Moroccan whole wheat bread: Khobz zra’a for my 500th post

Well, the 500th post in this blog has to be a Moroccan recipe and a vital one! It’s about the daily bread.

Moroccan cooking has always been an oral tradition transmitted from generation to generation and, in the best scenario, someone would have thought about writing down guidelines of a recipe in a personal notebook..Only fairly recently (as in the last 30 years or so) that Moroccan cookery books written and printed in Morocco by Moroccans started popping out there and now they’re mushrooming like ever before..

So when I make bread, I just don’t bother measuring the ingredients, which is also part of cooking the Moroccan way. We add ingredients by feeling and we mimic our mothers, sisters for the rest.. When you cook some type of food all your life, measuring ingredients becomes just a waste of time because your senses become the measuring tool.

So I was asked to share a recipe of my whole wheat bread! Ahhhhh! But I don’t use a scale to measure my ingredients when I make the daily bread. NEVER. I only measure when I want to share in this blog (look for “bread” or “batbout” recipes in the blog) for I know that precision makes the recipe easily “shareable”.
Well for the sake of these people, I did measure it today.
Bread finished with whole wheat flour
Today’s recipe is not only about ingredients, but about a methodology of making bread. So you can use different flours but the logic will be the same. I take it you know that different flours in different climates make their absorption ratio quite approximate.
Sending this link to Susan’s yeastspotting weekly event.

For 5 smalls Moroccan breads
Prep: 15 min – Proofing and autolyse: 5 hours- baking: 18 min
  • 420g of flour (50% strong white – 50% whole wheat)
  • 300 ml of lukewarm water
  • 1 tsp of instant dried yeast
  • 1 tsp of sugar or honey
  • 1 tsp of baking powder (not a traditional ingredient, see notes)
  • 1 tbsp + 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • Extra 50 g of flour + 2 tbsp of water for shaping and decorating.
The same recipe but finished and decorated with white flour
Mix the yeast, sugar, 100 g of flour with 1/3 of the water. Mix thouroughly and set aside covered until it bubbles.
In a big bowl (you may use a KitchenAid or equivalent) or over the worktop, place the flours mixed with salt and baking powder. Make a well and add the yeast mix. Add 1/2 of the water remaining.
Start mixing to form a dough, add 1 tbsp of oil and the water SLOWLY (not it one go)!
1- I work the dough at speed 1 for 3 min, then speed 2 for 2 min, then speen 3 for 1 min.
2- I stop the machine and use my hand to scrap off all the dough, return it on itself and start the kneading again: speed 1, 2, 3 for 1 minute each.
3- Scrap the dough and again speed 1,2,3 for 1 minute each. Add the last drops of water in this last kneading cycle.
Total kneading time with a KitchenAid: 12 min with a couple of stops.
First resting time /autolyse
Oil your hands, scrap the dough and form a sort of ball, place it back in the bowl and cover with a plastic bag and a dark towel on top. Set aside to double in size.
Second resting time/autolyse (optional)
Deflate the dough by bringing it towards the center of the bowl, fold it on itself a couple of times. Cover again and set aside to double in size.
Shaping and proofing the bread
Grease your hands with some oill. Flour the surface with a bit of flour. Cut the dough into 2 to 4 pieces.
Roll each piece to form a ball (we usually bring the edges towards the center in a constant movement, just like we make any round-shaped bread). Do this for all the dough pieces. Cover for 10 min.
Come back to the first ball and, in a floured surface, flatten it just below 1 cm thickness while trying to have a round-shaped form.
Place the bread on an oiled baking sheet and sprinkled with fine semolina (or use a baking paper). Leave space between each bread. Cover properly with 2 kitchen towels and keep somewhere without a potential of wind draft. Let it proof for at least 30 min depending on the weather and humidity of your environment.
Baking the bread
10 minutes before baking the bread, preheat the oven at the highest temperature possible (250 degrees non assisted fan for me here).
Take a brush and dip it in water, run it gently on top of the bread, sprinkle with flour and spread it with your hands over the bread (just as if you are caressing the head of a baby). Score it with a sharp knife.
Place the bread inside in the middle rack of the oven. Create some steam by sprinkling some water inside it before closing the door.
Bring the temparature to 200 and watch it double in side and turn to a nice brown colour. I turn the broiler on for the last 4 minutes for a nice colour.
Take the bread out of the oven and place it in on a kitchen towel. In Morocco, we usually cover it with the towel to trap the moist in and we don’t care much about that hard crust logic.
1- This bread is made with 70% hydratation (ration of water to flour), depending on the flour used, you need to keep this ration between 66% and 70%.
2- The whole wheat flour I’m using in UK is not as rough as the one in Morocco where we literally feel the bran. I just see bran flour-like dots. 
3- I deflate the dough twice and let it double again. You can shortcut that and only do it once. I prefer when my bread takes time to “mature”. 
4- Sometimes, I use leftover dough from the previous bread, Its weight is usually anywhere between 30% and 50% of the flour to be used for the daily bread (you should know it by now if you follow this blog). I hardly use the store-bought yeast but today I meant to use it for those who want to go straight to baking this bread. I still advise that you mix a bit of flour with sugar, yeast and water and leave it for at least 1 hour before adding it to the rest. It’s the same logic of a poolish
5- The use of baking powder and sugar is to reproduce that softness we like back home when we go out and buy Moroccan breads sold in the bakeries. They use “enhancers” or “ameliorants”. using baking powder and sugar get us closer to that result in a home kitchen.
6- Finishing and decorating the bread is a personal choice, as you see here, the same recipe with less flour on top gave different look. I aslo used whole wheat flour in one and just white flour in the other, the result is nice in both but different.
7- This bread keeps well for 3 days without even placing it in the fridge. I just cover with a kitchen towel and place it a bread container (closed).
Why not checking these posts about bread..
Fine semolina flour with buttermilk (Lben)
For more bread recipes, please check the section dedicated to it.

4 thoughts on “Moroccan whole wheat bread: Khobz zra’a for my 500th post

  1. This recipe for Moroccan bread looks very good and as it is baking time today for me I shall try it straight away. It will bring back memories of my childhood in Morocco.I think I shall enjoy following you blog and I hope you visit my page on Facebook \”La Cuisine de Martine\” until I have time to care a little more about my blog with the same name.


  2. Hi Martine, sorry for the delay as I was still enjoying a long vacation in Morocco..I just checked your page and had a marbre on my face lol.. I love cake marbre and that one looks scrumptious!


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