Manakish (Manakeesh) with Za’atar and Cheese
Manakish or Manakeesh is a Middle Eastern flatbread pizza topped with za’atar and shredded cheese. The bread is so fluffy! These are perfect for breakfast or brunch with a warm mug of tea!
Warm and fluffy manakish is one of my favorite breakfasts!
My favorite local Middle Eastern grocery store here in town makes them fresh and it’s rare that I don’t grab a pack every time I make the drive out there. I’ll warm it up in the air fryer or in a skillet until it heats through, and it’s perfect for a quick breakfast with a coffee. So easy and so portable!
Manakish comes with all sorts of toppings. You can get them as za’atar manakish so it’s topped with a za’atar seasoning and olive oil paste. You can also get cheese manakish. Typically akawi cheese is placed on top and the bread it baked until it’s golden and the cheese melts. My personal favorite is manakish topped with both za’atar and cheese.
I know manakeesh is typically eaten for breakfast or brunch, but it also makes a great addition to a mezze platter or an appetizer for a party!
How do you pronounce manakish?
Manakish is actually pronounced manaeesh (man–na–eesh) or basically, with the ‘k’ being silent.
Ingredients to make Manakish:
- Flour: I like to use a 50:50 blend of all-purpose flour and bread flour for this recipe. Bread flour contains a higher amount of protein. The higher amount of protein allows for slightly more gluten to develop than if we were to use only the all-purpose. The higher gluten production will produce a slightly chewier texture in the bread dough.
- Yeast: using instant yeast helps the manakish dough rise more rapidly, and you don’t have to go through the process of activating the yeast, so it cuts down on prep time.
- Sugar: we’ll add a tablespoon of sugar to the bread dough. This will act as food for the yeast and keep it happy, happy!
- Milk Powder: gives the manakish a bakery-like tenderness and produces a a golden brown crust. The milk powder also allows the bread to stay softer longer, so leftovers keep well!
- Kosher Salt: adds flavor to the dough.
- Yogurt: adds a slight tang and tons of softness to the dough.
- Oil: improves the texture and moisture of the bread. Along with the milk power it also allows the bread to maintain its freshness for longer.
- Water: warm water helps the yeast wake up quickly thus cutting down on the amount of time it takes for the dough to rise.
- Toppings: I like to use both a za’atar mixed with olive oil and lots of shredded akawi cheese. Za’atar spice is a Middle Eastern seasoning blend that contains dried thyme, toasted sesame seeds, cumin, sumac, and a few other ingredients. You can also use a combination of shredded mozzarella and fetacheese which will produce a taste similar to akawi cheese.
Instructions for manakish:
- Make the dough. Combine the dry ingredients for the dough in the bowl of a stand mixer. Then add the wet ingredients and continue to mix by hand, using a dough whisk, or in a stand mixer until the dogh is smooth and elastic. If the dough is dry, add an additional tablespoon of water. If the dough is too wet, you can add a tablespoon of flour until the dough come together.
- Let the dough rise. Add the dough to a well oiled large mixing bowl, cover, and let it rise in a warm and dark place. This might sound weird but oftentimes, I’ll let the dough rise in the dryer is the oven is occupied! If your oven has a proof setting, use it!
- Roll and top. When there are 10 minutes let in the dough rising time, preheat the oven. If you’re using a pizza stone/steel, you want it to preheat in the oven while the oven heats up. Divide the dough out into 8 pieces. Once divided, flatten the dough and roll it out. You want it to be roughly a 6 inch circle that is 1/2-inch in thickness. Transfer the dough a baking sheet sprayed with oil or a floured pizza peel if you’re bakign these directly on a pizza stone/steel. Make sure you dimple the dough with your fingertips. This will help keep the dough from rising in the oven and give the za’atar mixture little pockets to sink into.
- Make the topping. In a bowl, stir together the za’atar and olive oil. Spread roughly 2 tablespoons of this on the dough leaving a 1/4 inch border around the dough. Sprinkle the cheese on top. Place the baking sheet in the oven or slowly slide the manakish onto the pizza stone. Bake for 5-6 minutes if you’re making these directly on a stone, or for 6-10 minutes if you’re bakign these on a baking sheet. Serve warm on a mezze board for appetizers or with a warm mug of tea for breakfast or brunch!
