A popular Emirati treat, this date-sweetened bread looks like a cross between a doughnut and a burger bun. It's delicious plain or eaten with honey or cheese.
- Yield: Makes about 12
Photography: Christopher Testani
Source: Martha Stewart's Cooking School, Episode 501
- 8 large Medjool dates, pitted and chopped
- 3 cups hot water
- 7 to 8 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface and baking sheets
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 teaspoons milk powder
- 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 1 teaspoon ground fennel
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for topping
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
- Pinch of saffron threads
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- Za'atar, sesame seeds, or caraway seeds, for topping
- Ghee, for brushing
Place dates in a large glass measuring cup or bowl. Add water; set aside until softened. Use an immersion blender or food processor to puree until smooth. Pass mixture through a fine mesh sieve, discarding solids.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together 7 cups flour, sugar, milk powder, yeast, fennel, salt, cardamom, and saffron. Attach bowl to mixer and fit with dough hook attachment. Add date water mixture and mix on low until smooth, about 5 minutes. The dough should be sticky and moist but not too wet. Add up to 1 cup more flour if necessary. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and set aside until dough has doubled in bulk, about 2 hours.
Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface. Divide dough into 12 equal pieces, about 4 1/4 ounces each. Roll each piece into a ball and divide them evenly between two lightly floured rimmed baking sheets. Cover with plastic and set aside until puffed, 20 to 30 minutes.
Preheat a large cast-iron Dutch oven over high and a small cast-iron griddle over medium-high until very hot. Fit two rimmed baking sheets with wire racks; set aside.
When the pans are hot, use your hands to flatten one ball of dough into a 5-inch round. Brush one side well with water and immediately transfer round, water-side down, to the hot griddle. Brush top of dough with egg wash and sprinkle lightly with salt and desired topping. Cook until bottom of dough is brown and bubbles are starting to form in the dough, about 1 1/2 minutes. Adjust heat as necessary to keep pan hot but not too hot.
Carefully flip griddle and place on top of heated Dutch oven, bread-side down. Adjust griddle to prevent any gaps between the two. Cook until the bread is puffed and golden brown, about 2 1/2 minutes. Use a metal spatula to remove the bread from the griddle to prepared rack. Brush top of bread with ghee. Repeat with the remaining dough. (Keep dough in refrigerator if your kitchen is too warm.)