Msemen (Moroccan Flatbreads)
The Moroccan pan-fried flatbread known as msemen is usually eaten for breakfast and teatime. The process of flattening and rolling the dough might seem intimidating, but these layered breads are actually not complicated or very time-consuming to make. Serve them warm or at room temperature with anything you fancy. To enjoy them sweet, eat with melted butter and honey, or go the savory route with ricotta and olive oil.
- Serves: 9 persons
- 1cup plus 3 tablespoons/150 grams all-purpose flour
- ¾cup plus 1 tablespoon/150 grams semolina flour, plus more for the dough
- ½teaspoon fine sea salt
- 5ounces/140 milliliters warm water (about 1/2 cup), plus more if needed
- 4tablespoons vegetable oil, such as sunflower or canola, plus more for greasing
- 2tablespoons/30 grams unsalted butter, melted
Step 1Make the dough: Place the flours, salt, warm water and 2 tablespoons oil in a large bowl. Use your hands to mix and form a soft, smooth dough. If the mixture is too dry, gradually add a couple tablespoons of warm water. If it’s too sticky, gradually add teaspoons of semolina flour. Once your dough is soft and smooth, lightly dust a work surface with semolina flour and knead the dough for about 8 minutes, until supple and elastic.
Step 2Lightly grease a sheet pan with oil. Divide the dough into 9 equal pieces and form each into a ball. Place the balls on the sheet pan and use your hands or a brush to lightly rub the balls with oil, cover with plastic wrap and let rest in a warm place for 30 minutes.
Step 3In a small bowl, combine the remaining 2 tablespoons vegetable oil and melted butter. Generously oil your work surface and place a ball of dough on it. Flatten the ball lightly and spoon about 1/2 teaspoon butter mixture on top. Using your hands, flatten the dough as thin as you can to make an 8- to 10-inch circle and lightly sprinkle some semolina flour over the dough.
Step 4Fold the msemen: Fold one-third of the top and bottom of the dough towards the center as you would to fold a letter, then fold one-third of the dough from the left and right sides towards the center to make about a 2 1/2 to 3 1/2-inch square. Place the folded msemen on the oiled work surface and cover with a clean cloth or plastic wrap. Repeat until you have folded all the dough balls, adding more oil to your work surface as necessary.
Step 5Lightly oil and heat a griddle or a nonstick pan over medium-high. Transfer a folded msemen to the work surface, spoon another 1/2 teaspoon of the butter mixture on top and flatten it using your hands to make a 6-inch square. Gently place the flattened msemen on the warm pan and cook, turning several times and adjusting the heat and adding more oil to the pan as necessary, until golden and starting to puff, 60 to 90 seconds. Transfer to a plate and cover with a clean towel to keep warm. Repeat with the remaining msemen. Serve warm or at room temperature.