I am a bread snob. It all started when I made my first loaf of bread. I realised that making bread can be really easy or really tough. Whatever techniques that I choose to use, the result is (almost) the same–I got myself a beautifully baked, chewy and delicious loaf of bread.

Bread, when made without preservative, goes stale really fast–the next day to be exact. And this also means how much preservatives are added to our supermarket’s bread to extend its shelf life. I do admit that to make a good loaf of bread takes time, effort and perhaps techniques. However once you have tasted your fruit of labour, you will not go back (I think, I hope).

Maneesh is currently my favourite bread to make. You do not have to knead for a long time and it uses one of my favourite condiments–za’atar. Za’atar is a type of herb that is related to the oregano and thyme family. It is also the name for a blend of herb and spice which made up of thyme, sumac, sesame seeds and so on. In my case, I am using the latter. Maneesh is a great accompaniment to dips such as baba ganoush, labneh, and hummus. Of course, it is delicious on its own.

Maneesh
(Adapted from Paul Hollywood’s How to Bake)
If you are not making maneesh for a big group, you can easily half the recipe. Like most bread, this is best eaten on the day it is made.

Ingredients
1)       500g strong white bread flour
2)       10g salt
3)       25g caster sugar
4)       10g instant yeast
5)       320ml tepid water (room temperature)
6)       3 tablespoons za’atar
7)       Olive oil

Methods
-            In a large-sized bowl or stand mixer bowl, add in the flour. Place salt and sugar at one end of the bowl and the yeast at the other end. If the yeast comes in contact with the salt, it will lose its ability to be “activated”.
-            Add in ¾ of the water, and using either your hands or stand mixer (dough hook, medium speed) and start mixing. What you want to achieve is a soft dough. Hence you may or may not need to use all the water. The side of the bowl should be clean and the dough should be soft and not shaggy.
-            If you are using a stand mixer, lightly coat the side of the bowl with olive oil. On medium speed (dough hook), work the dough for about 10 minutes until you get a soft and smooth skin. If you are using your hands, oil your work surface and knead the dough for around 10-15 minutes until you get a soft and smooth skin. Once you achieve the right texture, place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, and cover and let it proof for at least 1 hour.
-            Line 3-4 baking trays with parchment paper or silicone pat.
-            Remove the dough from the bowl and place it on a lightly oiled work surface. Knead the dough for a minute to knock all the air. Once done, divide the dough into 3 equal pieces, and roll each into a large circle around 30cm in diameter. You can also divide the dough into 10 equal pieces and roll each piece into a circle. If you are not good at dividing the dough, use a scale (I do! Oh I also standby a calculator too.).
-            Place the rolled flat dough onto the baking trays, and cover them with cling wrap and proof for about 20 minutes. While the dough is proofing, preheat you oven to 230oC and make the topping for the bread. In a small bowl, mix the za’atar with enough olive oil to make a thick paste.
-            Once the dough is proofed, lightly brush each piece with olive oil. Using your hands, lightly spread the za’atar topping on each piece. Bake for 20-25 minutes minutes (For smaller pieces, bake for 15 minutes) or until golden brown.
-            Cool on a wire rack.