Egyptian Flatbread (Aish Baladi)
Similar to pita, but made with whole wheat flour, this Egyptian flatbread is traditionally baked in scorching-hot ovens in Cairo’s bustling markets. Home cooks can achieve similar results with a baking stone and an oven cranked to high.
- 1 tbsp. active dry yeast
- 2 1⁄2 cups water, heated to 105º
- 5 cups whole-wheat flour, plus more for dusting
- 1 tbsp. kosher salt
- 1 tbsp. vegetable oil, plus more for greasing
- Cracked wheat bran for proofing, optional
- In a large bowl, whisk the yeast with the water and let stand until foamy, 10 minutes. Add 2 1⁄2 cups of the whole-wheat flour and stir until smooth. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and let stand for 30 minutes.
- Uncover the dough and, using your hand, stir the salt and oil into the dough and then add the remaining 2 1⁄2 cups whole-wheat flour and mix until the dough comes together. Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Place the dough in a large bowl greased with oil and cover with plastic wrap. Let stand until doubled in size, about 1 1⁄2 hours.
- Place a baking stone on a rack in the oven and heat the oven to 500° for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, punch the dough down and divide into 16 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and then flatten into a 5-inch circle. Lightly sprinkle the cracked wheat bran, if using, or more whole-wheat flour over 2 parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Divide the dough circles between the baking sheets and loosely cover with a kitchen towel. Let stand until slightly puffed, about 30 minutes.
- Working in batches, place the dough circles on the hot baking stone, spaced 2 inches apart, and bake until puffed and lightly charred in spots, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer the breads to a rack and let cool for 5 minutes before serving.