of Cooking by Barbara Abdeni Massaad
the book: book Manoushé - Inside the Street Corner
the recipes included in this book have been tested in a
conventional oven. The most important factor to take into
consideration is to pre-heat the oven for at least 15 to
20 minutes before baking the pies. This is imperative for
best results. It is also important to use the bottom rack
of the oven. If you wish, you can use a baking stone or
a baking sheet to cook directly on a hot surface. I personally
use crisping pans with holes and get very good results every
traditional way to cook is on the convex metal disc (saj).
I highly recommend it, not only for added flavor, but to
live through the ritual itself. The first time may be a
bit difficult, but with practice it becomes quite simple.
In the past, the convex disc was set on stones and dry branches
were burnt under the disc. Today, you can find an apparatus
where a gas burner can control the intensity of the heat.
mother once gave me a pan that is made of heavy cast iron.
She bakes her bread on the griddle on the stovetop instead
of using a large convex disc (saj). She had the griddle
made by a skilled craftsman. I use it all the time. You
can substitute the griddle with a pan especially designed
for cooking pancakes.
Tip: The convex disc and the griddle need to be pre-heated
before use. This will disinfect the surface and make crispier
dough. Spray water when surface is hot and in between the
cooking of different pies. The water will evaporate immediately.
Don't ever wash the convex disc or the griddle with heavy
soap and water. When not in use, coat the surface with a
pastry brush dipped in vegetable oil to prevent rusting.
Lebanon, it is common to make one's mixture and take it
to the neighborhood baker to have him/her bake it in his/her
oven. The baker spreads the mixture on the prepared dough,
lays the pies on wooden paddles, and bakes them in the hot
burning oven. The baker's oven is special because it preserves
the heat inside. It has a very hot floor, thus the pie cooks
quickly and evenly. The scorching air causes the dough to
form bubbles, a typical characteristic of the man'oushé.
In the past, burning wood or fuel oil was used to feed the
fire. Today, flames are ignited on both sides of the oven
by gas fuel.
clay oven (tannur) is in the form of a large barrel. It
is another traditional way of cooking bread. The clay oven
is built in a hole in the ground. The inner sides of the
barrel are covered with clay. The core of the oven is left
unpolished. It is heated with dry wooden branches. In the
past, baking bread in the clay oven was a collective activity
done amongst women of the village. The dough is stuck on
the inner sides of the clay oven with the help of a cushion
(Kara). One minute later, deliciously scented bread comes
out steaming with flavor. Today, baking in a clay oven is
a rarity, but one very much appreciated.