“T” is for Thyme Bread

I learned to bake bread as a teenager when I worked at a small local bakery in Pennsylvania. That job opened my eyes to the world of baking: not only bread, but cookies, pies, cakes, brownies, and other yummy treats too. My love of baking grows every year as I experiment with new recipes and expand my favorites list.

This recipe for Thyme Bread was printed in the food section of my newspaper. I tucked it away in my recipe box with the intent of making it soon. Well, I forgot about the recipe until today, a good four years later! Ooooooops! Maybe that saying “The best things come to those who wait” applies here, because this bread is incredible!!! The recipe yields four small flatbreads and two have already disappeared.

This flatbread is commonly eaten in Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan. I can see it pairing nicely with hummus, but it is traditionally eaten for breakfast with yogurt, tomatoes, and cucumbers. I snacked on mine plain, and then snacked on another… Part of the topping includes za’atar, a mixture of dried thyme, sumac, and sesame seeds. If you’ve never had za’atar, you are in for a treat! You can find za’atar at specialty stores and Middle Eastern markets. Or, you can order some online.

Thyme Bread

Adapted from “Mediterranean Street Food” by Anissa Helou

Ingredients for the dough:

1/4 cup warm water
1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
1/4 teaspoon dry sweetener (unrefined sugar works well)
1 3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, plus additional for kneading and rolling
2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Ingredients for the topping:

2 heaping Tablespoons za’atar
generous 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Directions:

1. Whisk yeast and sugar into water and set aside until foamy, about 5 minutes.
2. Combine flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the center and pour in the oil. Using your fingers, incorporate the oil into the flour.
3. Add the yeast mixture to the flour mixture and stir (or use your hand like I did) until the mixture comes together. Slowly add in another 1/4 cup of water. Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for a few minutes. Cover with an inverted bowl and let rest for 15 minutes.
4. Knead the dough, using as little flour as possible, until smooth and elastic. Shape into a ball, cover, and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size.
5. Meanwhile, whisk together za’atar and olive oil in a small bowl. Set aside.
6. Once your dough has risen, divide it equally into four pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, cover, and let rest for 15 minutes.
7. Heat heavy-bottomed skillet (cast iron works well, or use a non-stick pan) over medium heat. Preheat your oven broiler as well.
8. Using a rolling pin, flatten each ball into a disk about 1/8″ thick (mine were about 7″ in diameter). Dimple the top of the disk with your fingertips (to prevent topping from running off during cooking). Transfer disks, one at a time, to your heated skillet and spread with a 1/4 of the topping mixture. Cook until the bottom is crisp and golden, about 3 minutes. DO NOT FLIP!!!
9. Brown the surface under the broiler for about a minute (watch closely since oven broilers vary greatly).
10. Transfer to a cooling rack and repeat with remaining disks.
11. Serve hot or warm, with or without toppings/dips.