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How to bake this Lebanese cheese flatbread

Feta, halloumi and mozzarella combine into a delicious pastry.
Flat bread from Lebanon: cheese and pastry has never worked so well (cooking.journey/Instagram)

Levantine flat bread, known in Arabic as mana'esh b' jibneh, is topped with a mix of gooey white cheeses which combine well with the crunchy chia-encrusted outside and fluffy middle. The combination of melted stringiness and pastry comfort make it a popular flavour across Lebanon.

I find it's best served while served while warm with some cherry tomatoes, baby cucumbers, olives, mint and, of course, a cup of tea.


Recipe

Makes: 10-12

Preparation and baking time: 1 hour and 30 minutes

The chia-crusted topping is a final embellishment (cooking.journey/Instagram)

1. Ingredients

For the dough 

  • 500g (1.1lbs) plain flour
  • ½ tbsp yeast
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 75ml (2½oz) plain yoghurt
  • 250ml (9oz) water, depending on the flour
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tbsp chia seeds

For the topping

  • 125g (1 cup) feta
  • 125g (1 cup) halloumi
  • 125g (1 cup) mozzarella
  • an egg
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
     

Mana'esh b' jibneh: waiting to turn golden brown (cooking.journey/Instagram)

2. Method

For the cheese topping

  1. Cut to small pieces or shred all the cheeses
  2. Mix together and set aside.

For the dough

  1. Mix all the dough ingredients together well and knead for 5 to 7 mins.
  2. Cover and let rest for 45 mins until it has risen.
  3. Cut the dough into medium pieces or balls - you should have around 10 to 12.
  4. Cover and let rest for a further 15 mins.
  5. Preheat the oven to 200ºC fan (Non-fan: 220ºC /425ºF).
  6. Flatten each piece of dough with a rolling pin, ensuring it is not too thin.
  7. Top with the cheese mixture.
  8. Shape the edges as shown above
  9. Sprinkle some chia seeds on top, lay on a baking tray and bake for 15 to 20 mins until golden brown. 

You can follow Nahed Alfar on her Instagram account: @cooking.journey