Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Bread Baking Buddies Tunisian Spicy Breads

It's the Bread Baking Babes time again and our super host Natashya chose these wonderful filled little breads from Tunisia. The filling is spicy and the dough is made out of durum wheat flour, we loved them so much that I already made them twice !

Sorry Natashya looking for the links I've just found out I'm late.. but this recipe is so great I'll post it anyway !
Please visit Natashya here

Tunisian Spicy Breads
from Savory Baking from the Mediterranean by Anissa Helou

These are a Tunisian spin on r'ghayefs. Here the dough is made entirely with semolina flour and enriched with oil and egg, and the filling is enclosed between two circles of dough. The breads are usually pan-fried, but I prefer to bake them. Although the amount of harissa and cayenne pepper in the filling may seem excessive, the heat of the spices is tempered by the bread casing. The filling, which is called chakchouka, may also be served on its own as a salad or a dip. Harissa*, made by grinding chili peppers, garlic, and caraway seeds, is widely available in Middle Eastern markets and in some supermarkets.

*or feel free to make your own harissa! There are plenty of recipes online.

Makes 20-22 small breads


For the dough
3 1/3 tsp (1 1/2 pkg) (16.5 ml) active dry yeast
3 1/2 cups (828 ml) fine semolina or semolina flour
1 1/2 (7.5 ml) tsp fine kosher salt or sea salt
1 1/2 Tbsp (22 ml) extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for brushing the breads
1 whole egg
All purpose flour for kneading and shaping

For the filling
3 Tbsp (45 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 medium tomatoes, finely chopped (about 1 heaping cup) (250+ ml)
1 medium bell pepper, cored, seeded, and finely chopped (about 3/4 cup) (178 ml approx) (red is nice)
2 small chili peppers, such as serranos, seeded and finely chopped
1 tsp (5 ml) harissa
1/2 (2.5 ml) teaspoon cayenne pepper
Fine kosher salt or sea salt


1. Dissolve the yeast in 1/4 cup (60 ml) warm water and stir until creamy.

2. Combine the semolina and salt in a large bowl and make a well in the center. Add the 1 1/2 Tbsps (22 ml) olive oil and the egg to the well. Gradually add the yeast and 2/3 cup plus 2 Tbsps (188 ml total) warm water, bringing in the semolina as you go along. Knead until you have a rough ball of dough.

3. Remove the dough to a lightly floured work surface. Knead for 3 minutes. Invert the bowl over the dough and let rest for 15 minutes. Knead for about 2 to 3 minutes more. Cover with a damp kitchen towel and let rest while the filling is prepared.

4. Make the filling: Heat the oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until golden. Add the tomatoes, chopped peppers, harissa, and cayenne. Season with salt to taste and cook, stirring occasionally, until the bell pepper is soft and the sauce is very thick. Remove from the heat and set aside.

5. Divide the dough into two pieces and shape each piece into a ball. Place on a lightly floured work surface, cover with plastic wrap, and let rest for 15 minutes.

6. Preheat the oven to 400F (205C). Roll out one ball of dough until it is 1/4 inch (0.6 cm) thick. Using a 3 1/2 inch (8.9 cm approx) pastry cutter, cut out as many circles of dough as possible and set aside. Briefly knead the extra dough together, and place under the plastic wrap, next to the other ball of dough. Turn the circles over and place 1 tsp (5 ml) of filling in the middle of half of the circles. Cover with the remaining plain circles and press on the edges to seal. Flatten the breads slightly by hand and pinch the edges to flatten further and seal well. Brush with olive oil on both sides and transfer to a non-stick baking sheet, or to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or silicone pastry mat. Cover with a damp kitchen towel. continue making the breads until the dough, including the scraps, is used up.

7. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until lightly crisp and golden. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Serve warm.
*Mine baked longer, just keep an eye out for the colour and texture you want.

Note: To pan-fry the breads, heat a little oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, place as many breads as will fit in the pan, brush the tops with olive oil, and cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until golden on the bottom, pressing on the breads if they puff up. Turn the breads over, brush the cooked bottoms with oil, and cook for 3 minutes more, or until golden all over. Serve immediately.