It was so special for me to spend the morning with Nava, in her Bondi Beach kitchen, learning the disappearing art of making malawach from scratch. Back in our kitchen the next Monday, we were beside ourselves when our dough stretched to translucent. We rolled and folded it over with buttered hands – as she did – and then burnt our tongues eating the hot, flaky bread straight from the frying pan. ~ Lisa, MMCC
- 1 kg plain flour
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp sea salt
- 180 g (½ cup) honey or 110 g (½ cup) sugar
- 625 ml (2½ cups) water
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 375 g unsalted butter, softened or melted
- sesame seeds, to garnish
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Resting time: 1 hour 30 minutes
In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt. Make a well in the centre and add the honey (or sugar) and water and gradually incorporate the flour with a wooden spoon until a dough is formed. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured benchtop or into an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook and knead for 10–15 minutes or until a smooth elastic dough is formed, adding a little extra flour every so often, if needed. Cover the benchtop with a little of the vegetable oil and give the dough a few extra minutes of kneading on the film of oil, until it is very smooth and soft and bounces back a little when you indent it with your finger. It should be a little sticky but not stick to your hands.
Spread 3 tsp of the oil over a baking tray. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces. Knead each piece for a minute or two on the lightly oiled benchtop, adding a little extra oil to the benchtop if necessary, then shape it into a ball. Place the ball on the tray and slide it around to coat with oil.
Repeat with the remaining balls. With your hands, spread the remaining oil over the tops of the balls, flattening each one slightly as you do so, so they are all covered with oil.
Cover the tray with plastic wrap so it is airtight and allow to rest for at least 1 hour.
To make the malawach, prepare the benchtop by spreading some of the softened butter over a large work area (or brushing with melted butter).
Take 1 piece of the dough and place it on the buttered benchtop. Slowly and carefully flatten and stretch the piece, lifting, pulling and stretching the outer edges away from the centre, to form a very large, wide, almost-translucent rectangular shape, about 75 × 60 cm.
Take a knob of the softened butter in your hands and smear all over your fingers and palms. Gently dab your hands flat onto the dough, covering the entire surface with a thin film of butter. (Alternatively, brush the dough with the melted butter.)
Fold the left side of the dough across to cover the centre one-third of the rectangle, then fold the right side on top of it, so you now have a smaller rectangle. Dab more butter across the surface of the rectangle. Fold the top edge down and keep folding over and over, pressing slightly to flatten after each fold.
Once the folding is finished, flatten and stretch the rolled dough slightly, then roll it up tightly, like a snail, starting at one of the short sides. Cover with plastic wrap. Repeat with all the pieces, then allow the rolls to rest for about 30 minutes.
When ready to cook the malawach, use a 20 cm (8 inch) non-stick frying pan. Remove a roll, place it on the buttered benchtop and stretch the dough gently with your hands, pulling and pushing until flat and just slightly bigger than the pan. Heat the frying pan over medium – high heat and add 1 teaspoon of the butter. When sizzling, fry the malawach for about 5 minutes on each side or until golden brown and cooked through. You may need to reduce the heat if the malawach is browning too fast before cooking in the middle.
Repeat with the remaining rolls of dough.
The finished malawach can be reheated by wrapping in foil and placing in a 200°C oven for 15 minutes. Serve either sweet or savoury – drizzled with honey and cinnamon ricotta or with hard-boiled eggs, finely diced tomatoes and zhoug.
Recipe and image from It’s Always About the Food by the Monday Morning Cooking Club (Harper Collins, hb, $49.99).