My Tafernout Experiment
So it’s taken me a while… I know I promised I would give tafernout recipe a try and share it on the blog but I’ve been functioning on my pregnancy brain, which means that on top of being forgetful, foggy, clumsy and sleepy, I’ve also been slower at getting things done. Sigh…
Let’s rewind a little …. Tafernout is a Moroccan flatbread with gorgeous dents all over. The latter result from baking the bread on hot pebbles which act like a pizza stone in retaining and concentrating heat and give the bread a beautiful crust and golden brown dimples.
Making tafernout wasn’t easy; it is not a bread that’s typically made at home therefore there was no reference for me to base my experiment on, no recipes I could look at for general guidelines as I develop my own, no calling Mom and asking for tips. I wasn’t sure which stones to use, what temperature to bake the bread in, whether to flip it or not…
It was uncertainty all along but it was such a fun experiment, and most importantly, it wasn’t bad for a first try! And we ate it! And we liked it! It was soft like pita inside but crusty on the edges and in the dimples. Victory! For a first time, at least. I know my kitchen will see subsequent experiments to perfect it.
Villagers in Morocco use riverbed stones to bake tafernout. I didn’t know which ones but figured they probably don’t give the matter much attention and collect whichever river pebbles they find. Cookbook author Paula Wolfert and Tunisian Chef Taieb Dridi only warned against slate, silex and other brittle stones which may crack at high temperatures. I headed to Home Depot and asked for river pebbles, the gentleman who works there handed me a hefty twenty-pound bag (much more than I needed but it only cost $3.59 and I thought I could use the rest of the pebbles for my backyard). I asked him if they were treated and he reassured they were organic. As a matter of fact they still had river soil on them. It would have been more fun to collect the pebbles myself but there aren’t any rivers close to where I live.
I brought the pebbles home, filled a bucket with about five pounds and pressure-washed them in the backyard. I boiled the pebbles for an hour, then soaked them in cold water overnight. If you plan to make tafernout, do some preparation ahead and get your pebbles shiny and clean the day before.
Yield: 2 large breads
Prep Time: 10 minutes + rising time
Cook Time: 8 minutes
Tafernout is great for dipping and can be used as a more exotic alternative to pita in different appetizers and sandwiches.
The recipe I made uses whole wheat but making tafernout with all-purpose flour will give more authentic results.
I used the same ingredients as here.
Getting the pebbles ready
Pressure-wash the pebbles.
Bring a pot of water to a boil. Boil the pebbles over medium-high heat for 1 hour. Drain and let cool.
Soak the pebbles in cold water overnight. Air dry or towel dry the pebbles.
Line a baking sheet (NOT non-stick—you don’t want to ruin the surface with the pebbles) with a single layer of pebbles.
Place the baking sheet with pebbles on the center rack of the oven.
Preheat the oven at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for 20-30 minutes.
Make your favorite bread recipe (I used this one to make two large breads). Let it rise. On a floured surface, flatten it into 10- to 12-inch discs about ¼ of an inch thick. Carefully transfer the first bread with both hands or two spatulas onto the pebbles. Bake for 8 to 9 minutes or until you can see golden brown spots on top. Shake the bread lightly to detach it from the pebbles. Reheat the pebbles for 5 minutes before adding subsequent breads.
Enjoy tafernout immediately, if not sooner.
Other flatbread recipes: