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RECIPE: Khameer, traditional Emirati bread

Khameer is a traditional Emirati bread which we should all know how to make.

It’s simple if you have the time and the tools. While this recipe calls for blenders, processors and mixers, traditionally, khameer is of course lovingly made by hand.

A popular Emirati treat, this date-sweetened bread is delicious plain or eaten with honey or cheese. You can stuff your khameer with cream, date paste and nuts for a sweet stuffing.  Try savoury stuffings like falafel, cheese, labneh, basil or black olives. Leave the za’atar topping off if you plan to use a sweet filling.

Makes: 12

Preparation Time: 3 hours, including soaking, resting and proving time.

 

Ingredients

  • 8 large Medjool dates, pitted and chopped
  • 3 cups hot water
  • 7 to 8 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface and baking sheets
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons milk powder
  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon ground fennel
  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus more for topping
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • Pinch of saffron threads
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • Za'atar, sesame seeds, or caraway seeds, for topping
  • Ghee, for brushing

Procedure

  • Pre-heat your oven to 290C, 550F, Gas Mark 12
  • 1. Place dates in a large glass measuring cup or bowl. Add water; set aside until softened - for a minimum of 30 minutes, and up to two hours, or overnight. Use an immersion blender or food processor to puree until smooth. Pass mixture through a fine-mesh sieve, discarding solids.
  • 2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together seven cups of flour, sugar, milk powder, yeast, fennel, salt, cardamom, and saffron. Attach bowl to mixer and fit with dough hook attachment. Add date water mixture and mix on low until smooth, about five minutes. The dough should be sticky and moist but not too wet. Add up to one cup more flour if necessary. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set aside until dough has doubled in bulk, about two hours.
  • 3. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface. Divide dough into 12 equal pieces, about 125 grammes each. Roll each piece into a ball and divide them evenly between two lightly floured rimmed baking sheets. Cover with plastic and set aside until puffed, 20 to 30 minutes.
  • 4. Use your hands to flatten one ball of dough into a 12-inch round. Brush one side well with water, flip, and brush top of dough with egg wash, sprinkle lightly with salt and desired topping.
  • 5. Immediately transfer round, water-side down, to the oven, directly on the oven rack.
  • 6. Cook until the bottom of dough is brown and bubbles are starting to form in the dough, about 2-3 minutes.
  • 7. Use a heat-proof spatula to remove the bread from the oven to the prepared cooling rack. Brush top of bread with ghee, if desired. Repeat with the remaining dough. (Keep dough in the refrigerator if your kitchen is too warm.)


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