Za’atar Bread

We let the dough for our za’atar -topped flatbread rise in the fridge to develop the best flavor and most even texture.

Za’atar Bread
MAKES one flatbread, serving 6 to 8 VEG
WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS Inspi red by mana’eesh , a round Arabic flatbread covered with a thick coating of za’atar and olive oil, we set out to develop a recipe for a finger-licking-good snack bread, great for dipping in yogurt sauces or eating on its own. Za’atar, used frequently in the eastern Mediterranean, is a blend of wild thyme, ground sumac (a tart, fruity spice), and sesame seeds. To showcase this delicious blend, we started by kneading together a simple dough from all-purpose flour, salt, yeast, water, sugar, and olive oil and stretching it across a baking sheet. The result was a spongy, cakey bread with a dense, cottony crumb—not what we were looking for. Swapping out the all-purpose flour for higher-protein bread flour helped us develop chew. And we let the dough rise for 24 hours in the refrigerator, which made for uniformly sized air bubbles and created more flavor. Coating the bottom of the pan with a generous amount of olive oil before baking essentially fried the bottom of the flatbread as it baked, and shifting the oven rack to the lower-middle position for baking created a crisp, golden base. It is important to use ice water in the dough to prevent it from overheating in the food processor. We recommend King Arthur brand bread flour. We prefer to use our homemade Za’atar , but you can substitute store-bought za’atar if you wish, though flavor can vary by brand.

3½ cups (19¼ ounces) bread flour
2½ teaspoons instant or rapid-rise yeast
2½ teaspoons sugar
1⅓ cups ice water
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
⅓ cup za’atar
Coarse sea salt

1. Pulse flour, yeast, and sugar in food processor until combined, about 5 pulses. With processor running, slowly add ice water and process until dough is just combined and no dry flour remains, about 10 seconds. Let dough rest for 10 minutes.
2. Add 2 tablespoons oil and salt to dough and process until dough forms satiny, sticky ball that clears sides of bowl, 30 to 60 seconds. Transfer dough to lightly floured counter and knead by hand to form smooth, round ball, about 30 seconds. Place dough seam side down in lightly greased large bowl or container, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 24 hours or up to 3 days.
3. Remove dough from refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour. Coat rimmed baking sheet with 2 tablespoons oil. Gently press down on dough to deflate any large gas pockets. Transfer dough to prepared sheet and, using your fingertips, press out to uniform thickness, taking care not to tear dough. (Dough may not fit snugly into corners.) Cover loosely with greased plastic and let dough rest for 1 hour.
4. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Using your fingertips, gently press dough into corners of sheet and dimple entire surface.
5. Combine remaining 6 tablespoons oil and za’atar in bowl. Using back of spoon, spread oil mixture in even layer on entire surface of dough to edge.
6. Bake until bottom crust is evenly browned and edges are crisp, 20 to 25 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through baking. Let bread cool in sheet for 10 minutes, then transfer to cutting board with spatula. Sprinkle with sea salt, slice, and serve warm.