Maneesh – Middle Eastern flatbread


So here we are….Maneesh done and dusted and to clinch the deal, it is simple. Always wanted to try this but for me trying a new bread recipe is inevitably daunting. The thing to do is take the plunge and see what happens….never fails to surprise me…either a total failure, a tad stodgy, not like the last loaf I made etc etc, or simply perfect, and this Maneesh was an unqualified success; trust me, follow the recipe, don’t worry about the dough being a little sloppy or sticky, see it rise and blow up, pat it into disks and pop it into the oven.

I have followed Paul Hollywood’s basic recipe with a little tweaking. For example, I found 300ml of water was sufficient, the dough is quite sticky and soft but that is how it is meant to be.  Use olive oil on the work surface or pastry board while kneading, you may need to do this a few times.  Using a rolling pin to roll the dough didn’t work for me as it stuck to the dough so just pat it with your hands and push it outwards with your fingers to form a respectable disk – that’s simple and works; the result is what you see in the picture.

For garnish I have used Zaatar which is a mix of powdered dried herbs and spices used lavishly in the Middle East, Egypt and Lebanon.  There are various recipes for Zaatar but the basic is thyme, sesame seeds, sumak and a little salt; if you can’t lay your hands on sumak, just leave it out or add a tiny bit of citric acid powder.  Here is a link if you wish to buy Zaatar online – it is a delicious and fragrant mix which can be sprinkled on toast, salads, soups and stews.

Another thing I noticed about Maneesh was that when it came out of the oven, smelling heavenly of course, it was quite crusty, however, the top softens somewhat when cool. In this batch we are going to make 3 loaves of Maneesh – I put a couple in the fridge and the next day I warmed these in the oven for 3-4 minutes and it was beautifully crusty again! It is fine to freeze and easy to take to work with a slice of vegan cheese or whatever you fancy.  By the way, I also tried a piece with some damson jam….divine! 

Makes 3 loaves


500 grams strong white flour
2 level teaspoons salt
25 grams/2 level tablespoons caster sugar
10g fast action yeast
1½ tablespoon olive oil plus some for kneading and rolling
300ml lukewarm water 

Topping – mix ingredients and set aside
3 heaped tablespoons sesame seeds
2 tablespoons Zaatar
3 tablespoons olive oil (you may need a little more to make a spreadable paste)



  • In a large bowl, mix flour, salt, sugar and yeast
  • Add olive oil and two-thirds of the water and mix
  • Add more water and continue to bring the flour together into a ball – this will be quite sticky but that’s fine
  • Oil a pastry board or work surface and knead the dough for about 8-10 minutes (click here for kneading video). You may need to coat the board with more oil if the dough sticks and it will!
  • The dough should now be smooth and soft but could still be a little sticky, no worries
  • Form into a ball, place in a clean bowl and cover with clean teacloth and leave to rise in a warm place for about 90 minutes – it should double, if not give it a little more time


  • Turn it over on the board and flatten it by folding it back on itself a few times – it will be quite springy!
  • Divide into 3 portions and flatten each portion out with the palm of your hands; use your fingers to make an approximate circle and push the dough gently away from you as you do this. Rolling pin didn’t work for me as the dough is very bouncy!
  • Place on 3 oiled trays, cover loosely with cling film and let it rest for 20 minutes
  • Gently brush the Zaatar and sesame seed paste on to the Maneesh – I used a blunt knife
  • Pop into a pre-heated oven at 230C/450F or gas mark 8. My oven only goes up to 220 so that is what I had to settle for and it worked
  • The cooking time will vary from oven to oven, which rack the bread is on in the oven and the temperature. The one on the top shelf in my oven was done in 15 minutes; the other two on the lower shelf took almost 20 minutes so eyeballing is essential
  • Cool on a wire rack if you’re strong….I tore a piece out almost immediately off my first loaf as you can see in the picture if you look real hard!

Now sit back and admire your handiwork….artisan bread you can be rightly proud of!

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