This recipe is for basic Moroccan white bread, often referred to as force, the same French word used by many Moroccans for strong white flour. It also is called khobz (or kessra or aghroum) and is characterized by a round, flat shape and a slightly coarse texture.
Outside Morocco, you can use all-purpose flour, but it's preferable to use bread flour or high-gluten flour in the States, as they'll yield the best results. Vary this recipe by substituting other flours for some of the white, or try this Moroccan whole-wheat bread recipe.
Khobz is used primarily to scoop up tagines and other foods but it also is excellent as a sandwich bread. Smaller loaves can be cut in half and then stuffed; larger loaves can be cut into wedges which can then be gently pried open and stuffed.
- 4 cups flour (high-gluten or bread flour preferred)
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon yeast (active dry)
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 1/4 cups warm water
- Prepare two baking sheets by lightly oiling them or by dusting the pans with a little cornmeal or semolina.
- Mix the flour, salt, and sugar in a large bowl. Make a large well in the center of the flour mixture and add the yeast.
- Add the oil and the water to the well, stirring with your fingers to dissolve the yeast first, and then stirring the entire contents of the bowl to incorporate the water into the flour.
- Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and begin kneading the dough, or use a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. If necessary, add flour or water in very small amounts to make the dough soft and pliable, but not sticky. Continue kneading for 10 minutes by hand (or 5 minutes by machine), or until the dough is very smooth and elastic.
- Divide the dough in half and shape each portion into a smooth circular mound. (If you prefer, you can divide the dough into four to six smaller loaves instead.) Place the dough onto the prepared pans, cover with a towel and allow it to rest for 10 to 15 minutes.
- After the dough has rested, use the palm of your hand to flatten the dough into circles about 1/4-inch thick. Cover with a towel and let rise about 1 hour (longer in a cold room), or until the dough springs back when pressed lightly with a finger.
- Heat an oven to 435 F/225 C.
- Create steam vents by scoring the top of the bread with a very sharp knife or by poking the dough with a fork in several places. Bake the bread for about 20 minutes—rotating the pans about halfway through the baking pans—or until the loaves are nicely colored and sound hollow when tapped. Transfer the bread to a rack or towel-lined basket to cool.
Note: Leftover bread is best frozen if it will not be consumed the same day.
More About Khobz
Although often referred to as flatbread, bakery-made Moroccan bread is often well over an inch thick, making it look more like a circular free-form loaf than what many would consider "flat." The larger the loaf, of course, the flatter the khobz will appear, but still a far cry from much thinner leavened flatbreads such as naan, pita and injera.
No matter the thickness, the disc shape of khobz allows for lots of crust, which is ideal for dipping and scooping up tagines, salads, and other Moroccan dishes. The crust is so preferred, in fact, that many Moroccans will remove and discard the soft interior from thicker loaves of bread.