Msemmen is one of the best Moroccan foods that exist – and of course it would be because essentially it's Moroccan fried bread. Typically they are made two times a day; for breakfast or in the mid-afternoon for snack/coffee time. You will find both a sweet and savory version of these.
The sweet version is topped with melted butter and honey. While the savory version is stuffed with spices and fat and cooked making something akin to a pizza or Indian paratha. I have recently learned to make these exactly as my mother and sister in laws would do so and have taken to making a batch every other weekend for the freezer.
How to Make Moroccan Msemmen
I highly advise you to set aside some time to do this. The first time can be a little frustrating and this isn't a great recipe to tackle if you've got a bunch of other things going on. Make sure to gather all of your ingredients first and prepare a large, clean workspace to spread out your work. I find that a large clean kitchen counter space works best – and then to work directly on the counter. It's a little more of a hassle to clean up but having the big space makes the folding and flattening faster.
This recipe is not easy to master. In fact it takes a few tries to really get the process down. A few tips that might help you;
- don't be afraid to use oil and butter. This is not a health food recipe. The oil and butter is what helps you make the layers very thin before folding. If the layers aren't thin enough then you will just end up with a chunk of bread.
- Cut the recipe in half if you're unsure. That way you will work with a smaller batch and won't use up too many ingredients before you master the technique.
- There are different methods and variations of ingredients used to make this across Morocco. Feel free to mix it up based on the region you're familiar with.
- You can try to make this using whole wheat flour but the texture will be much firmer so don't knead it as much in the beginning.
- 3½ cups flour (340 g)
- ½ cup fine semolina (90g)
- 2 tsp sugar
- 2 tsp salt
- 1 teaspoon yeast
- 1½ cups warm water (approx. ⅓ liter)
Ingredients for Folding Bread
- 1½ cups vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup fine semolina
- ¼ cup very soft unsalted butter
- Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
- Add 1½ cups of warm water, and mix to form a dough. Add more water if necessary to make a dough that is soft and easy to knead, but not sticky.
- If the dough is too sticky to handle, add a little flour one tablespoon at a time.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knead by hand for 10 minutes, (or knead the dough in a stand mixer with dough hook for 5 minutes), until the dough is very smooth and elastic.
- Set a bowl of the melted/soft butter and some oil aside. Cover your hands with oil. Begin by dividing the dough into golf ball size balls.
- Continue until all the dough is divided.
- Starting with the first ball you made, add more of the butter mixture to your hands and work surface. Flatten the ball to a very, very thin layer.
- Rub some oil on top, and fold into thirds.
- Add some more oil and sprinkle some semolina on the strip and fold again into thirds.
- You should now have a small square of dough. Continue through the remaining balls.
- Heat up a skillet and add a small amount of oil to the pan. Keep it on a medium heat. Starting with the first “package” that you assembled, oil your hands and begin flattening the dough. It should be thin and remain in a square shape. Do not overwork or the layers meld together.
- Place into the warm skillet and cook until golden brown and slightly crunchy on he outside. If it does not turn to a golden color, you are not using enough oil.