turn it around in the bowl so that all sides of the dough are well oiled
  • Cover the bowl with a damp kitchen towel or cling wrap and set aside till the dough doubles
  • It can take around 1-2 hours depending on the climate
  • If needed, the dough can be refrigerated at this point and used to make the pita at a later time
  • Once the dough is doubled, divide it into 8 parts and shape each of them into a ball

If cooking on the stovetop

  • Heat the skillet till it is very hot
  • Take each ball of dough and roll it into a 3″ thick circle
  • Transfer the rolled out dough to the skillet and cook for 30 seconds
  • Turn the pita over and cook for a minute or so till the pita puffs up well
  • Take it off the heat 
  • Repeat the same procedure till all 8 pitas are made
  • Enjoy with some falafel and salad!

If baking 

  • Preheat the oven to 230C
  • Roll out each dough ball to a 3″ thick circlular pita
  • Transfer the rolled out dough (as many as can be fitted comfortably) to the baking tray
  • Bake for 3-4 minutes till the pita puffs up
  • Take it out of the oven
  • Repeat the same procedure till all the pitas are baked
  • Enjoy it with some falafel and hummus

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 This is my post for the Blogging Marathon under the theme, Lebanese Cuisine’.

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Carrot Salad

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This is another easy and simple salad. Carrots are a salad regular and I usually make it South Indian style. This recipe from the book, Diva Green, had a different flavour combination for the ubiquitous carrot. The mint, sesame seeds, honey and lemon juice make a beautiful team to enhance this simple salad to the next level.

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Serves 2-3

Recipe from Diva Green: a vegetarian cookbook by Ritu Dalmia

WHAT WE NEED

Carrots, medium                4

Sesame seeds                       1 tsp

Mint leaves                           8-10

Raisins                                   2 tbsp

Sesame oil                             4-5 tsp

Lemon juice                          2 tbsp

Honey                                     1 tsp

Salt & pepper
WHAT TO DO

  • Peel and cut the carrots into thin matchsticks
  • Cook it in boiling water for 4-5 minutes
  • Drain the water and set the carrots aside to cool
  • Dry roast the sesame seeds in a pan till golden
  • In a bowl, whisk together the sesame oil, lemon juice, honey, salt and pepper
  • Pour this dressing over the carrots
  • Add the mint leaves, raisins and half of the sesame seeds and mix well
  • Garnish with the remaining sesame seeds 
  • Enjoy!

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This is my entry for the Cooking from Cookbook Challenge hosted by Srivalli.

Bobota / Simple Cornbread

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The second dish for the Greek theme is a simple cornbread. While I am not a huge fan of sweet breads, this one has the magic word in it – ‘orange juice’. Anything with orange juice works wonders for me and I immediately picked this dish. It is a quick bread and so the time taken for prep is minimal and the result is a wonderful cornbread with a subtle orange flavour.

The recipe was for a 9″ pie pan but I halved it and I didn’t have a smaller pie pan. So I baked them in mini tart tins which were waiting quite a while to be inaugurated. So I got really cute little cornbreads which were so delectable.

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Makes 7-8 mini cornbreads

Recipe adapted from here

WHAT WE NEED

Cornmeal             1 cup

Baking powder   1/2 tsp heaped

Sugar                     2 tbsp

Orange juice        4 tbsp

Water                    4 tbsp

Olive oil                2 tbsp
WHAT TO DO

  • Preheat the oven to 175C
  • Mix the cornmeal, sugar and baking powder in a bowl
  • Mix the water, orange juice and olive oil in another bowl
  • Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix well to form a batter
  • Pour into the mini tart tins till it is 3/4 full
  • Bake for 30 minutes or till the toothpick inserted comes out clean
  • Cool for 10 minutes
  • Serve warm or at room temperature 
  • Enjoy!

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This is my post for the Blogging Marathon under the theme, Greek dishes.

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Eliopsoma / Olive Breadsticks

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This week’s theme is Greek dishes and I have to make three dishes. But I was so spoilt for choice that picking only three was a tough job. But I couldn’t miss out on the breads and so I picked two breads and a salad for this week. The first is this delicious olive breadstick which is simple to bake and tastes absolutely amazing.

Ideally you would need to twist the dough a little before baking but I missed that because I was in a hurry to go somewhere and so the shapes are not ideal but it doesn’t have much of an impact on the taste or texture of the crumb. So mine tourned out more like a roll and less like breadsticks but all’s well that tastes well. Right?

