Recipe courtesy of Yumna Jawad

Cheese Manakeesh

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Cheese manakeesh, or mana’eesh, is a Middle Eastern flatbread topped with shredded Akawi cheese, which is similar to whole-milk mozzarella. This is a Lebanese-style manakeesh that I learned how to make from my mother. It’s easy to prepare from scratch, but you can also use a 1-pound ball of store-bought pizza dough (or your favorite pizza dough recipe).
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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 1 hr 40 min
  • Active: 30 min
  • Yield: 4 to 6 servings
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Ingredients

Dough:

Assembly:

Directions

  1. For the dough: Place the yeast in a large bowl. Add the warm water and stir until the yeast dissolves. Set aside until the mixture foams and the yeast activates, about 10 minutes.
  2. Add the olive oil, salt and sugar and mix with a wooden spoon until combined. Wait a few minutes, then add the flour and mix until the dough becomes shaggy and you’re no longer able to mix. 
  3. Transfer the dough to a floured surface, reserving the bowl, and knead by hand until it feels soft and stretchy, about 5 to 7 minutes. (Make sure you knead the dough enough. A properly kneaded dough will allow you to later shape it into smaller balls without it breaking.) Form a tight ball.  
  4. Coat the reserved bowl with oil, then place the dough back in the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap or a towel and set aside at room temperature to rise for 60 minutes. 
  5. When the dough is almost ready, preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 
  6. For the assembly: Divide the dough into 8 to 12 equal pieces, depending on how large you’d like the manakeesh, and place on the baking sheet. Use your fingers to spread each piece into a round flat disc about 1 1/2 inches thick. Top each disc with an equal amount of the cheese. 
  7. Bake until the dough is lightly golden and puffs slightly, about 10 to 12 minutes. Enjoy warm with fresh mint (if using). 

Cook’s Note

You can use bread flour instead of all-purpose flour, if you like. The higher protein level lends a crunchier exterior. If you can’t find Akawi cheese, substitute mozzarella. Either way, don’t use pre-shredded cheese. Freshly shredded cheese will have more pull without stiffening up immediately after baking.

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