Syrian Onion Bread

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On a visit to Barnes and Nobles, my hubby bought The best ever book of Bread by Christine Ingram. You know I am a bread addict, and love to bake bread. This book is full of colorful photos and information about a large variety of breads.  I have to try a lot of bread, and it will take a few years to finish that book.  While turning the pages I fell in love with this bread. So decide to bake first.
In the last one year, Syria is now known for its war, however it’s earlier known for its deserts and ancient ruins, and just like any other country its has its own cooking. The capital city is Damascus and other main cities are Aleppo and Homs. According to Wikipedia Syrian onion bread comes under the part of appetizer in Damascus cuisine. Za’atr is the major spice blend commonly used in the Middle East, with its regional differences (just like Garam Masala from India). Za’atr from Damascus is less sharp and peppery than the version from Aleppo. I bought a pack of za’atr spice blend however has not used yet this. This bread recipe doesn’t require that.
While looking at the recipe I   found similarities with single-layered manaqish, Lebanon’s breakfast bread, in the way of using topping and also shape similar to   any round Arabic bread  and look similar to  our own Bilays.
One afternoon, while babies were taking a cat nap I started making the dough. I used both All – purpose flour and bread flour to make it less chewy. If you want to follow the original recipe you use only the bread flour.  I found that recipe measurements were little off, so I corrected by my own intrusion and increased the filling amount, however reduced the coriander powder amount as my hubby is not fond of it, and added a little chili powder. While baking bread, it was giving out intoxicating aroma with all onion and mint, cumin, coriander and red chili powder.  It was so delicious when it was out the oven.  With my corrected version I was able to get 9 bread, however I will ask you to make 12 bread so it will be less thicker than mine.
Next day too they are fine, but one thing I found that topping have the some age old problem with bread, they started coming off if you tilt or turn the bread, so you have to eat bread holding upright position. My original idea was to eat it with soup or curry, but when we started eating them, we ate it just like that without any add-on. If you want a change from your usual breads, try this.
Here goes the recipe.
At first make the dough using all purpose, bread flour, salt, and yeast. I used instant yeast. If possible weigh the flour and other ingredients. 
In a bowl of kitchen aid stand mixer dump all flour, salt, yeast and water gradually to form smooth dough and knead for about 10 minutes.
Transfer to lightly greased bowl and set aside for rise or yeast to do its job.  Once it doubled in volume, it took about 75 minutes. Transfer to well floured surface and divide into 9 -12equal pieces.        
Flat it into a circular disc of about   5-6 inch round, prick all over using fork and transfer to baking sheets cover with a kitchen towel and set aside for another rise to 20 minutes. 
Preheat oven to  400F
In a small bowl add chopped onion, mint, cumin, coriander powder and chili powder and mix everything so that spices get mixed well. 
When you are ready for baking, brush circles with olive oil and sprinkle topping mixture while sprinkle do it  from little height to get uniform topping.  Bake for about 30 minutes or until sides becomes brown.
Serve warm.
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Syrian Onion Bread

Adapted from  The Best Ever Book of Bread by Christine Ingram  and Jennie Shapter

Prep Time    20 minutes
Rise Time    : First time 75 minutes, Second rise: 20 minutes
Bake Time:  30 minutes
Serves    9-12 no.


2 cup/ 280g/ All purpose flour
2 cup/ 320g/ Bread flour
2 ½ teaspoon/8g Instant yeast
1 teaspoon /5g Salt

            10.5 oz  /1-1/8 cup Water
             2 tablespoon Olive oil

           1/2  cup Chopped Onion
           2 tablespoon chopped mint
           1 ¼ teaspoon  Cumin powder
           1 ¼ teaspoon  Coriander powder
            1/4  teaspoon Red Chili Powder

In a bowl of kitchen aid stand mixer  add both flour, salt and yeast and gradually add to water to form a sticky  dough.

            Knead the dough for about 8-10 minutes to form smooth dough.

          Transfer the dough to lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap  and  set aside for rise  

          or   doubled in volume. It  took about 75 minutes.
            Punch down the dough and turn into lightly floured work bench. Divide the dough(934g) into 
        9-12 pieces.  Roll it into 5-6 inch round. Make them slightly concave. Prick the disc with fork all 
        over to  prevent  puffing in the oven.
            Space the rolled disc into lightly floured baking sheet with  1-2 inch space in between. Set 
     aside  covering with kitchen towel for about 20 minutes.
           While dough  is  doing its second rise .

            Preheat oven to  400F

           In a small bowl add chopped onion, mint, cumin, coriander powder and chili powder and mix everything  so that spices get mixed well.
           When you are ready for baking, brush circles with olive oil and sprinkle topping mixture while sprinkle do it  from little height to get uniform topping.  Bake for about 30 minutes or until sides becomes brown.

            Serve warm.


    • Skip Chili powder if you want  follow original recipe.

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  1. says

    This onion bread looks superb!I can bet that ur house must have been filled with the wonderful aroma while the bread was fluffing in the oven:-) Yeast and me are not good friends..:-(

  2. says

    These are absolutely perfect Swathi! I love the seasonings! You’re such a talented bread baker. I haven’t had a chance to tell you but I love the theme for this month’s baking partners. It is something I need to really work on.

  3. says

    Wow. They look simply amazing. This bread was in my do list
    for a long time. Now after seeing ur beautiful post i am sure going to
    Try it soon. Ur clicks looks amazing. And the bread is perfectly baked.

  4. says

    A great presentation with lovely detailed instructions. These are reminding me of pizzettes (miniature single-serve pizza)a little. I like the topping and agree you have to be careful of losing portions of topping. Man alive, when you said bialy it brought back memories, I haven’t had one in years (decades). Used to could find them wherever bagels were sold.
    When it comes to bread you are the foremost authority. James Beard has nothin’ on you.
    Thank You.

  5. says

    Wow…just look at all these comment for your amazing and perfectly yummy Syrian bread. Just love, love, this kind of bread, especially the amazing onion, topping with the spices, and mint. Yumm!!!