Called samboussek (for small individual semicircular pieces), or manoushet jebneh (for big pizza-pie ones), these cheese flatbreads are made in Lebanon with a special kind of cheese, akkawi (from the Palestinian city of Akka) as we call it in Lebanon, which is a white cheese that melts well. So look for a “melting” white cheese that is not very watery, or else the bread will never bake and crisp up properly. This version of fatayer jebneh is a little fancier, with onion for the taste and tomato for the color, but they can also be made with just cheese.
For the dough:
- 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 1/4 teaspoon sugar
- 2 cups (250 g) whole wheat flour
- 1/4 cup (60 ml) olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
For the filling:
- 18 ounces (500 g) akkawi cheese (or substitute half mozzarella and half Gruyère or other good melting cheese)
- 1 medium yellow onion
- 1 medium tomato
- Kamal Mouzawak
To make the dough, dissolve the yeast and the sugar in 1/2 cup (120 ml) lukewarm water (too cold, and the yeast will not be active and rise; too hot, and it will be killed). It should rise and double its amount or more, taking about 10 minutes.
Mix well the flour with the olive oil, so that every grain is coated with oil. Add the yeast mixture and salt, and enough warm water to form a dough. Add 1/2 cup (120 ml) at a time and knead well, so the dough doesn’t turn loose and liquid. The dough should be elastic enough and not stick to the hands or the bowl. Shape it into a ball and let it rest for at least 3 hours, covered, in a warm place, for the dough to rise to double its original volume.
Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C, or gas mark 6).
To make the filling, coarsely grate the cheese into a bowl. Finely chop the onion and add to the cheese. Dice the tomato and add to the cheese. Mix well; there should be no need to salt the mixture, as the cheese is salty enough.
Roll the dough out thinly, and cut out small disks (4 inches, or 10 cm, in diameter). Put 1 tablespoon of the filling in the middle of it. You may leave the disks flat (spread out the filling if you do this), or you may fold the disks in two, like a turnover, and seal the border by pinching it. Arrange on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, until lightly golden.