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Makes 10 bread sticks

Recipe from here

WHAT WE NEED

All purpose flour                       200 gms

Whole wheat flour                       50 gms

Water                                            180 gms

Instant yeast                                     5 gms

Salt                                                      5 gms

Olive oil                                              1 tbsp

Black olives, pitted & chopped   120 gms

Dried thyme                                        1 tsp
WHAT TO DO

  • Mix the flours, yeast and salt in a bowl
  • Add the water and olive oil
  • Knead for 5-7 minutes till it is a wet soft dough
  • Add the olives and thyme and mix well to incorporate them in the dough
  • Place them in a greased bowl till the dough triples in size. It should take around 1- 1 1/2 hours
  • Take out the dough and divide into 10 equal parts
  • Roll each part of the dough and twist to form a stick
  • Place on a greased baking tray, cover and set aside for 30 minutes
  • Preheat the oven at 220C
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes or till the top of the bread stick is nicely brown
  • Cool slightly on a wire rack
  • Serve warm
  • Enjoy!

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This is my post for the Blogging Marathon under the theme, Greek dishes.

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Saffron Buns

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I have to confess. This is part this theme and part a desperate attempt to somehow make it fit into the theme because I couldn’t do it last month as part of the mega marathon. Aren’t they cute? These are Swedish saffron buns and they are so aromatic. As I was telling you yesterday, I have this major fear of forgetting ingredients and letting them go waste. Last year my parents visited Kashmir and my mom went slightly overboard in buying saffron. When I say slightly, I mean ‘I have to gift this to every person of my acquaintance so let me buy the entire supply from the valley’ level overboard. And to her credit she did gift it to almost every person of her acquaintance (you should be friends with my mom, it is so beneficial) but she did prepare for contingencies which left her with quite a few extra cute boxes of saffron. Naturally, I was part inheritor of those boxes and so now I have around 3 boxes of saffron sitting in my fridge and staring at me every time I open it. While I know saffron doesn’t spoil easily, I am still kinda sorta uncomfortable looking at them all the time. So for the past one years, the husband has been wondering as to why all the sweet dishes in the house are orange in colour and I am yet to get through box one. 

Hence you can imagine how insanely happy I was to spot a bread recipe with saffron. I intend making his a weekl dish at home and thankfully the daughter loved it. Yay! And I am sure the husband will like it once he has them. Yes, I had them for lunch, don’t judge me. Anyway this recipe is from Gayathri’s blog and so egg free. Yum is the word.

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Makes 6 pieces

Recipe adapted from here

WHAT WE NEED

Saffron                        a pinch

Hot water                    1 tbsp

All purpose flour       1 1/2 cups

Sugar                            2 tbsp

Instant yeast               1 1/2 tsp

Oil                                  2 tbsp

Curds                             3 tbsp

Milk                                1/4 cup + for wash

Raisins                           12

WHAT TO DO

  • Add the saffron strands to the hot water and set aside
  • Mix the flour, sugar and yeast in a large bowl
  • Add the milk, curds and oil to the bowl
  • Add the saffron water and mix well
  • Knead for 10-12 minutes till you get a soft pliant dough
  • Cover and set aside in a greased bowl till the dough doubles in volume
  • Punch down the dough and divide it into 6 parts
  • Roll each part into a 12″ rope and twist the ends to form the ‘S’ shape
  • Transfer all the 6 portions of the dough to a greased baking tray
  • Keep a raisin at the two ends of the ‘S’ for each portion
  • Set aside for 20-25 minutes
  • Preheat the oven to 200C
  • Brush the dough with milk just before baking
  • Bake for 20 minutes or till the top is nicely brown
  • Let it cool for 10 minutes
  • Enjoy with some jam or butter or both!

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This is my post for the Blogging Marathon under the theme ‘Picnic Dishes’.

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Eggless Rose Petal Jam & Cardamom Muffins

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We had a fabulous BM meet in February when around a dozen of us met in Delhi and had an absolute blast. I met some of my fellow marathoners for the first time and we got along like a house on fire. During that trip, we visited a spice market and picked up some spices and condiments, one of which was dried rose petals. Now, when I have something on hand, I am always eager to finish it up because I am perennially worried about forgetting about stuff and remembering only when it is too late. Most of my nightmares are about discovering a long lost ingredient after it’s expiry. 

So I was looking for recipes using dried rose petals and I landed on this rose petal jam / gulkand muffin recipe. It was so simple that I wanted to make it immediately. It had oats flour, cardamom an pistachios which convinced me of its flavour and aroma. But the recipe had egg and I was out of eggs. So I replaced that with some curds and the result was a soft, aromatic and delicious muffin. The daughter and husband gobbled up quite a few which is the intended goal anyway. 