FAQs about homemade manakish:
- What is akawi cheese? Akawi cheese has a mild salty taste. It’s a white cheese that is similar in texture to mozzarella and feta.
- Can I use just zaatar and skip the cheese? Yes, ofcourse! If you plan on using just the za’atar mixture, I would suggest cutting some of olive oil oil with something high heat, like avocado oil or sunflower oil so that it doesn’t burn from being exposed in the oven!
- Can I use active dry yeast instead of instant? You can but you’ll need to bloom the yeast first. add the warm water, sugar, and yeast to a bowl, stir, and let sit for a few minutes to allow the yeast to foam up. If it doesn’t foam after the first 10 minutes, the yeast may be expired. Keep in mind that the dough might also take longer to rise if youre using active dry yeast than the time listed.
- What if I don’t have milk powder? I usually always have some at home and definitely suggest keeping it you bake often! It does wonders to my cinnamon rolls. If you don’t have milk powder, you can swap half of the water for warm milk instead.
- Can I make these ahead of time and refrigerate or freeze them? Yes! With it just being the two of us, I’ll make a batch, pop some in the refrigerator in an air tight container and then the rest get placed between sheets of wax paper and then placed in a freezer bag and frozen. I like to heat them from frozen in a skillet over low heat, or in the air fryer or oven at 300ºF for 5-10 minutes.
- Can I make manakish in an outdoor pizza oven? Yes! I’ve made them on an outdoor pizza oven and they are FABULOUS! You will need to make a couple of changes though! You’ll want to swap about 50% of the oil in the za’atar mixture with a high heat oil. Since a woodfire pizza oven usually heats up to 750ºF, the olive oil might burn! The second change is that it will only take 1-2 minutes to cook the manakish all the way through. Make sure to turn it so that it cooks evenly.
If you like this recipe, you might also like:
- Extra Smooth Hummus
- Homemade Shawarma Seasoning
- Lebanese Meat Stuffed Pitas (Arayes)
- Fattoush Salad
- Beef Shawarma Bowls
- 1 ½ cups bread flour
- 1 ½ cups AP flour (or use 3 cups total and skip bread flour)
- 1 tablespoon EACH: instant yeast AND sugar
- 1 tablespoon dry milk powder (or replace ½ cup water with milk)
- 1 ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons plain yogurt
- 3 tablespoons oil (such as avocado, sunflower etc.)
- 1 cup warm water, plus more (105ºF)
- 1 ¼ cups zaa’tar seasoning
- 1 cup olive oil (scant)
- 3 cups shredded Akawi cheese (or 50:50 mozzarella and feta)
- MAKE DOUGH: In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the dry ingredients and whisk to combine. Combine the yogurt, oil, and warm water in a measuring cup with a whisk, then add to the mixing bowl. With hands, a dough whisk, or in a stand mixer set on speed 4, knead the dough for 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic. The dough shouldn’t be sticky when you poke it with your finger. It also shouldn’t be too dry or crumbly. If it is, you can use 1-2 more tablespoons of water and mix it into the dough well.
- LET IT RISE: Gather and form a dough ball. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover, and let sit in a warm place to prove for 45 minutes or until doubled in size (see notes.) When 10 minutes are remaining, position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 500ºF. If your preparing this on a pizza stone/steel, allow it to preheat in the oven.
- ROLL: Divide dough into 8 equal dough balls. Once divided, flatten the dough by rolling it out into a 6-inch circle that is ½ inch in thickness. If the dough sticks to the counter, use a sprinkle of flour on the surface and the rolling pin. If the dough doesn’t give, cover with a tea towel and let rest 10 minutes. Dimple the dough with your fingers pushing all the way down so that the dough doesn’t rise too much in the oven. Transfer to a sheet pan sprayed with oil spray or to a floured peel before topping.
- TOP: Combine the zaa’tar and olive oil in a small bowl. Spread roughly 2 tablespoons on the dough leaving a ¼ inch border. Then sprinkle with cheese. If you are baking these on a sheet pan, spray a nonstick sheet pan with cooking spray. Place 1-3 manakish on the sheet pan (whatever fits comfortably.)
- BAKE: Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake. The pizza steel takes 5-6 minutes for the dough to cook through and the cheese to melt, baking on a sheet pan will take longer; about 6-10 minutes to cook through. Serve warm!