This traditional Moroccan bread, or Khobtz, is served with almost every meal in Marrakech. The round bread is torn into pieces and used as a scoop when eating dishes like slow-cooked juicy tagines, couscous or cooked vegetable salads. It is also scooped out and stuffed with savory fillings by street vendors for the crowds into narrow winding streets of the walled city of Marrakech.
In older neighborhoods a baker receives loaves from families in the morning and bakes them in a huge wood-fired oven. The round loaves are then picked up ready to be used for a meal later in the day.
The bread is considered sacred by Moroccans, who don’t throw uneaten bread into the trash. It is instead given to someone else who can use it or fed to animals so that its nutrition will be respected.
A loaf of Khobz is about 3 inches thick – much more stout that its Arab cousins, pita or flat bread. And, even in the absence of a wood-fired oven, its still pretty easy to make. And the benefits of having the aroma of fresh baked bread in the oven, mingling with possibly the exotic smell of a slow cooked tagine on the stove? Well worth the effort.
- Makes Two 8 inch Loaves
- 4 Cups White Flour
- 2 Teaspoons Salt
- 2 Teaspoons Sugar
- 2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
- 1 Tablespoon Yeast
- 1 1/4 Cup Warm Water
- Additional flour for kneading and cornmeal or semonlina flour and oil for the pan
- Add the flour, sugar and salt to a mixing bowl. Make a large well in the center. Place the yeast in the center of the well.
- Add the oil and water to the well and begin combining the ingredients, beginning the the yeast in the center working your way out.
- Once fully combined, turn the dough onto a floured surface and begin kneading. You can add more flour if the dough is too sticky.
- Knead for approximately 10 minutes, until the dough is smooth and shiny.
- Divide the dough into 2 balls.
- Place the dough on an oiled baking sheet, lightly coated with corn meal or semolina flour. Allow allow it to rest for 10 minutes.
- Flatten the dough with the palm of your hand until it is about 1/4 inch thick.
- Cover with a towel and allow it rise for approximately an hour, until the dough springs back when lightly pressed. It will need less time in warmer temperatures.
- Score the top with a sharp knife or poke holes in several places.
- Bake in a preheated 435 degree oven for approximately 20 minutes, rotating it once after 10 minutes in the oven.
- When the loaf turns golden brown, remove it from the oven and allow it to cool on a wire rack.
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A special thank you to La Maison Arabe – who provided us with the basis for this recipe. You can enjoy a traditional Moroccan Cooking Class, dine in their restaurant or even stay in their hotel during your next visit to Marrakech.
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