Make Ahead

No-Knead Barbari Bread

May  2, 2012
Photo by James Ransom
Author Notes

Barbari is one of several most popular breads in Iran. There are neighborhood bakeries that bake fresh barbari three times a day for daily meals. A popular Iranian breakfast consists of barbari with feta cheese or butter and jam along with a cup of hot sweetened tea. Barbari loaded with feta, walnuts and fresh herbs (a mix of basil, mint leaves, watercress, tarragon, radishes) is a popular treat for an afternoon snack. —cookingProf

  • Makes 2 flat breads
Ingredients
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar (for proofing)
  • 1 1/2 cups lukewarm water (for proofing)
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (1 packet)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon flour
  • 3 1/4 cups plus 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal (preferably coarse)
  • sesame seeds and/or nigella seeds (Kaloonji seeds)
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Mix sugar and warm water in a bowl. Sprinkle the yeast on top. Proof the yeast by letting it sit for 10-15 minutes.
  2. Mix the regular water (1/2 cup) and one teaspoon of flour in a small pot and bring it to boil to form a thin glaze. Set it aside to cool.
  3. Whisk the dry ingredients (remaining flour, baking powder, salt) in a large mixing bowl. Add the yeast to the mixing bowl and stir quickly and vigorously with a wooden spoon until the water is absorbed. This will form a somewhat dry and perhaps clumpy dough. Resist the temptation to add more water or to knead the dough. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in a warm oven (about 110° F). Let the dough rise for about 1 hour and 15 minutes or until more than doubled. Alternatively, you may leave the dough at room temperature and let it sit until it doubles in size.
  4. Preheat the oven to 475° F.
  5. Sprinkle a baking sheet with corn meal generously. Punch the dough down and cut it in half. Form a thick log from a piece of the dough with moist hands. Place the log on the center of the baking sheet. Brush the top of the log with the glaze mixture. Dip your finger tips in the glaze and flatten the dough Into a 12"X 5" oval shape. Keep dipping the tips of two fingers in the glaze and draw long ridges along the length of the dough while stretching it into a 15" X 7" oval and creating a fluted surface (5-6 fluted ridges).
  6. Sprinkle the bread with sesame seeds or nigella seeds. Place the tray on the bottom rack of the oven. Bake for 12 minutes or until the bread is crusty and golden brown. It is OK to peek after about 8-10 minutes.
  7. Discard any remaining corn meal in the pan. Repeat steps 5 and 6 for the second piece of dough.
  8. Barbari bread does not keep well and is best served warm out of the oven or kept in the freezer. Cut into pieces and freeze. Thaw and heat in a toaster before serving.

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Review
cookingProf

Recipe by: cookingProf

I was gifted with the love for cooking as a very young girl growing up in Tehran. I would follow my grandmother to the fresh produce market every day in summer days and help carry her basket home. I would then stand around at her foot in the kitchen and she would reward me with delicious morsels of the food she was cooking. My two prominent occupations/preoccupations are cooking and teaching computer science/writing computer programs. I find both equally rewarding.