One thing you don’t really see in this space are savoury recipes. So I don’t need to explain how much of a sweet tooth I have. And it goes without saying that almost inevitably I start my days with a sweet breakfast, be it porridge with fruit and honey or maple syrup, a slice of homemade sourdough with jam or marmalade or whatever is left from recipe-testing from the weekend before. But, born and raised in Germany, I actually grew up on savoury breakfasts.
One of my favourite savoury breakfasts (and a dish I happily eat for lunch and dinner as well) is shakshuka. Shakshuka doesn’t really need an introduction anymore given how popular a brunch dish it has become over the last years. And who can argue with eggs poached in a spicy tomato sauce with plenty of bread on the side to mop up that delicious sauce?
For a while now, I have been meaning to come up with a breakfast pastry or flatbread involving shakshuka. Basically, I wanted a more portable version of shakshuka. When I started thinking about this, I really struggled with the type of dough or pastry I wanted to use. To help me figure this out, I turned to google. While I did not really come across any examples of shakshuka pastries or flatbreads, I did come across numerous articles chronicling other people’s trips to Jerusalem. And that is how I first came across Kachapuri and what led to the recipe below.
Kachapuri are cheese-filled pastries of Georgian origin. They are made with a yeasted dough that is enriched with eggs and yoghurt. As it turns out there is a rather famous Georgian restaurant in downtown Jerusalem which serves Kachapuri (and which is why my search for shakshuka pastries and flatbreads not only threw up posts on people eating shakshuka in Jerusalem but also threw up posts on Kachapuri). It is so popular a snack in Jerusalem, Ottolenghi in fact included a recipe for Kachapuri in his book ‘Jerusalem’. Given this, it only felt right to use the same dough that is traditionally used for Kachapuri for these Shakshuka Flatbreads.
And I am glad I did. Ottolenghi’s recipe for the Kachapuri dough is great – the dough is an absolute dream to work with, transforming itself from a craggy and sticky mess into a smooth and elastic ball of dough in no time. Plus, the dough bakes up beautifully, not unlike pizza dough, and yet is sturdy enough to hold its own against a wet filling like shakshuka.If you time it right with this recipe, you can prepare the dough and the shakshuka in the evening, letting the dough proof overnight in the fridge. All you then need to do in the morning is to assemble and bake off your flatbreads, make some strong tea or coffee while the flatbreads are in the oven and, ta da, you have a brilliantly simple yet delicious breakfast.
Makes 3 Flatbreads
Note: Unlike other shakshuka recipes, the recipe below will produce a rather thick and chunky sauce. While the sauce will reduce a little further while the pastry is in the oven this is to stop the dough from getting soggy. The recipe below makes 3 large pastries – one is likely enough to set you up for a day of chopping wood. That being said, you could divide the dough into 6 portions to get much smaller pastries – if so, you might want to see whether you can get your hands on some quails eggs to place in the middle as the flatbreads would otherwise be too small to hold a whole chicken egg. Delicious as they are, you can also serve these pastries with some labneh on the side, some olive oil mixed with za’atar and a mixed salad.
For the Flatbreads (recipe adapted from Ottolenghi)
250g wholemeal spelt flour
1 ½ tsp dried active yeast
½ tsp salt
110g greek yoghurt
For the Shakshuka
1 tsp cumin, whole seeds
3 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, diced finely
4 cloves of garlic, smashed with the back of a knife
2 tsp sweet paprika powder
1 whole bay leaf
1 pinch of saffron
2 small dried chillies, chopped roughly
1 tbsp sugar
1 small can of peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand
Juice of ½ lemon
½ glass of water
To make the dough for the flatbreads, place all the dry ingredients into a bowl. Form a well in the centre and add the egg and the yoghurt. Using a fork start to mix the dry into the wet ingredients, then use your hands or the dough hook of a standmixer to knead the dough until it is completely smooth and elastic – by hand this should take between 10 and 15 minutes. Place the dough in a bowl, cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and let the dough rise somewhere warm for 2-3 hours or until the dough has doubled in size. While the dough for the flatbreads is proofing, prepare the shakshuka.
In a dry pan, toast the cumin seeds on medium heat until fragrant. Finely grind in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle. Heat the oil in a medium saucepan, add the cumin, onion and garlic and stir on medium heat until the onions are translucent. Add the remaining spices, the sugar, the crushed tomatoes with their juices, the lemon juice and water, stirring to combine. Let the shakshuka bubble on medium-low until the sauce is thick and has reduced quite a bit (ca. 20-30 minutes). Season to taste – take a cue from Honey and Co who mention in one of their books that the seasoning for shakshuka is perfect when the sauce hits all the right notes: ‘sweet, sour, salty and spicy’. Remove and discard the garlic.
Pre-heat the oven to 250 degrees Celsius and line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
To make the shakshuka flatbreads divide the dough into three pieces. Shape each piece into a ball. On a lightly floured surface roll each ball out until you have circles of ca. 16cm in diameter. To shape the flatbreads, take two opposing sides of each circle and fold them inwards by about 1cm, repeating this once. You should now have a rough oval. Take the shorter sides of the oval and twist them together a few times until the twisted ends align with the long sides of the oval (the aim is to create an almost boat-shaped pastry with a raised edge all around as shown in the the above photo).
Carefully place the flatbreads on the sheetpan. Distribute the shakshuka evenly between the flatbreads. Bake the flatbreads for ca. 10-15 minutes or until the pastries are well risen, puffy and golden brown in colour.
Crack the eggs open and separate the whites from the yolks. Whisk the whites with a fork. Using a spoon create a small dent in the shakshuka in each flatbread and place an egg yolk in the middle. Add as much of the egg whites to each flatbread as will fit. Return the flatbreads to the oven until the whites of the eggs are just set but the yolks are still liquid, about 5 minutes.