I had made some dough for flatbreads and the urge came to do something with zaatar. I just love the stuff. So much that I eat it every morning with olive oil and some form of bread. I figured instead of making a typical man’ooshe (flatbread), why not make tiny snails, to nibble on, that way I will prolong the pleasure. The method is easy: roll the dough as thin as possible into a rectangle shape. Spread the zaatar paste on it; roll it like a jelly roll and cut it in tiny snails. Place the snails side by side on a cookie sheet and, when you feel like it, bake them for about 20 minutes.
The zaatar smell that wafts out of the kitchen while they are baking is unbelievable! I think I got more pleasure out of smelling them than out of eating them! These snails are chewy, with a bit of crispiness on the edges (after all they are made out of bread dough). They are perfect for a get-together because they will pair up with any drink and they will be different.
FOR THE DOUGH, double batch, can freeze half or use for a pizza or pita breads.
- 3 1/3 cups mixture of white and whole-wheat unbleached flour (preferably organic)
- 1 1/2 teaspoon of dry yeast
- 2 teaspoons of sugar
- 1 teaspoon of salt
- 4 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 cup of lukewarm water
FOR THE SNAILS: Yield is about 40
- 1/2 cup of zaatar mix (make sure it is to your liking-see post on zaatar)
- 1/3 cup of olive oil (or more)
- Use a measuring cup and pour 1/2 cup of lukewarm water in, then add the yeast and sugar and stir to mix the two. Set aside in a warm place, covered, for about 10 minutes, until the yeast starts bubbling up.
- Meanwhile, place the two flours in a mixing bowl and add the salt. Mix to combine all. Form a well in the center and drop the yeast mixture, 3 tablespoons of olive oil and the rest of the water (about 1/2 cup) and start mixing until the dough lumps together and forms a ball, adding more water if necessary.
- Form the ball with your hands with a few strokes and place back in the bowl, covered, for about 20 minutes.
- Remove from the bowl, knead for 3 minutes and place back in the bowl with 2 tablespoons of oil, covering the entire surface of the dough. Cover and let the dough rise for two hours. This should give you enough dough for two batches of snails (90 snails) or one batch and one ball of dough to make pizza with or pita bread or flatbread. You can sprinkle some flour on the extra ball and freeze it in a freezer bag.
- After the dough has risen, roll it out on a greased work surface as thin as possible, into a rectangular shape. Grab the zaatar and olive oil paste and spread it on the entire surface of the dough with a spoon or a spatula.
- With your fingers, roll the dough from the wide side, like a jelly roll, until you end up with a thin sausage.
- Cut the sausage every 1/4 inch or so, and place the snails in a greased cookie sheet; (the cookie sheet can be lined with foil and greased)
- Bake for 20 minutes, reversing the sheet from front to back and top to bottom, to make sure it bakes evenly. You may also want to flip the snails halfway through. When the snails look golden and crisp, they are done! Remove and serve warm or at room temperature. Store leftovers in the freezer.These snails taste best fresh out of the oven.
You can cover the snails with a plastic bag or wrap and store them in the fridge and bake them the next day. These will dry up eventually if stored at room temperature, so it is best to store them in the freezer and reheat them gently in a slow oven. To get them chewy again after a few hours at room temperature, a few seconds (less than 10) in the microwave will do the trick.
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