Matlouh with olives(Moroccan semolina bread)

Mary, my next-door neighbor, dropped in with a panicked look on her face: Apparently all the best bakeries in Dallas had run out of scones, and what was she to do regarding her party at 6 AM in the morning (to watch the royals get married); a quick jaunt to joyofbaking.com and a little while later, we had a fresh batch of scones coming out of the oven. Crisis averted.

Well, I am sharing a recipe for matlouh today, even if most of you will be having tea and scones. I tasted matlouh when my daughter’s friend Mariam came over, saying her mom bakes a loaf every day. After eating most of it within the hour, the only solution that became apparent was that I had to make it at home too.

It is super easy!!!

Added some zaatar to one loaf, and black olives to the other. Of course, anything can be added, or it can be simply wonderful plain. If you like chewy bread, you will love this bread. Some people make it only with semolina flour or  with  bread flour; this is a compromise.

INGREDIENTS: 4 medium loaves

  • 1 1/2 cups or 300 g unbleached bread flour
  • 1 1/2 cups or 300 g. semolina flour (fine)
  • 2 Tablespoons dry yeast
  • 1 Teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil (more to brush on the loaves if desired)
  • 1 Teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup black olives (seeded and halved)
  • warm water, as needed (at least one cup)

METHOD:

  1. Place the semolina and bread flour with the salt in the bowl of a food processor (or mixer); combine for a few seconds until the flours are well-mixed. Place the yeast, sugar and 1/2 cup of warm water in a small jug and let the yeast proof in an enclosed place (I put mine in the microwave) for 10 minutes; as soon as the yeast bubbles up, transfer to the flours, add the olive oil and start the machine running; add more water gradually, about 1/2 cup to 1 cup more; run the machine until the dough leaves the sides of the bowl and is firm and compact and moist, even a bit sticky, adding water only as needed.
  2. Transfer the dough to a work surface on which semolina flour is sprinkled all around. Pat the dough, adding the olives and zaatar or whatever else you decide to flavor the bread with. Cut the dough in several rolls, form into neat balls and cover with a towel to rise (about one hour) until doubled in size.
  3. When the rolls have risen, deflate them a bit and shape them into round loaves of bread and place them on a cookie sheet lined with baking paper or more semolina. Let the rolls rest for 30 minutes or so.
  4. Preheat the oven to 375F; brush the breads with a little olive oil if desired and bake for about 20 minutes until they are firm and dry on the outside. Let the breads cool and serve.

NOTE: I have looked at several matlouh videos on youtube to figure out how to make this bread; my method is just the simplest and fastest I could come up with. Some people prefer to make it by hand.

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19 Comments

  1. Posted April 28, 2011 at 11:23 pm | Permalink

    You never stop amazing me with recipes and dishes I have never even heard of! Beautiful work!

  2. Posted April 29, 2011 at 1:32 am | Permalink

    I have never really baked with semolina and I am glad to find a perfect recipe to try- your pictures are really enticing!

  3. Posted April 29, 2011 at 1:46 am | Permalink

    I’m a fairly lazy cook and any recipe that incorporates use of a labour saving gadget will always be attractive to me – especially one that has an option to add zaatar, too! Yum.

  4. Posted April 29, 2011 at 2:06 am | Permalink

    ¨Those are great breads! I love this speciality.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  5. Posted April 29, 2011 at 3:57 am | Permalink

    Tes petits pains accompagneront vraisemblablement bon nombre de mes pique-niques estivaux !
    Bisous
    Hélène

  6. Angel of the North
    Posted April 29, 2011 at 4:00 am | Permalink

    Scones in Scotland aren’t anything like biscuits. Some people down south make versions with baking powder and sometimews egg to bind, but the true Scottish scone is a thing of wonder: Truly Scottish Cheese scones.
    This quantity can be doubled for a family/tea party bake, because it only gives about 7 medium scones..
    8 oz plain flour
    1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
    2 tsp cream of tartar
    1 ½ oz chilled hard/block margarine in small cubes
    3 oz coarsely grated mature Cheddar (I use Collier’s) or a mix of sharp cheese and Parmesan
    ¼ pt cold skimmed milk.

