In Morocco bread is sacred, and its always treated with respect by all age groups, if anyone sees a piece of bread lying on the ground, He pick it up and kiss it and then put it some place where it will not be dirtied, moroccans believe that’s a bread’s piece is going to be a food for a birds or any animals grazing around.
A woman who wishes her bread to impart that special kind of God-given luck called in Moroccan Darija (El baraka) will send the first three leaves of the unleavened therfist to a Koranic scholar. And there is a tale in Morocco of a Negro woman imprisoned in the moon because she defiled a loaf.
The round, heavy-textured, spicy bread of Morocco is quite different from the flat, hollow discs that pass for “Arab bread” in the United States. Chewy, soft-crusted Moroccan bread is highly absorbent, ideal for dipping into the savory sauces of Tagines and as a kind of “fork” for conveying food when eating with one’s hands. Because it is left to rise only once it is extremely easy to make, and it is well worth the trouble if you are planning to serve Moroccan food. The custom at a Moroccan dinner is that only one person distributes the wedges cut from the round loaves; otherwise, there will be a quarrel at the table.
1 package active dry yeast
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
31/2 cups unbleached flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup lukewarm milk
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
1 tablespoon aniseed
Small and large mixing bowls
Electric mixer with dough hook (optional)
2 baking sheets
Working time: 35 minutes
Rising time: 11/2 to 2 hours
Baking time: 40 to 50 minutes
Makes: 2 six-inch round loaves
- Soften the yeast in 1/4 cup sugared lukewarm water. Let stand 2 minutes, then stir and set in a warm place until the yeast is bubbly and doubles in volume. Meanwhile, mix the flours with the salt in a large mixing bowl.
- Stir the bubbling yeast into the flour, then add the milk and enough lukewarm water to form a stiff dough. (Since flours differ in their ability to absorb moisture, no precise amount can be given.) Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead hard with closed fists, adding water if necessary. To knead, push the dough outward. (It will take anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes to knead this dough thoroughly and achieve a smooth, elastic consistency. If using an electric beater with a
dough hook, knead 7 to 8 minutes at slow speed.) During the final part of the kneading, add the spices. After the dough has been thoroughly kneaded, form into two balls and let stand 5 minutes on the board.
- Lightly grease a mixing bowl. Transfer the first ball of dough to the greased bowl and form into a cone shape by grasping the dough with one hand and rotating it against the sides of the bowl, held by the other hand. Turn out onto a baking sheet that has been sprinkled with cornmeal. Flatten the cone with the palm of the hand to form a flattened disc about 5 inches in diameter with a slightly raised center. Repeat with the second ball of dough. Cover loosely with a damp towel and let rise about 2 hours in a warm place. (To see if the bread has fully risen, poke your finger gently into the dough—the bread is ready for baking if the dough does not spring back.)
- Preheat the oven to 400°.
- Using a fork, prick the bread around the sides three or four times and place on the center shelf of the oven. Bake 12 minutes, then lower the heat to 300° and bake 30 to 40 minutes more. When done, the bread will sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Remove and let cool. Cut in wedges just before serving.