Breakfast bread

Breakfast bread

New Middle Eastern Food
Mark Roper

These huge oval flaps of golden bread, known as barberi, are enjoyed for breakfast around Iran with clotted cream and honey, fruit conserves, eggs or a warming soup, all equally wonderful. In commercial bakeries, the dough for barberi bread is shaped into large ovals about 60 centimetres long, but for the home baker we suggest making smaller loaves, about half the size. This quantity of dough makes three loaves, sufficient for six people.


Quantity Ingredient
2 teaspoon dried yeast
500ml warm water
750g bakers’ flour
1 tablespoon sea salt
50ml olive oil
fine polenta, for dusting
20g unsalted butter, melted
sesame or nigella seeds, (optional)


  1. Dissolve the yeast in 50 ml of the warm water and set aside in a warm place for 10 minutes.
  2. Combine the flour and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook and make a well in the centre. Mix the oil with the remaining water and stir in the yeast mixture, then gradually work the liquid into the flour. Knead on a slow speed for 10–15 minutes until the dough is smooth, shiny and elastic — add more tepid water if necessary. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, then cover with a damp tea towel and leave to prove in a warm place for 2 hours or until doubled in size.
  3. Preheat the oven to 220ºC. Knock back the dough, then leave to prove for a further 20 minutes. After 10 minutes, put a large, heavy baking tray into the oven for 10 minutes or until very hot.
  4. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and knock back again. Divide into six portions and shape into oval balls. Working with one piece of dough, stretch it into a 30 cm long oval with your hands. If it is easier, roll the dough out lightly with a rolling pin. Scatter a little polenta over the base of the hot baking tray and transfer the stretched piece of dough to the tray. Use a sharp knife or pizza cutter to mark narrowly spaced parallel lines along the length of the dough. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with the seeds of your choice.
  5. Bake for 6–7 minutes, until slightly risen and a rich golden brown. Transfer the cooked loaf to a wooden board and cover with a clean tea towel.
  6. While the bread is baking, prepare the next loaf. Continue with the remaining balls of dough.
  7. Barberi bread is best eaten warm. Alternatively, leave it to cool completely, then wrap in plastic wrap and freeze for up to 1 month. Thaw at room temperature and reheat in a warm oven.
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