morocco's bread baking traditions & recipes

Morocco's Bread Baking Traditions & Recipes

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Cuisine Traditions & Recipes > Morocco's Bread Baking Traditions & Recipes

Travel to Morocco & Discover Moroccan Breadbaking Traditions & Recipes
Akin to Spain, bread in Morocco is a key component of any Moroccan diet. There is an ancient proverb, “manage with bread and butter until God sends honey”. This ancient saying affirms that there is availability of bread to all groups in Morocco. For example, the Berbers of the Rif Mountains sustained themselves with bread made from Barely. While present times afford more variety in Moroccan’s diets and bread can be supplemented with potatoes, tomatoes, pepper, fruit or nuts, bread still plays an important role in the lives of Moroccans. 
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In cities, Moroccans can be spotted daily in the early parts of the morning carrying bags of assorted breads that they picked up at the market. In villages women can be found baking bread from scratch in earthen ovens. Traditionally, Moroccans eat three meals a day, with lunchtime remaining the most important as all family members still come home from school or work to eat together. At each of these meals, one person is designated to distribute the bread.
Historically, bread has played such an important role in the life of Moroccans. Until the 1980’s, almost all Moroccan families made their own bread. The Moroccan child wearing a padded hat would walk to the Fran, carrying a gssa or a red pan filled with yeast on top of their heads. Frans, strategically located community ovens, were found in every neighborhood, and baked dozens of loafs at once. These Frans can still be found and are utilized by the Fassis (local people) in the old Medina of Fes. As there were so many breads baking together, anything placed in the oven was marked with a rubber stamp. Today, a faster paced lifestyle in Morocco and an increasing number of households having two working parents has resulted in less use of the Fran.
Regardless, if you find yourself being one of the lucky visitors to receive a dinner invitation from a native Moroccan, rest assured that the bread you try will be delicious.
Enter any souk during the morning (a Moroccan shopping street in the medina) and you will surely feel a longing to come face to face with the mouthwatering aromas traveling through the air and playing flirtatiously with your sense of smell.  
Upon entering a bakery, you will be confronted with many choices of breads usually made from coarse barely, flour, wheat, sorghum, or millet. The bread bakers are usually women who are expert in kneading the dough until it is evenly distributed and enriched with herbs, spices, proteins, and other goodies. 
The breads come in many shapes, sizes, and forms. Some are leavened and others are flat and thin, being shaped into long and crispy donuts or Therfist -unleavened bread in sheets.
The most common breads are heavy, spicy, soft crusted and highly absorbent as they are meant to be dipped into a Tajine or Tagine, a traditional stew or sauce. Examples of such breads include Tagella, a special bread made by the Tuaregs of the Sahara or ‘Blue people’. The bread is baked on hot sand. Also popular is Khboz Milka-a flattened circular dough cooked until brown on both sides.
If you would like to enjoy an everyday bread, try your hand at Batbout. This tasty bread, best described as a soft chewy bagel or a thick pita, is eaten everyday expect during Ramadan.
Batbout M’Khmer Bread Recipe (makes 3 flatbreads)
Ingredients:
-300g Plain white flour
-100g Fine semolina (Durum Flour/Semolina Di Grano Duro)
-1 1/4 Tsps salt
-1 Package (7g) Dried yeast
-300-320ml Water, lukewarm (not hot)
Method:
1. Sprinkle the yeast into the water in a bowl.
2. Stir to dissolve and leave for 5 minutes, until it becomes frothy.
3. In a big bowl, mix together the flour, semolina and salt.
4. Make a well in the centre and pour in the yeast mixture.
5. Stir in the flour to form a stiff dough.
6. Knead for 8-10 minutes.
7. Divide the dough into 3 equal-sized pieces.
8. On a lightly floured (with Durum Flour) surface, roll out each piece to form a round 1cm (1/2 inch) thick.
9. Let rise, covered with a tea towel, for about 1 1/2 - 2 hours, until doubled in size.
10. Heat a frying pan or a griddle over medium heat, until very hot.
11. Place one of the dough rounds in the hot pan and cook on both sides until golden brown.
12. Repeat with the remaining dough rounds.
13. Let cool on a wire rack.
Remarks:
The dough should not be too sticky.
Add more water if it's too dry or more flour if it is too wet.
If you wish, you can add a little oil in the pan. It is not necessary, though.
On a final note, don’t be shy to eat with your hands when traveling in Morocco. As its custom to eat with your fingers in Morocco, bread is often used as a spoon for stirring and scooping.
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