Little za’atar buns

Makes 9 Cakes, Bread and Pastries

Little zaatar buns



  • 1tbsp caster sugar
  • 7g sachet fast-action dried yeast
  • 500g strong white bread flour, plus extra to dust
  • ¾tsp fine sea salt
  • 125ml extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to grease
  • ½tsp pul biber

For the za’atar (makes a small jarful)

  • 2tbsp sesame seeds
  • 2tbsp dried wild thyme or oregano
  • 2tbsp sumac
  • 1tsp flaked sea salt


To make the za’atar, toast the sesame seeds in a large dry frying pan over a medium heat until very lightly golden. Leave to cool, then stir in the dried herbs, sumac and salt. Reserve 6tbsp and store the rest in an airtight container to use in other recipes or to sprinkle over salads and dips.

Put the sugar and yeast in a jug, whisk in 275ml warm water, then leave to one side for a couple of minutes. Put the flour in a large mixing bowl and whisk in the salt, then make a well in the centre. Add the yeast water and 25ml of the oil and stir until well combined and you have a moist dough – add more water if needed as the dough shouldn’t be too dry.

Transfer the dough to a flour-dusted surface and knead for around 8–10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Wash and dry the mixing bowl, then lightly oil it. Return the dough to the bowl, drizzle with a little more oil and leave to prove for around 1–1 ½ hours, depending on how warm your kitchen is, until doubled in size.

Turn it out on to a clean surface, knock it back and roll into a rectangle approx. 26 x 40cm. Brush a layer of olive oil over and evenly sprinkle the za’atar and pul biber over, leaving a 1cm border around the edges. Pat the spice mixture gently into the dough with the back of a tablespoon.

Starting with a short side, roll the dough up as tightly as you can, then trim off the uneven excess bits at the end. Slice the dough into 9 pieces.

Pour enough oil into a 23cm square cake tin to just cover the base, then add the dough slices, swirl facing up. Cover and leave to one side for around 30 minutes for a second prove until doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 200C/ 180C F/Gas 6. Bake the buns for 25–30 minutes until golden. As soon as they come out of the oven, drizzle the remaining olive oil over and leave to absorb in the tin for 10 minutes before serving.

This recipe is from the May 2022 issue of Food and Travel. To subscribe today, click here.

Recipes and photographs taken from Nistisima by Georgina Hayden, photography by Kristin Perers (Bloomsbury Publishing, £26).
Little zaatar buns
Recipes and photographs taken from Nistisima by Georgina Hayden, photography by Kristin Perers (Bloomsbury Publishing, £26).


Get Premium access to all the latest content online

Subscribe and view full print editions online... Subscribe