Hot Bread Kitchen's Nan-e Barbari (Persian Flatbread)

Hot Bread Kitchen, a New York City bakery focusing on multi-ethnic artisan breads and other baked goods, trains immigrant and low-income women in the craft of baking, empowering them with skills to succeed in the city's top bakeries. This bread is one of their specialties. We've tweaked the recipe a tiny bit to make it home baker-friendly; you'll find the complete original recipe in The Hot Bread Kitchen Cookbook, available at Hot Bread's website.

Prep
20 mins
Bake
15 to 18 mins
Total
2 hrs 5 mins
Yield
2 loaves
Hot Bread Kitchen's Nan-e Barbari (Persian Flatbread)

Instructions

  1. To make the dough: Mix the water, yeast, flour, and salt until well combined. Knead the mixture — using your hands, a stand mixer, or your bread machine set on the dough cycle — until you've made a smooth, fairly soft dough (about 5 to 8 minutes if kneading by hand). The dough should barely clean the inside of the bowl, if you're using a stand mixer, perhaps sticking just a bit at the bottom.

  2. Put the dough in a lightly greased large bowl, cover the bowl, and let the dough rise until it's nearly doubled in size, about 1 hour.

  3. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface. Gently deflate the dough, and divide it into two pieces.

  4. Shape each piece into a rough log about 9" long. Tent (gently cover) the logs with lightly greased plastic wrap, and allow them to rest for 30 minutes.

  5. Preheat the oven to 450°F. If you have a pizza stone, set it on the lowest rack or oven floor. If you'll be using a baking sheet, position a rack in the middle of the oven.

  6. To prepare the glaze: Combine the flour, sugar, oil, and water in a small saucepan, bring to a bare boil, and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens and coats the spoon; this should take less than a minute. Remove the glaze from the heat, and set it aside.

  7. Working with one piece at a time, gently deflate the dough and pat/flatten it into a 14" x 5" rectangle. If you're using a pizza stone, transfer the dough to a semolina-dusted surface (a baker's peel is helpful here) or a piece of parchment paper. If you're not using a pizza stone, transfer the rectangle to a parchment-lined or lightly greased baking sheet.

  8. Use your fingers (or the handle of a long wooden spoon) to press five lengthwise grooves into the dough. Press firmly, but don't cut through the bottom of the dough.

  9. Spread half the glaze onto the dough, rubbing it all over. Sprinkle with half the seeds.

  10. Slide the bread onto the stone and bake it for 15 to 18 minutes, until it's golden brown. If you're not using a stone, place the baking sheet on the rack in the middle of the oven and bake for the same amount of time, 15 to 18 minutes.

  11. While the first loaf is baking, prepare the second loaf. Bake as directed.

  12. Remove the bread, and cool it on a rack.

  13. Serve warm, or at room temperature; traditional accompaniments are olives, cucumbers, and feta cheese.

  14. Store leftovers, well wrapped, for several days at room temperature; freeze for longer storage.

Tips from our Bakers

  • Want to make a delicious, thick-crust, chewy pizza? Prepare the dough up to the point where it's been shaped into two logs, and allowed to rest for 30 minutes. Shape each log into a 14" circle, or 15" x 10" oval. Top as desired. Bake in a preheated 500°F oven for 22 to 25 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and the toppings are bubbling.
  • What's with the flour/water glaze? This is an ancient solution solution to "steaming" your oven. The roomal (flour paste) applies moisture directly to the surface of the bread as it bakes, allowing it to rise fully and also giving the crust a satiny shine.