This is the traditional bread of every home in Algeria, hence it's name which transaltes into English as 'Bread of the House'. Every home has a different version & this particular recipe is from my lovely sister in law 'Um Youcef' ;) Just a word of warning, if you have never made this kind of bread before, you will be shocked at how sticky & hard to work with the dough is. Unlike a regular bread, when your dough is too sticky you may add more flour - here adding more flour or semolina will make things worse...instead add a little water & knead gently with your fingertips . Water will always make the dough come together & away from your hands & the mixing bowl. You can also knead the dough in a KA or similar mixer with a sturdy dough hook.
- 3 1⁄2 cups fine semolina (my cups hold 12oz, fluid)
- 1 1⁄4 cups strong white bread flour
- 2 cups water, room temp. plus extra
- 4 fluid ounces sunflower oil (or vegetable, canola etc.)
- 7 g fast action yeast
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 large egg yolks, beaten
- 2 -3 tablespoons sesame seeds
- 1 tablespoon nigella seeds (optional)
- Grease a large round metal tin / pan (approx 12" across / wide & 1.5" high / deep).
- Place the semolina, flour, yeast, sugar & salt in a very large mixing bowl. (In Algeria we traditionally use huge but shallow wooden bowls for mixing doughs.)
- Make a well in the centre & add the beaten egg & the oil along with 1 cup of water. Mix well, adding more water when necessary.
- Keep mixing until you have a soft dough. Now knead the dough for around 30 minutes until it is soft, smooth & elastic. You will need to add a little water from time to time as the semolina absorbs it.
- If you are having problems with a very sticky dough, don't worry - if you've used the correct amounts of ingredients, everything will be OK - just keep kneading & add dribbles of water to bring the dough back together again.
- After 30 minutes, mix in the nigella seeds if using then with wet hands bring the dough together in a ball.
- Place the dough in the greased pan & with wet hands, gently push the dough until it completely covers the base of the pan.
- Sprinkle a little semolina over the top, cover with a kitchen towel & leave to rise until doubled in size.
- Pre-heat the oven to 180°C
- Brush the top of the dough with the egg yolks & sprinkle the sesame seeds over the top. Using a skewer, make 6 pricks -going all the way through the dough - 5 evenly spaced holes 1" from the edge & 1 hole in the centre (This will make sure that the bread cooks evenly).
- Place in the upper 1/3 of the oven & cook for approx 35 minutes or until a deep golden colour & sounding hollow when tapped.
- Remove from the oven & allow to cool for 5 minutes bfore turning out onto a kitchen towel. Wrap the bread in the towle & allow to cool on a wire rack before serving.
I just used what I had out of the recipe and had to finagle some things, but it turned out really well surprisingly, which makes me feel like this recipe is solid and must have fairly consistent results (unlike some bread recipes). I did not have the simsim, refused to use my black seed in a recipe that i hadnt tried before, was conservative with my eggs, and did not have fine semolina. Instead of the fine semolina I used coarse semolina and only used about a cup of it and substituted the rest in all purpose white flour. Also, I only used the one egg for the actual bread and not the multiple yolks for the browning. HOWEVER, my results were very very good. I got a nice round loaf of bread that was nice and soft in the middle, a crispy on the outside. The loaf browned very well without the egg yolk wash, and had a nice tan color. The bread is nice and sturdy, so for those who aren't accustomed to a good ole pain de maison, don't expect Wonder bread. It is a sturdy bread for soaking up and eating other foods, almost acting as its own kind of utensil.
PS. I really love Um Safia's recipes! As an American wife of an Algerian man too (with inlaws who dont speak any english and a listening-reading only (nonexpressive) understanding of French or Arabic..), I really appreciate her sharing her knowledge with others. It can be VERY VERY difficult to find authentic Algerian recipes. I really appreciate when she provides information on the regions that foods come from, because it makes a big difference when you think you are doing something really cool like making tli tli (which is often eaten in the eastern part of the country) to surprise your western Algerian husband and he looks at you like, what the crap is this? We don't eat this back home they eat this in... or you think you've got a good Algerian recipe and he goes "Why do you cook so much Moroccan food". *wallbash*. So, Thanks Um Safia!