    Lightly grease and flour a baking sheet
    Preheat oven to Gas mark 8/230 C – middle shelf.
    Sieve the flour with the bicarb and tartar.
    Rub in the marge lightly and quickly, lifting the bits as if making pastry.
    Stir in the grated cheese.
    Make well in centre, pour in milk and mix to a dough by cutting through lightly with a knife blade.
    Flour a board/surface and a rolling pin.
    Roll out quickly and lightly to about 1”/2 ½ cm thick.
    Cut out with a medium size cutter and place on the greased baking sheet.
    Gather bits together lightly with floured fingers and reroll lightly, then cut out more.
    Brush tops lightly with beaten egg or milk and sprinkle with grated Parmesan/Cheddar/sesame seeds/whatever.
    Bake 10-12min on middle shelf or shelf above middle. Check after 9 min.

    Variations:
    Sweet scones – leave out the cheese and add 1 oz golden caster sugar to basic mix. (I usually leave this out, because it spoils the texture and gets in the way of the flavour of the dried fruit or jam.) Dried fruit such as sultanas, sour cherries, chopped apricots, finely chopped nuts or whatever can be added.
    Savoury: Omit the cheese and add chopped fresh herbs. NEVER add chopped fresh tomato because the texture comes out really vile.
    Cooked dry cure bacon bits are nice, so is crumbled medium strength blue cheese..

    Enjoy!

  7. Posted April 29, 2011 at 4:28 am | Permalink

    Wat a wonderful looking bread, very tempting..

  8. Posted April 29, 2011 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    These look fantastic — my mouth is watering a little at the thought of biting into one of those juicy olives!

  9. Posted April 29, 2011 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    I’ve never heard of this type of bread but it sure looks very appealing! I think I am one of the few people who didnt’t watch the royal wedding lol.

  10. Posted April 29, 2011 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    Now this I have had, and oh how I loved it…looks amazing! And nice save on the scone issue :)

  11. Posted April 29, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    The chewy texture sounds great, and I love the big olives in the middle! I didn’t even think of today being a good excuse to make scones. Guess we’ll have to have scones while watching the wedding re-play over the weekend!

  12. Posted April 29, 2011 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

    I think I would love it with olives too. I like your version with half semolina and half regular flour. Sounds delicious!

    How nice that you were able to come to your neighbor’s rescue :)

  13. Posted April 30, 2011 at 12:58 am | Permalink

    Funnily enough I tried Madhur Jaffrey’s version of this yesterday and the dough didn’t rise at all – wish I had seen yours first ! I was wondering if my semolina was too coarse (I used semoule de blé fine) but now I’m thinking the problem with her recipe was only 1 tsp of flour for about the same amount of flour whereas you used 2 tbs. I will try the zaatar version as I bought a big bag of that flavouring and I’m putting it in everything at the moment.

  14. Posted April 30, 2011 at 3:36 am | Permalink

    I love that type of bread. Your recipe looks great!

  15. Joumana
    Posted May 1, 2011 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

    @Angel of the North: Thanks a bunch for a wonderful and authentic recipe for scones! I will make them asap!

  16. Posted May 2, 2011 at 12:27 am | Permalink

    De délicieux petits pains originaux et aux douces saveurs d’olives

  17. Posted May 2, 2011 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

    Waking up that early to watch the wedding is serious dedication! I made it just for watching the finals of America’s cup in Australia, one year. I was sleeping and dreaming of sailing and waves.
    I’d rather dedicate my efforts to making these delicious looking breads.

  18. K
    Posted February 18, 2013 at 4:53 am | Permalink

    Sorry, but this is not Moroccan at all :)
    It’s Algerian.

  19. Joumana
    Posted February 18, 2013 at 5:55 am | Permalink

    @K: Thanks for the clarification!

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