Sunday, 16 June 2013

The Bread Baking Babes bake Nan e Barbari! (Persian Flatbread)

The Bread Baking Babes bake Nan e Barbari! (Persian Flatbread)

Bread Baking Babe Elizabeth has been doing her favourite thing - kneading dough by hand and baking on her BBQ for a an exciting summer bread. This would go perfectly with some kebabs, salads, sauces and salty cheese. 
Perhaps the most famous and widely used bread in Iran, Barbari is a part of Iranian culture. A piece of Barbari with some feta cheese and a cup of tea form the traditional breakfast in Iran. The secret behind the golden color of Barbari and its unique smell is in the small amount of baking soda mixed with some water and used to brush Barbari before baking. This mix is called Romal.

- Lida, 1001 Recipes, Barberi Bread
Nan e Barbari (Persian flatbread)
based on Lida's recipe for Barbari Bread at
Notes and adaptation by Elizabeth.


    5 gm (~1.5 tsp) active dry yeast
    360 gm (1.5 c) water, at 90F (32C) ¹
    60 gm (~0.5 c) 100% whole wheat flour
    360 gm (~2.75 c) unbleached all purpose flour
    2 gm (~0.5 tsp) baking powder ²
    6 gm (1 tsp) salt
    nigella seeds (or black sesame, poppy, sesame seeds)


    1 tsp 1/2 tsp flour
    1 tsp 1/2 tsp baking soda ²
    160 gm (2/3 c) 80 gm (1/3 c) water

*My version of the bread - I love my stand mixer and used it. There are as many ways to bake bread as there are people in this world and my stand mixer and I are good buddies. 
Also - I do oil my bowl. I find you need less flour and get a more tender crumb this way. Also - the dough is easier to handle. Plus, I love olive oil. 
I made 4 breads, the smaller ones being easier to store in a cake dome. 
For the glaze I used 1/2 cup of water, splitting the difference. 
I shaped my breads after the long rise, right on to the parchment paper. This way I had a fluffy, tender bread. 
I topped mine with za'atar and nigella seeds and baked for 15 minutes on 375°, on a pizza stone. Yum! 

  • Mixing the dough: Pour the water into a largish bowl. Whisk in the yeast.
  •     Add the flours, baking powder and salt and stir with a wooden spoon until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
  •     Kneading: ³ Turn the dough out onto an UNfloured board. Wash and dry the mixing bowl. Please do not be tempted to skip this step.
  •     Using both hands on either side of the dough and thumbs resting on the top in the center, lift it up and flip it over in the air before plopping it back down on the board. Fold the dough in half away from you as you plop the dough down. Keep repeating until the dough is smooth. Every so often, use the dough scraper to clean the board. Stretching the dough is desired on the turns. But this won't start happening right away. (Please look at this video for clarification.)
  •     When the dough is smooth, place it in the clean mixing bowl (there is no need to oil the bowl). Cover the bowl with a plate and leave in a draft-free area to rise to double.
  •     Prepare the sauce: Whisk flour, baking soda and water in a small pot. Bring it to a boil. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
  •     Pre-shaping: Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Scatter a light dusting of flour on the board and gently remove the risen dough onto it. Don't worry that the dough is quite slack. Cut the dough in half. Form each piece into a ball and place well apart on the cookie sheet. Cover with a clean tea towel followed by a plastic grocery bag and allow to rise to double in a draft-free area. (about an hour)
  •     Final Shaping: Brush each round with the sauce. Really slather the sauce on. It will keep your hands from sticking to the dough.
  •     Dip your fingers in the sauce and dimple the rounds down to form two ovals with lengthwise furrows. (Please see photos below; also see photos on the right side of the page at
  •     Liberally brush ovals with the sauce once more and sprinkle with nigella seeds. Allow the ovals to stand for about 30 min.
  •     Baking: 4 Put a stone into the barbecue and preheat it to high. Before putting them onto the stone, pull each oval with your hands to lengthen it. Wet your hands so they won't stick to the ovals and pull the dough from the bottom with your palms facing downwards. (Please see photos below; also see photos on the right side of the page at
  •     Put the lengthened ovals onto the hot stone. Move the stone over to cook the bread on indirect heat. Close the barbecue lid. Every so often turn the bread around to account for uneven heat in the barbecue. Cook the bread until it is golden (about 15 minutes).

The Bread Baking Babes

A note from BBB Elizabeth on baking along with us this month - 
To receive a Baking Buddy Badge to display on your site: clean off your board, wash your hands to make Nan e Barbari (Persian Flatbread) in the next couple of weeks and post about it – we love to see how your bread turned out AND hear what you think about it: what you didn’t like and/or what you liked – before the 28 June 2013. If you do not have a blog, no problem; you can also post your picture(s) to Flickr (or any other photo sharing site) and record your thoughts about the bread there. Please remember to contact the Kitchen of the Month (hey! that’s me!!) to say that your post is up.
Here’s how to let us know: