The July Daring Bakers’ Challenge was brought to us by Manal from Manal’s Bites. She introduced us to an authentic Palestinian dish from Jaffa that is served as a main meal along with a bowl of soup or a salad. The “Yafawi Sfeeha” or also known as “Milwayeh” which means twisted, is crispy yet tender and full of flavor.
I have had a truly terrible week, and am in somewhat of a foul mood at the moment, so I apologise if I don’t really feel like talking about food today and this post gets a bit ranty… Skip straight to the recipe if you like! We were supposed to be going on holiday today to Wacken festival in Germany, everything was booked and paid for (and non-refundable…); but we are unable to go because the British passport office are the biggest bunch of unhelpful incompetents I have ever encountered.
Damian’s passport was up for renewal so we sent it off in (what we thought) was good time before our trip. The passport office has now been processing his application for over nine weeks (and counting)…it should take no more than three weeks to issue a renewal… They knew when we were supposed to be traveling, and we have been in near constant contact with them for six weeks. Apparently Damian was “randomly selected” to undergo extra security checks (for the second time…?!) which involved sending a form out to a counter-signatory, which she never received…They didn’t tell us until last week that they were waiting for the form to be returned (by that point they had sent three…with no attempt to phone anyone to check whether they were being received), so neither we nor the counter-signatory had any idea that a form had even been sent out. They then said that they would send one next day delivery to a different address, they bloody sent it second class post! So it didn’t arrive until Saturday… we were then told that we could make an appointment at the passport office in London, take the completed form with us and they would be able to send it off to the appropriate office and then print the passport there and then… So we traveled to London yesterday, went to the passport office, and they wouldn’t even see us…we were told that no they couldn’t do what we were told they could, they couldn’t issue an emergency travel document and that essentially there was sweet f%k all we could do. Everyone we have spoken to has told us something different, and none of them has seemed to know what is going on. So the long and the short of it is that we are unable to go on holiday and have just wasted £700. Rant Over.
On to the food. This months Daring Bakers challenge was for Yafawi Sfeeha which are a kind of meat pie/bun from Palestine. We were given the option of making a vegetarian version filled with cheese rather than meat so that is what I went for, filling mine with a mixture of grated halloumi cheese (though you could use crumbled feta), egg and parsley. The dough is a sort of un-yeasted bread dough that needs to be stretched out really thin – to the point where you can see through it, before adding the filling and rolling it up. The shaping technique takes a bit of practice to get right but you get the hang of it after you have done a couple. The buns were delicious, especially when served with a bowl of soup. You can find the original recipe here, which has some good step by step photos of the shaping technique, and recipes for a meat filling and for a sweet walnut one.
Yafawi Sfeeha - Palestinian Cheese Buns
- 210 g (1 + 3/4 cups) plain flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tbsp sugar
- 1 1/2 tbsp powdered milk
- 1 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 130 ml (1/2 cup + 1 tbsp) water
- olive oil or ghee for shaping
- 250 g (9 oz) halloumi cheese, grated (or feta, crumbled)
- 1 medium egg beaten
- small handful of fresh flat leaf parsley finely chopped
Place the flour, salt, sugar, powdered milk and vegetable oil in a bowl, gradually add the water until you have a soft, slightly sticky dough. Turn out onto a worksurface and knead for about 10 minutes.
Divide the dough into 8 even pieces and shape into balls, place on a greased tray and cover with oiled clingfilm, leave to rest for at least a couple of hours and up to overnight.
Once the dough has rested make the filling, simply mix together the grated cheese, beaten egg and chopped parsley in a bowl with some freshly ground black pepper. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6.
Grease a worksurface and your hands well with olive oil or ghee; take one ball of dough and use your hands to gently spread it out on the oiled surface into a large, thin circle. You should be able to spread it out to about 25cm (10in) wide and it should be thin enough to see through.
Fold one side of the circle over the middle, then the other, so that the dough is almost folded into thirds.
Spread some of the filling along one edge of the dough, fold the closest side over the top of the filling then roll it up into a tight sausage; coil the sausage up in a spiral shape, place the bun on a baking tray.
Re-grease the worksurface and your hands and repeat with the remaining balls of dough.
Bake for about 20 minutes until golden brown. Serve warm.