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Makes 12 medium sized muffins

Recipe adapted from here

WHAT WE NEED

All purpose flour             1/2 cup

Quick cooking oats          1/2 cup

Sugar                                  5-6 tbsp

Cardamom powder         1 tsp

Baking powder                1/2 tsp

Baking soda                      1/4 tsp heaped

Salt                                      1/4 tsp

Milk                                     1/2 cup

Canola oil                            2 tbsp

Curds                                   1/4 cup

Pistachios, chopped          3-4 tbsp

Rose petal jam / Gulkand 3 tbsp

Dried rose petals (optional)  to sprinkle               

WHAT TO DO

  • Preheat the oven to 175C
  • Line a muffin tray with muffin cup liners
  • Powder the oats finely in a blender 
  • Mix all the dry ingredients, all purpose flour, oats flour, sugar, cardamom powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt in a bowl
  • Mix the milk, curds and oil in another bowl
  • Mix the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients to form a batter
  • Add the chopped pistachios and rose petal jam and mix to combine
  • Pour into muffin cups up to 3/4 full
  • Sprinkle few dried rose petals on top
  • Bake for 20 minutes or till a toothpick inserted comes out clean
  • Allow it to cool for 15 minutes
  • Enjoy!

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This is my post for the Blogging Marathon under the theme, Picnic dishes’.

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Za’atar Pull Apart Bread

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Today is the final day of this Mega Marathon. It has been an awesome one month with the frangrance of yeast wafting around my kitchen and sometime my entire house. It has been a month of constantly cleaning the mixing bowl and measuring cups to start the bread for the next alphabet. I was tempted to go with Zopf for this last bread of the month but the pull apart bread has been on my to-bake list for ever now. So I did some realignment and adjustment and finally came up with zaatar pull apart bread.

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I first tried tweaking another recipe and wanted to make a savory monkey bread type of pull apart in which I stuffed zaatar flavoured paneer. The taste was amazing but the pull apart kind of went fell apart. The individual rolls tasted great but due to all the butter coating the dough they simply did not stick to each other and literally fell apart. So I abandoned that and then found this recipe in which the filling was simply zaatar and olive oil. That sounded more manageable and so I went ahead with it. But I did not want to take any more risks and so I topped the dough with cheese just before going in to bake so that it holds the various pieces of dough together. In doing that I had to sacrifice the look of the bread and the rolls are not individually visible in the bread. Maybe I am better next time.

Country – England

Makes one 10″ loaf

Recipe adapted from here

WHAT WE NEED

For the dough

All purpose flour             1 1/2 cups

Instant yeast                     1 tsp

Sugar                                  1 tsp

Olive oil                             1 1/2 tsp

Salt                                      1 tsp

Curds                                  1/4 cup

Milk                                     4-5 tbsp

For the filling

Zaatar spice mix               5-6 tbsp

Olive oil                              5 tbsp

Milk for glaze                    2 tbsp

Mozzarella cheese           2 tbsp (optional)

WHAT TO DO

  • Mix all the ingredients for the dough and knead well for 8-10 minutes till the dough becomes soft and pliant
  • Set aside in a covered greased bowl till the dough doubled in volume
  • Mix the zaatar spice and olive oil in a bowl and set aside
  • Once the dough has doubled, divide it into 4 quarters
  • Divide each quarter further into 4 pieces
  • Roll out 1 of the 4 pieces into a 6″ diameter circle
  • Apply the zaatar and olive oil mix on the circle
  • Roll out the next piece and place it on the first piece and apply the zaatar mix on it
  • Repeat the process for the other 2 pieces and you will have a stack of 4 circles with zaatar mix in between all of them
  • Roll up the 4 circles together into a log and pinch the ends together to seal

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  • Repeat the process for each of the other 3 quarters of dough
  • You will have 4 logs of dough
  • Cut each log into 4-5 pieces making diagnol cuts like a ‘V’
  • Grease a 10″ round pan
  • Place all the cut pieces in the round pan with the cut side facing up
  • Cover and set it aside for an hour to increase in size

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  • Preheat the oven to 200C
  • Brush the top of the dough with milk or egg wash
  • Sprinkle the cheese on top
  • Bake for 10 minutes
  • Reduce the temperature to 190C and bake for 15-20 minutes or till the bread is nicely brown
  • Cool in the pan for 5 minutes and demould the bread and cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack
  • Serve warm
  • Enjoy!

 

This is my post for the Mega Marathon under the letter ‘Z’.

 

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 75