Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Lebanese Talami - A Baker's Odyssey Personal Challenge # 25

New Year resolutions.
Did you make one?
How well are you keeping it?

I have often wondered about this phenomenon. Is it a modern idea or has it been around for ages? Is it a tradition all over the world? And the big question - how many people achieve their New Year resolutions? Interestingly a quick google reveals that the ancient Babylonians promised their gods that they would repay their debts and return borrowed goods at the beginning of the year. Even the Romans and knights in the Medieval times made various promises at the beginning of the year.
With regards to the Big Question - a 2007 study by the University of Bristol showed 88% of 3000 people survey actually failed to keep their resolution.
Hmmmm, not good odds.

I did make a resolution last year but it wasn't a New Year resolution. It was a blogging resolution or more to the point a baking resolution. I resolved to bake and blog my way through "A Baker's Odyssey" by Greg Patent. Of late, this went a little on the wayside but I'm back on track!

Have you ever bake through a whole cookbook?
Do you have any cookbook in your collection that inspires you that much?
I'd love to know!

Ok, so back to today's recipe. I'll just call it one challenge though it is in fact two recipes in the cookbook - Basic Lebanese Yeast Dough from which we make Talami - a delicious savoury flat bread.

Lets start with the Basic Lebanese Yeast Dough. I halved the recipe but here I'll give you the full recipe so it's up to you. The full recipe is divided into two - one half is then used to make Fatayar (Lamb and onion pies, recipe coming) and the other half is divided into two to make Talmi and Lebanese Fried Dough - yes, that recipe is coming, too. 

Basic Lebanese Yeast Dough

2 packages (14g) active dry yeast
2 1/3 cups warm water
1 teaspoon sugar
8 cups all purpose flour, plus extra for kneading
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 cup corn oil (I used sunflower oil)
8 tablespoons (115g) butter, melted and still warm

Mix together the yeast, 1/2 cup warm water and the sugar. Stand for 10 minutes until bubbly and frothy.

In the large bowl of a stand mixer place the flour and salt. Make a well and pour in the yeast mixture, oil, butter and the remaining water. 

With the dough hook attached mix the ingredients slowly until the dough comes together. Continue to mix until it forms a smooth, soft dough, about 5-8 minutes.
Remove the dough from the mixer bowl and knead on a lightly floured surface for another 5 minutes or so until the dough is elastic and supple.
Wash and dry the mixer bowl and oil lightly. Put the dough back into the bowl and cover with plastic wrap.
Allow the dough to rise at room temperature for 2 hours.

As I said I made half the quantity of dough so now divide the dough in two equal portions. One for Talami and the other I set aside for Lebanese Fried dough).
For the Talami you will need zatar. If you can't find zatar you can mix your own by using equal quantities of toasted sesame seeds, dried thyme and sumac. I order my spices from this great Australian company, Gewurzhaus.
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 recipe of the Basic Lebanese Yeast Dough, risen once
1/4 cup zatar or your own mix as above
Now take a large pizza tray about 14 inches in diameter and pour on 2 tablespoons of oil and spread to make a 12 inch circle. Place the dough in the centre and allow it to rest for 10 minutes.
In a small bowl stir together the remaining oil and the zatar to make a paste. Pat the dough into a 10 inch circle and spread the  zatar paste to within a 1/2 inch of the edge. Now let it stand uncovered while the oven preheats.  Preheat the oven to 450F/230C.

Bake the Talami until golden which will take about 20 to 30 minutes.
Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
I know you will enjoy this bread with it's delicious topping and tender crumb due to the oil and butter.


  1. Marcellina, way back in 1976 I began baking my way through "Maida Heatter's Book of Great Desserts," her first cookbook, (Knopf, 1974). It took me 1 1/2 years to bake and eat my way through more than 250 recipes, and I learned more from that experience about baking than from any other. A few years later Maida and her husband, Ralph, came to dinner at our home. What a treat that was. I applaud you for your undertaking and I am enjoying immensely reading about your journey through "A Baker's Odyssey." Greg

  2. Thank you, Greg! I too, am learning so much from baking my way through your cookbook, A Baker's Odyssey and you are welcome to dinner anytime!

  3. I received a cook book from my cousin's wife 18 months ago - they were living in Singapore and that is where she bought it. It is called Thai cooking made easy, and is just that little bit different to Thai cookbooks that I have bought here. I have made my way through the entire cookbook except for the sweets - I don't have much of a sweet tooth so have left them out. I loved the experience of finding ingredients and making the recipes from scratch.
    I would like to attempt a baking book next, and am keenly interested in your experiences! Lorelle

  4. How wonderful to hear of your "cooking through the book" experience! I have to agree with you, finding new ingredients and learning how to use them is so much fun. I have only cooked basic Thai, which I love, but I can imagine how fantastic it would be to cook through an entire Thai cookbook. Sounds like you really enjoyed it! Congratulations! Let me know if you attempt that baking book.Thank you for your comments! Marcellina

  5. To be honest, I've been enamoured with the idea of cooking through a cookbook end to end ever since I watched the movie Julie and Julia. The only cookbook I have that I've been that in love with is Darina Allen's Forgotten Skills of Cooking. With 700 recipes, many containing things that don't appear so often on my side of the ocean it would be a pretty daunting task. But when the right book comes along... I think it will happen!

  6. Yes, true Dana, I think Julie and Julia did it to me too! It made me think if I would ever find a book so inspiring. Not long after I bought "A Baker's Odyssey". Good luck with you search!


Thank you for taking the time to comment and for letting me know what you think!