A thicker, and tastier version of pita bread in my opinion, this type of bread really has a hardiness to it.
Palestinian taboon bread is known thorughout the Middle East as one of the tastiest around.
What is Taboon Bread?
Taboon bread is simply a type of flat bread that is cooked in a clay oven over rocks heated by a fire.
The oven itself is known as a taboon oven which in the very old days was fashioned by hand.
Not having a flat surface of tiles or bricks, loose stones were laid over the heat source.
This allowed the bread to bake at high temperatures, which is what all good bread needs.
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.
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 these 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 in 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.
Baking Taboon Bread is An Experience
The feel of a good dough once it has risen is a sensual experience for me.
The dough is something I want to touch and experience in my hands before it’s baked.
And of course after baking, the aim is to devour the lovely delights that have been created.
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.
The somewhat sticky dough baked in your preheated oven on a baking sheet lined with rocks is the perfect way to make this bread.
I also often bake taboon bread in a cast iron skillet, making the famous indentations with my fingers.
HOW TO RECREATE A TABOON OVEN AT HOME
If you do not have a taboon oven, which most of us don’t, but don’t let that stop you.
You can collect rocks, wash them and put them in a tray and heat them in your oven.
When hot, open the oven, pull out the tray and plop the flattened 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 it.
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, but you can turn it if you want.
This bread freezes really well, so make lots of it, then it can be on hand anytime you are eating your favorite mezzes.
I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do!
- 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.