Oregano Cakes (Akrass Zaatar)
I have spent several years in Israel with my Palestinian friends. There I experienced flavors that as an American would seem over the top, but to the Arab they are life sustaining. In the middle east they consume fresh herbs in large quantities.
In early spring when the wild oregano has first appeared in the fields these fragrant buns are made. They are served fresh out of the oven with a salad accompanied by olives and feta cheese.
1 teaspoon yeast
1/8 teaspoon sugar
3/4 cups warm water (110°)
2 cups flour
1 cup semolina flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup olive oil, extra for hands and bowl
1/2 lb. fresh oregano leaves (5 cups) washed and dried
1 teaspoon salt
Combine the yeast, sugar and 1/4 cup warm water in a bowl, let dissolve. Set aside until foamy.
Sift the flour, semolina, baking powder, and salt together into a standing mixer fitted with a dough hook. Stir together the yeast and remaining 1/2 cup of water and oil, add to the flour mixture and stir until it pulls away from the sides of the bowl. If the dough doesn’t come away from the sides add 1 tablespoon of flour until it does. Raise the speed to high and mix until the dough is smooth and elastic.
Remove dough from mixer onto a work surface. Toss the oregano with the salt, and pour it over the dough. Coat your hands with olive oil and knead the oregano/salt into the dough until mix in. Drizzle some oil into a clean bowl and place the dough inside, rolling it around until coated with the oil. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm area until it has doubled in size, approximately 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 400°. Lightly oil a baking sheet or use parchment paper not oiled.
Punch the dough down and knead it until it is soft and smooth. Roll out into 1/2” thick. Cut out 3” round buns with a cookie or biscuit cutter and place them on a prepared baking sheet. Tuck in any leaves sticking out from the dough. Bake for 10 minutes, then reverse their positions and bake until golden brown, another 10 minutes. Serve warm. (Recipe adapted from May S. Bsisu)