Jachnun is made from a dough that is stretched out very thinly, brushed with butter, oil, or margarine, and rolled up like strudel. It started as a Shabbat bread, originally baked in a wood fired oven on a Friday night, and ready on a Saturday morning.
It is traditionally served with hard cooked eggs, grated tomato, and zhug (or skhug), which is a spicy condiment made from chilis, garlic, cilantro, and spices. The eggs are supposed to be cooked in the oven with the Jachnun as well. Here’s an interesting article about the history of Jachnun, as well as how it is currently enjoyed in Israel.
Regarding baking the eggs in the oven for 12 hours….. I had my doubts, but tried baking (or rather sacrificing) two eggs as a test. They were promptly tossed in the trash.
Jachnun are slightly sweet from date syrup and honey. If you don’t have date syrup, you can use all honey, however the date syrup adds a lovely sweet flavor.
These Jachnun are served hot, and are very filling with a faintly sweet flavor. I’m not sure if this is the right way to eat Jachnun, but I liked it thinly sliced and topped with the tomatoes and the zhug.
P.S. It was very weird waking up several times in the middle of the night and wondering why my house smelled like baking bread, and then remembering that these were in the oven!
This recipe was introduced to the Bread Baking Babes by Lien of Notitie van Lien. Judging from the discussions we all had as we gave this recipe a try, it is really important to know whether or not your oven temperature is accurate. I recommend testing your oven with an oven thermometer if you are not sure. Some of the Babes’ Jachnun came out pale, and some had to bake theirs for much longer than the recipe called for. For me, the original 12 hour time frame was just right.
It was fun stepping out of my comfort zone to make this. I liked the flavor of the date syrup too. This bread is very filling, or “hearty.” Also, until you understand how it works in your oven, it can be unpredictable.
If you’d like to give this historic recipe a try, check out this great video on how to stretch out the dough.
- 500 grams bread flour
- 25 grams date syrup (or honey)
- 20 grams honey
- Pinch of baking powder
- 12 grams salt
- 300 grams water (plus or minus)
- 1/4 cup melted butter, margarine, or oil
- Mix the flour, date syrup, honey, baking powder, salt, and water in the bowl of a stand mixer and knead for a few minutes. You can also mix and knead by hand. Let the dough relax for 10 minutes, and then knead again for about 5 minutes. Place the dough into an oiled bowl, cover, and let rest for an hour.
- Preheat your oven to 225 degrees F and place a rack at the lowest position. Line the bottom of a 9 inch by 13 inch cake pan or casserole with with some stale bread and then with parchment paper.
- Divide the dough in to 6 pieces and shape them into balls. Let rest for 10 minutes.
- To stretch the rolls, oil or butter your work surface and place a piece of dough on it. Oil the top of the dough with you hands and begin stretching out the dough. Pull, stretch, and oil the dough until you have it as thin as possible. If you have tears, don’t worry too much. When the dough is very thin, fold it in thirds, like a letter. Oil/butter the top, and roll the dough into a log. See this video. Continue with the rest of the pieces.
- Place each rolled piece of dough on the parchment in a single layer, and top with more parchment paper. Top with a double layer of foil, sealing the top of the pan tightly. Place a sheet pan on top of the foil. Place in the oven overnight, and bake for 12 hours. The Jachnun should be a deep golden brown.
- Serve hot with grated tomato, hard boiled eggs, and zhug (recipe below).
Yield: Makes 6
To make the zhug, process 1 teaspoon chili flakes, 1 teaspoon black pepper, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seeds, 4 garlic cloves, pinch of ground cardamom, pinch of cloves, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and a handful (about 30 grams) of cilantro in the food processor with enough olive oil to make the mixture into a sauce. This can be made in advance and kept in the refrigerator.
Disclosure: I received a small amount of date syrup from D’vash, just in time to make this recipe. How timely was that?!
If you’d like to bake along as a Bread Baking Buddy, check out Lien’s blog for instructions. To check out the rest of the participating Babes’ results, check below. I’ll be adding links as the Babes add their posts.