Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Lebanese Mountain Bread – A Peak Flatbread Experience

As promised, here is my take on Lebanese Mountain Bread. There are so many reasons why I love this simple bread. There’s the unique texture, gorgeous appearance, and fun-to-make technique, but discovering this also helped me solve a culinary mystery from my childhood.

I used to spend a lot of time at my grandmothers house as a toddler, and every once an a while she would give me something called “Syrian bread,” which was made by a neighbor across the street. It was one of my earliest food memories, and at the time, probably my favorite thing to eat. It was just so much different than the sliced white bread, or crusty Italian bread I was used to eating.

However, the Syrian lady across the street must have been the only person in the area that knew how to make it, since, once she was gone, so was the bread. Over the years, I tried many versions, but I never did come across that exact same experience, and assumed it was lost to history, until I saw something online called Lebanese Mountain Bread, which looked remarkably similar.

After a few (dozen) experiments, I finally nailed it down, and was suddenly transported back to grandma’s kitchen. By the way, this might be as close to a time machine as we ever get. Fair warning, it may take a little practice stretching the dough over the bowl (or Lebanese mountain bread pillow), but your efforts will be richly rewarded, so I really do hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!

Ingredients for about 8 portions Lebanese Mountain Bread:
1/2 cup bread flour
1 teaspoon dry active yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup warm water
then add:
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt (or 1/2 teaspoon fine salt)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup bread flour, plus more as needed


Tomasz Blaszczyk said...

Would pasta machine work?

Derly said...

Cool chef, love your video! Always wanted to to take a stab working with dough. The streching it. Your dishes alway good easier to make. Very inspiring! Thxs chef!

shannon templeton said...

This looks awesome. Great job of demonstrating how it is done. I'm gonna do it. Thanks

Rick Smith said...

By 8 portions do you mean 8 pieces of bread? There would be nothing wrong with halving the recipe, right? Sorry, I'm new to making bread. How long does this bread keep? I'm assuming not very long.

Layal Halawy said...

Hey! I come from a village in the Lebanese mountains and completely approve of this recipe. What we usually do is make these for breakfast and top them with a paste made of Za'atar (a thyme-sesame-sumac powder) and olive oil and heat up the bread on a skillet til the paste adheres to the bread. You should make a Za'atar video, Chef John! It's an amazing spice-herb mix that pretty much goes with everything including the Labneh you made here earlier!

Lunatic Chef said...

Strange how things work out! I came here to get the pita bread recipe and found this on the front page! So guess what? Yup, I'll be prepping this tonight and trying it tomorrow with the chicken souvlaki I was going to have tonight! I have no bread flour so I will use all purpose and will be back to let you know how it turned out.
One thing I was wondering is how long these will keep for once cooked? Should I put them in a zip lock and leave them out or keep them in the fridge? Oh well, I'll figure it out over the next few days I guess.
Thanks for this one!

Linda Mackenzie said...

Drool!i can't wait to try this!

Sean said...

These look awesome! Sometimes when I make pitas a little thin they come out like this by accident. Next time I will go for broke and get them as thin as possible.

I like the day in the fridge definitly helps the flavor.

I'm dreaming of this with my sourdough starter... finally got it down to a science to minimize effort at home to be able to keep it going forever.

Step 1 make a starter until it works well. (whole wheat for the starter, true wild starter no store yeast)
Step 2 make white flour flat bread with most of it.
Step 3 add a bunch of wheat flour to the remaining starter, so it's play-doh or even thicker, and only about a cup total.
step 3 throw in the fridge and forget about it for 1-2 weeks, or until next time.
step 4 take it out, add more flour and water to make thick pancake batter texture, maybe a half cup of each, leave on counter
step 5 wait 4-24 hours or whenever you are planning to make bread
step 6 return to step 2.......

J Fields said...

Chef John, looking forward to making this; it looks absolutely fantastic. My only wish (like in Food Wishes) is that I could find a "print" button in order to properly print out the recipe, here, at home. Just my suggestion; thanks for all the great recipes and instruction.

Jacob Minihan said...

This looks great, definitely going to give it a try!

The recipe is quite similar to how I do pizza dough, but here you don't add all the flour at the start, giving you a 'wet' rise, and then adding the rest later. What does this do for the dough? Does it end up making it more stretchy/elastic?


John Jackson said...

chef john can you make butter chicken, because this bread is butterin me up so much, i'm about to checkin the kitchen if we have the ingredients to make it

Juniar Tjoeng said...

Hi Chef John!
This looks delicious and healthy! I was wondering how long does the dough store for in the fridge?

Aron Red said...

Thank you, looks great. Can i prepare dough and freeze it and use as needed?

Emma Dupont said...

Yes, thank you Chef John. This is on the list of things I need to make!

BluefootedBooby12 said...

Hi Chef John!

That mountain bread really does look delicious. I'm having some trouble making this at home though, because I'm swiss and we don't use volumes for measurement, we use weight. Actually I think the whole of Europe does. Anyway. Converting all the ingredients with their relative volumes into grams is a drag, since i have to change the calculator for every single ingredient. I know it doesn't sound like a big effort to calculate it, but sometimes, that's what stands between cooking a recipe and searching for another one for me.
So, would you maybe consider putting weights for solids and volumes for liquids into your blog as well? Metric would be perfect (and probably make more sense, because you americans are going to use volumes anyway), but it's fine if they are imperial, converting them into metric is way easier.

