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The round Moroccan bread served at most meals is called khobz, but you might also hear it referred to by Berber names of kesra in Tamazight or agroum in Tashelhit. Crusty with a course interior, it’s perfect for the traditional Moroccan method of eating most dishes by hand using pieces of bread instead of a fork to scoop up salads, tagines, other entrees, sides and more. Wedges of bread may also be split open and stuffed with grilled meats or sandwich fillers of any kind.
You may occasionally see khobz described as a flatbread, but the round, flattish loaves are actually thicker than a typical flatbread. While the thickness can vary from bakery to bakery and family to family, generally khobz will not be more than one-inch (3 cm) high, depending on the flour used. Many Moroccans prefer to keep the height to no more than a half-inch (1.5 cm) thick.
Unless you find yourself in a rural area, freshly-baked khobz is readily available from neighborhood shops, bakeries and large grocery stores. Nonetheless, many families prefer to make their own homemade bread (khobz dyal dar), either baking it in a home oven or in a public street ovens known as a ferran. A variety of flours are typically used, and loaves can be shaped anywhere from petite rounds on up to family-sized loaves of 12-inches (30 cm) or more in diameter.
Below is a basic khobz recipe for Moroccan white bread, sometimes called force in reference to the French word for strong white flour. Although you can use all-purpose flour, selecting one that’s labeled bread flour or high in gluten will yield best results. Experiment with replacing some or half of the white flour with durum flour (very fine semolina), whole wheat or barley flour.
The dough requires a short rest and one rise before it goes into the oven. Plan to freeze unused Moroccan bread as it won’t stay fresh at room temperature for more than a day.
Moroccan White Bread Recipe - Khobz
- 4 cups white flour preferably high gluten or bread flour
- 2 tsp salt
- 2 tsp sugar
- 1 tbsp yeast
- 2 tbsp oil olive oil or vegetable oil
- 1 1/4 cups water warm (not hot)
- oil, semolina or cornmeal optional (for preparing the pan)
- Prepare a large baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper OR lightly oiling it OR dusting it with semolina or cornmeal. Set aside.
- Combine the flour, salt and sugar in a large bowl. Make a well in the center and add the yeast.
- Add some of the water to the yeast in the well and lightly stir with your fingers to dissolve the yeast (see Recipe Notes below). Add the rest of the water and oil to bowl and stir to combine all ingredients.
- Knead the dough (in the bowl if it's large enough or on a floured work surface) for 5 to 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. While kneading, work in a little flour or water as needed to ensure the dough is soft and pliable but not sticky.
- Divide the dough into two smooth mounds and place well apart on the prepared pan. Cover with a towel and leave to rest for 10 to 15 minutes.
- After resting, pat the mounds of dough into flat, round loaves about 1/4" thick. Cover again with a towel and leave to rise for about an hour (longer in a cold room), until the dough springs back when pressed lightly.
- Preheat your oven to 435°F (225°C). When the oven is hot, lightly score the top of the bread with sharp knife or poke in several places with a fork.
- Bake the khobz in the preheated oven, rotating the pan if necessary, for about 20 minutes or golden brown. The loaves should sound hollow when tapped.
- Transfer the khobz to a rack or towel-lined basket to cool.
- If you're not sure that your yeast is not fresh and active, please proof it before adding it to the ingredients in step 3. This is done by dissolving the yeast in a little warm water with a pinch of sugar. The mixture should become foamy within 10 minutes, indicating the yeast is active and ready to use. If the mixture doesn't turn foamy, discard it and get fresh yeast before proceeding.
- You can use a stand mixer with dough hook to knead the dough. Simply combine the ingredients as described above in the bowl of the mixer before fitting it to the machine. Keep a careful eye for the first minute or two to make any necessary adjustments to flour and/or water.
- Sesame seeds make an attractive and tasty garnish for Moroccan white bread. Golden, unhulled sesame is preferred in Morocco. The seeds can be pressed into the top of the dough when shaping the loaves (first brush the dough with water to help the seeds adhere) or added just prior to baking (gently brush the risen dough with an egg wash and sprinkle with the sesame).