Oh, those piping hot, freshly steamed muflettas…
They are so popular with all Jews who have tasted them, so watch out.
I was at a Bar Mitzvah once (side note: for my non-Jewish followers, that is when a boy turns 13, not when we chop it off, so relax) and this sweet-looking old lady – she must have been well into her 70′s or early 80′s – nearly ran me over, pregnant no less, with her plate in hand once the muflettas were brought out. Note: sweet-looking old ladies become crazy, mad-driven, must-get-muffletas-now ladies when those things come out. You’ve been warned.
So what makes these after Passover, let’s party cause it’s Mimouna, treats so special? I honestly can’t even put it into words. For me, it reminds me of my dad growing up. He would wake up at the crack of dawn on Sunday morning (actually, my dad is a terrible insomniac and would simply lie awake until he had to make them) and sneak down to the kitchen and start making these for us. We would wake up at the smell of these and come running down the stairs – he wouldn’t even need to call us!
Surprisingly enough muflettas were not even born in Morocco. Yes, I know we make it on Mimouna night, (the last night of Passover and only Moroccans celebrate this) but upon doing research (yes, I know, I need to get out more…) I found out this custom originated from our ancestors in Spain. As most Moroccan Jews find their ancestral roots in Spain because of the Spanish Inquisition in 1492, these Jews brought with them the Ladino language and some traditional foods, one of them being muflettas. These go back even further, since the mufletta was actually derived from a medieval Provencal soft griddle bread known as pan mouflet. Muflettas are traditionally served with butter and honey.
So, it’s 5:30am on a Sunday morning and I couldn’t sleep because we are having an hail storm/ice storm (wtf? and that last word is fudge…) and my kids made their way to my bed in the wee hours crying because the noise outside scared them.
Side note: ever wonder how men are blessed with the capability of closing their ears? Seriously, how do they NOT hear the babies crying? how?
I got up to make these for my adorable son – the most Ashkenazi looking kid around – because they are his favourite.
1 package active dry yeast (which is 2 1/4tsp)
1 1/2 c. warm water
1 tsp. sugar
2 tsp. salt
3 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
Vegetable oil/Canola oil
Start by placing the water in a warm bowl and sprinkle the yeast on top. Stir in the sugar. Note: if your bowl is cold, wash in warm water, dry, then begin…
Wait about 5-8 minutes until the yeast activates and it starts to bloom…
Then add the salt followed by 2 cups of the flour and begin to mix with your hands…(It was impossible for me to take good pictures with my hands in the dough…I need a third arm.)
Gradually add the rest of the flour as you mix until it looks like this..
Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface and begin to kneed…
After 10 minutes or so…you will know you are done when your triceps and biceps start swearing at you. It will look like this..
Now doesn’t that look pretty…go you! Start forming balls the size of an egg or smaller. Lightly coat the balls in canola or vegetable oil and place on a tray.
Cover loosely with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let sit for 30 minutes. Once rested, lightly oil your work surface. Place the ball on this work surface and flatten with your palm. Using your fingers, stretch the dough out into a disc. Now begin to roll out the dough as thin as possible. Don’t worry if it breaks a little… it doesn’t have to be perfect.
Using preferably a cast iron skillet or an aluminum one if you don’t have a cast iron, heat up on medium-low about 1 tsp. vegetable or canola oil. Carefully pick up the mufletta and place on hot skillet. Once cooked underneath (you want it to have golden brown patches) flip over. Start rolling out the next one and place on top of the first one. Flip to cook the new one. Roll out another mufletta and place on top of the mufletta pack in the skillet. Flip to cook. Repeat for all muflettas.
This is the raw mufletta on top of the cooked ones…
Then I flip the batch to cook the raw one (one side only. Only the first one cooks on both sides)..
To reheat: place in a steamer. Do not reheat on the stovetop. It will become crunchy.
Now, make the you-you’s, or as my Ashki mother does – stick your finger in your mouth and shake it from side to side all the while making an obnoxious noise (so not like the real deal, but we forgive you)- and pat yourself on the back cause you are awesome!