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Maneesh is a classic flatbread from the Middle East, eaten as part of a mezze; it’s also a popular breakfast bread. The dough is spread with za’atar, a strong mix of aromatic herbs and sesame seeds, then baked in a hot oven.

As you bite into it the crunchy top is a lovely contrast to the softness of the dough inside. I love the fact that this bread is a part of cultures that go back thousands of years and yet remains an everyday food of today.


  • 500g strong white bread

  • flour, plus extra for

  • dusting

  • 10g salt

  • 25g caster sugar

  • 10g fast-action dried yeast

  • 20ml olive oil, plus extra

  • for oiling

  • 360ml tepid water

  • For the za’atar topping

  • 3 tbsp sesame seeds

  • 2 tbsp dried thyme

  • 1 tbsp dried marjoram

  • 2½ tbsp olive oil


  • 1.

    Put the flour into a large bowl and add the salt and sugar to one side of the bowl and the yeast to the other. Add the olive oil and 270ml of the water. Mix the ingredients together, using the fingers of one hand. Add the remaining water a little at a time until you have a smooth, soft dough and you’ve picked up all the flour from the sides of the bowl; you may not need all the water.

  • 2.

    Pour a little oil onto a work surface and place the dough on it. Knead for 5–10 minutes or until you have a smooth, elastic dough. When the dough is soft, smooth and stretchy, shape it into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover and leave to rise until at least doubled in size – at least 1 hour.

  • 3.

    Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knock back by folding the dough in on itself repeatedly until all the air is knocked out. Divide into 3 equal pieces and shape each into a ball. Now roll each into a large circle, 23cm in diameter. Place on 2 or 3 baking trays (lined with baking parchment or silicone paper if they are not non-stick).

  • 4.

    For the topping, in a bowl, mix the sesame seeds and herbs with the olive oil to a thick paste. Spread over the surface of the breads with one hand. Leave to rest for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, heat your oven to 230°C.

  • 5.

    Bake the breads in the middle of the oven for about 15 minutes until golden. Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool.


This recipe is from the cookbook Paul Hollywood’s Bread

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