I love taboon bread.
As I have mentioned before in this blog, I am a lover of bread.
There are so many delightful ways to make bread, and I think it’s safe to say that I would most likely enjoy eating most of them!
There is nothing quite like the experience of making bread.
The feel of the flour and water between my fingers as I start to bring the dough together.
The strength used to knead the bread as you warm and stretch the strands of gluten in the dough, all the hard work pays off when a springy and elastic dough is created.
The feel of a good dough once it has risen is a sensual experience for me.
The dough is something I want to feel over and over again, and certainly would if it wasn’t even better after it’s baked.
The combination of the smell, the warmth, the crunch, the softness all at once hitting your senses in a way that is hard to replicate with any other food.
Taboon bread is no different!
And when you find a bakery that makes it well, you have found a gold mine, and when you learn to make it well yourself, you have the holy grail of taboon bread.
There is a bakery in the town of Sweleh on the outskirts of Amman that used to make the best taboon bread and then for some inexplicable reason they stopped making it.
It’s a bakery that we pass every Friday on our way to the Jordan Valley.
The weekend before last as we drove by I was sure that I saw someone leaving with taboon bread, so last weekend I stopped to see for myself, and I was rewarded with hot taboon bread, just out of the oven!
I bought five big loaves that I was able to pick for myself out of the pile of fresh goodness that was the taboon bread.
Warm, thick and chewy. Just wonderful!
What Is Taboon Bread?
It’s all down to the way it’s cooked that gives it its name.
The taboon is a kind of oven.
In the very old days these ovens were built below the ground, and a key to heating them was hot, smooth stones that were at the bottom of the oven.
The bread dough would be placed directly on the stones creating the signature bumps that distinguishes taboon bread from other types.
With time it became more practical to build theses ovens above ground, but the hot stones remained as a way to cook the bread.
My grandmother had one that was built outside just off her kitchen Jerusalem.
She would sit on the ground and bake bread for our day.
She would bake me a loaf of bread with an egg in it as a treat some mornings.
I still remember to this day how delicious it was.
Maybe that is one of the reasons I like bread so much.
How to Recreate a Taboon Oven at Home
If you do not have a taboon oven, which most of us don’t, then you can collect rocks, wash them and put them in a tray and heat in your oven.
When hot open the oven pull out the tray and plop the rolled dough onto the hot stones and slide the tray back in the oven.
I didn’t have stones when I made this recipe and so I put a cast iron skillet in the oven and heated that.
Once it was hot I popped the dough onto the skillet and put it back in the oven to cook.
The bread will cook through and does not need to be turned.
This bread freezes really well, so make lots of it!
Then it can be on hand anytime you are eating your favorite mezzes, or just want a wonderful piece of bread.
I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do!
Equipment I Used
- Add the olive oil and water, mix until dough emerges.
- Knead dough for a few minutes.
- Cover and set aside until dough is double in size.
- Punch down and knead for a few minutes.
- Preheat oven to 400°F (200°C).
- Cover and set aside until double in size.
- Cut into 12 even pieces.
- Sprinkle flour on a surface and roll out dough into round loaves.
- If using stones in a pan, once oven is up to temperature, place the dough loaves one at a time until cooked (5-7 minutes).
- Remove and cool on a rack.