Za’atar and Cheese Crown Bread
I love baking, and playing around with dough recipes to make the perfect pastries is my idea of a good time. In this recipe I combine amazing cloudy dough with a tangy salty zaatar, cheese and olive filling in a beautiful presentation. A feast for the eye and the tongue.
Zaatar is a summer herb from the Oregano family, much like thyme. It is aromatic with a slight bitter taste, when mixed with some salty cheese and salty, sour olives.. you get an explosion of flavors. You won’t be able to stop at one piece.
- 5 cups flour
- 4 tablespoons powder milk
- 2-3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon yeast
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon dried za’atar
- Pinch of black pepper
- ½ cup yoghurt
- ½ cup olive oil
- 1 ½- 2 cups warm water
- 3 cups finely chopped za’atar leaves
- 1 cup chopped Nabulsi cheese (you can use feta if you prefer)
- ½ cup chopped green olives
- ½ cup chopped black olives
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- Start by making the dough. Mix the dry ingredients together, then add in the yoghurt and oil and gradually add in the warm water. Different kinds of flour absorb liquids differently, so start by adding one cup of water and see how it goes. Add little amounts as you go along. You want the dough to be soft but not sticky. You can totally knead this on your hand if you do not have an electric kneader mixer. Once it forms into a ball, drizzle some olive oil and cover the bowl and leave it to rest and rise.
- While the dough rests prepare the filling. The zaatar leaves must be washed, drained and left to dry. I suggest doing this step a day earlier or maybe ahead of time. Now finely chop the leaves for an even distribution throughout the bread. Likewise, chop the olives and cheese. If using feta cheese, crumble it on. You can use the food processor to chop the zaatar and olives if you feel like it. Now drizzle the olive oil. Zaatar leaves are pretty dry, so do not skimp on the olive oil.. the end result will be dry and that is the last thing you want.
- Once the dough has rested and risen, give it a punch to let the air out and divide into two sections. Keep one aside and work with the other. With a rolling pin, roll the dough out into a large rectangle and cover with the filling mix. You can change the mix if you can’t find zaatar or if you prefer something else. Maybe tapenade with some feta cheese, or sundried tomato. The dough is amazing that whatever you fill it with, it will turn out delicious.
- Roll the dough with the filling into a long log. Cut the log in half lengthwise, revealing the filling inside. Now intertwine the two halves as if you’re braiding and form a circle, to give the crown form. Check video for details. Set the bread aside to rise.
- Brush some milk or butter on the bread and bake in a 180* oven until golden on top and cooked all the way through.
- Take it out of the oven and drizzle some olive oil while it’s still hot to make it extra moist.
- Your whole house by now will have the heavenly aroma of hot bread and zaatar. Enjoy, it is crazy good.