But that's just a suggestion, I'll happily continue converting cups and teaspoons and whatnot if I get to watch new vids from you!:)

FMK said...

I dont know how we found your videos, but every single one is amazing. I made mystery meat...excellent...shepherds cottage pie...excellent..and quite a few others I don't remember now. Today I am making your creamy pork stew. The taste is complex, and such an easy recipe! It could be served at a fancy celebration! Love your presentation, jokes too, ease of recipe, and gorgeous end results.

PS. Today I intended to make the pork chicken drumsticks...city chicken....but it is rainy and cold here in NY, so went with the stew instead! Bon Appetit!

Armymum said...

Happy Birthday!!! My bread is resting in the fridge for BLTS tommorow night!

Rob said...

Can I use a food processor for this, as I'm lazy, or does it effect the outcome?

thatgirl_whatshername said...

Chef John, i always love your recipes. Made a ton and they always come out great. Soon you should make the cured middle eastern sausage Sujuk(sp?). Ive had it a number of places made in house but cant find a great source to purchase at home.

inchrisin said...

Argh! I don't understand why, but every time I follow along with one of your bread videos I always need more water. My sponge didn't even need a whisk. I'm destined to fail at breads forever.

Rev. Fr. Robert Bower said...

Very tasty bread but I could not get the bread stretched out as thin as it was supposed to be. Mine turned out more like pita.
Any ideas on how to stretch the dough one handed? Stretching the dough one handed over the bowl did not work very well.


Simon said...

This is probably why weights would be better, but did you use a heaped cup measurement? One other good thing to note about recipes with weight is the salt. Not all kosher salts are the same, and in fact can be very different weights by volume.

Mmm, bread.

Fanatic Lychee said...

I had to substitute bread flour with rye flour (couldn't find bread flour in the grocery store). They turned out "okay" for my taste. For some reason, though, my final product is a lot less puffy, maybe there's something wrong with my yeast.

Bennett Fam said...

I have tried this twice and it is not coming out right. The dough is super rubbery and definitely not stretchable. I consider myself to be an advances bread maker, even with yeast breads. Are the ingredient amounts correct? Should I add more water because that looks like more than a half cup to me. Anyone else having this problem? Thank you!

Magda Och said...

Tomasz Pasta machine will not work. the dough is very delicate, machine will tear it apart. But the trick with the bowl is really easy! If you have one of those steel Ikea bowls it works like magic.

Rico S said...

@Bennett Fam

I found the ingredients worked well for me as stated. The only difference was that I used 2.5 tsp of Fresh Yeast as I had some in the fridge. They came out really well. I used half on the day following dough prep as suggested and then the other half one day after that. The second batch were significantly better, so perhaps a two day wait is optimal (although it could be that my stretching technique has improved).

Fantastic recipe.

Theodorus OFS said...

I found the longer you leave it in the fridge the better it becomes. I have gone as long as three days and it was amazing. I also found it works better for me if I don't use the entire cup of flour added after the sponge is ready - usually about a table spoon or little more. Awesome recipe

Bill Kenneke said...

Just did this but only 1/2 size. It's delicious! I'm a complete newb to bread making but I think I should not have halved the yeast... Plus kind of cool in my kitchen these days. Still, it's fun, easy and is delicious. I should have made the full recipe cuz it's gonna be gone... well, it is :-/

krippen.knittle said...

Admittedly, I did not read all of the other comments, so this may well be a repeat of information. If so, I apologize. The difference between bread flour and A/P flour is pronounced, and can make a huge difference, depending upon the recipe. Bread flour has a much higher protein content, so it develops more gluten, with kneading. Since baking, unlike cooking, is a science, every ingredient can be critical.

Unknown said...

I followed the directions faithfully with one exception - I could only find Red Star Instant Yeast at the store and that seemed to bubble up immediately and become very thick without any waiting at all. So I continued to follow the directions but did not see the doubling of size in step 2. My bread turned out OK though (not as good as yours I'm sure).

Unknown said...

Chef John, I love your recipes and hope you live forever, which is why, with some regret, I feel I must share this article with you:


Unknown said...

Hi it's me again, "unknown," - I tried making this again, used the same yeast, but this time whisked more thoroughly in the first step and used bread flour instead of all purpose. Everything came out perfectly this time, thanks!

James Arney said...

Chef John,
I greatly enjoy all of your recipes and videos.

I have two questions about the Lebanese Mountain Bread
1. About what diameter is the bread before you place it in the pan?
2. To what temperature should the pan be heated?

Thanks, this looks wonderful. Hope to try it soon.

James Arney said...

Chef John, I also find you recipes and videos to be wonderful.

I have two questions about the Lebanese Mountain Bread:

1. What is the diameter of the bread after it has stretched across the bowl?
2. To what temperature is the pan heated?

I can't wait to try this recipe