Za'atar & Cheese Bread 
خبز بالزعتر والجبنة

Have you ever tried baking with fresh oregano? Wow. Oregano is one of those herbs that you'll find in my kitchen all the time. I love to add it to cheese mana'eesh (flatbreads) and salads. But this time, I've got a carb loaded recipe for you that will blow your mind! 

Za'atar and cheese bread. The za'atar I'm referring to here is fresh oregano, not the spice blend with oregano, salt, sesame seeds and sumac. 

My grandma would always make these amazing za'atar rolls that she would serve with mint tea for breakfast. But, they are also the perfect snack that I grab anytime of day! 

Try this recipe, you won't regret it. But I'm warning you, you'll need your stretchy pants after ;) 

Sahtain! 

Za'atar & Cheese Bread 

Servings: 8

Prep Time: 2 hours 20 minutes 

Cook Time: 20 minutes 

Ingredients: 

3.5 cups bread flour

1 packet yeast  

1/2 cup warm water, at approximately 115*F 

1/2 cup olive oil 

3/4 cup warm milk 

2 teaspoons sugar 

1 teaspoon salt 

2.5 cups Nabulsi cheese, crumbled 

1.5 cups loosely packed whole oregano leaves

Directions: 

1) In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine yeast, water, and sugar. Let it stand for 5 minutes until the yeast activates. 

2) To the yeast mixture, add the bread flour, salt, milk, and olive oil. Knead on medium speed for 3-4 minutes. Increase the speed of the mixer to high and knead the dough for an additional 5 minutes. 

3) Add the cheese and oregano to the dough and knead until well combined, about 1 minute on high speed. 

4) Place dough in an oiled bowl. Cover and place in a warm place. Let the dough rise for 2 hours, or until it has doubled in size. 

5) Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces. Shape the dough into circles, or knots, and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. 

6) Bake in a 450*F preheated oven for 15-18 minutes, or until golden brown. 

7) Let cool for 20 minutes and enjoy! Sahtain :) 

Notes:

- It's really important to use bread flour for this recipe. Bread flour is milled from hard spring wheat, which has a higher protein content than all-purpose flour. Protein adds strength to dough and helps breads to rise high. Also, the high amount of gluten in bread flour creates a more elastic dough, which gives you a lighter and chewier bread. 

- It's extremely important to add the sugar to the yeast mixture. Yeast doesn't need the help of sugar to activate, yeast already uses the sugar in the flour for that. However, I add the sugar to the yeast mixture so I know that my yeast is working properly. Sugar is what creates the bubbles that tell you your yeast is good to go. 

- Add the salt when you add the flour to your yeast mixture. DO NOT add the salt at the beginning when you're activating the yeast. Salt can actually kill the yeast at that point. So, wait until the yeast has activated and you're adding in all the other ingredients. 

- You can shape this bread in any shape you prefer, or bake them as round buns. I find that the round buns bake softer than any other shape.